Palaniuk predicted this, sort of

Brandon Palaniuk said this after weighing-in yesterday: "I think someone will catch 21 or 22 pounds (Sunday), because the weather is going to help them bite. I just hope it's me."

Well, Brandon, apparently it is you. Palaniuk made another significant cull just before the 2 o'clock hour. It's believed he now has the biggest bag of the tournament. Jamie Hartman previously held that honor with his 22-1 on Day 1. Koby Kreiger had 22-0 on Day 2.

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Loughran culls up

Ed Loughran III said he was making one stop on his way to fish for largemouths, and it paid off with a nice cull fish. 

“It gave me an extra half pound,” Loughran said. 

That 3.7-pound smallie bumps his stinger to about 19 pounds.

Loughran needs an upgrade

Ed Loughran III has about 18 pounds in the boat, and he’s fishing relaxed. 

“It’s been good,” he said. “I caught them in about two hours, fishing deep.”

But he said he’ll probably spend the rest of his day focusing on largemouth in hopes of upgrading.

“I’ve got a couple of 2 1/4-pound fish of like to get rid of,” Loughran said. “If I don’t have 22 1/2 pounds I don’t think I stand a chance.”

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Three-horse race

Sometimes I write blogs knowing full well that it will be a harbinger of things to come.

Literally moments after that last post, Palaniuk boats a 4 1/2 pounder. 

Now he’s taken the lead and we have a three-horse race with everyone else needing those bigger fish.

True to Mercer’s forecast. Palaniuk has shown they will show up.

Palaniuk bringing the beatdown

“What is happening?!” 

When we hear this on the water from a seasoned pro like Brandon Palaniuk, something special is in the air. 

Palaniuk just experienced a 46-minute flurry (12:10-12:56) that yielded three massive Lake Champlain smallmouth weighing 4-4, 4-0 and 4-6. 

With an unofficial weight of 20-14, the man they call The Prodigy is showing why he’s one of the sport’s most lethal competitors.

Palaniuk’s sharing the lake with a talented Championship Sunday field that won’t allow him a breath of comfort, but if he puts another one of these tanks in the boat, he might outpace the competition.

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Palaniuk putting on an insane show

Brandon Palaniuk feels like he's back in his high school wrestling days. His mouth is dry and he's nervous. And he's putting on an insane show of smallmouth bass catches. 

"What is happening right now?," said Palaniuk after landing the third one in this flurry and the biggest one. "The last 45 minutes have been insane."

Palaniuk said he had five clones yesterday when he weighed 20-5. He has mentioned clones again today in describing what's in his livewells. But that last one wasn't a clone. BASSTrakk shows him in the lead at 1 p.m. with 19-12 on the day 78-7 for the tournament. He's got more weight than that today. But it's likely that Seth Feider, Jamie Hartman and David Mullins also have more weight than indicated on BASSTrakk, which shows those four guys within one pound of each other.

Missed opportunity

Cory Johnston hasn’t had a great day, logging just over 10 pounds thus far. 

He’s hopping grass flats and submerged islands, getting very little action.

But after more than an hour without a bite, he wiffled on a bite looked like it could have helped out his cause. 

He set the hook hard, and his rod loaded up, only to have the fish come unbuttoned. 

The normally stoic Johnston couldn’t hide his frustration.

Big fish flurry brings midday thunder

Boom, boom, boom. 

Did you hear that? The skies are dark, but it wasn’t thunder — at least not the meteorological kind.

That was the sound of a midday flurry in which three Bassmaster Elite pros each dropped huge smallmouth on the BASSTRAKK Leaderboard. Total weights and angler positions are unofficial until today’s weigh-ins, which begin at 3 o’clock, but BASSLive showed the catches and there’s no question what just happened.

11:41 Jamie Hartman: 4-0 

12:10 Brandon Palaniuk: 4-4

12:13: Seth Feider: 4-12

After three days of heavy fishing pressure and several huge sacks, we weren’t sure how much big-fish potential remained on the spots these anglers were targeting. 

Like Elvis, speculation has left the building.

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Mullins haunted by lost bass

David Mullins has lost two big smallmouth bass today. The last one was particularly heartbreaking, as Mullins thought it was solidly hooked on his crankbait and he had it almost to the boat. When it popped loose, Mullins was inconsolable. 

And he's been here before, unfortunately. Mullins was in contention for the title twice last year - at Cayuga Lake and Lake Lanier. "I had it won on the third day," Mullins said of Cayuga. "I lost a 4-pounder and a 3-pounder the third day. If I land those two, I win that one. It was the same way at Lanier. I think if I land two I missed, I win that tournament too."

Several anglers have noted how much Lake Champlain's smallmouth bass enjoy going airborne. That's often a kiss bye-bye for an angler.

"Sometimes they're in the air more than they are in the water," Mullins said Saturday. "It's fun to watch, but it's heartbreaking at the same time because you know one's getting ready to come off. It's 50-50 almost on landing one."

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Shallow move pays off for Hartman

Hartman’s move shallow pays off.  Not finding fish in his previous spot Jamie moved about 20 yards shallower up onto the point and relocated the school.  He culled three times quickly. He’s rotating between a jig drop shot and a Carolina rig.

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