Mosley burning less gas, having more fun

He may not win this tournament, but Brock Mosley has definitely had the most interesting, fun-filled week. The fun factor got cranked up at 11:30 when Mosley put a 5-pound, 14-ounce largemouth bass in the boat. He culled a 1 1/2-pounder with it and was ecstatic. A 4-pound upgrade will do that.

Of course, Mosley's excitement began on Wednesday, when his wife gave birth to their second daughter back home in Collinsville, Miss. Mosley has taken the unusual route of concentrating on largemouth bass this week, and he's been just a short distance from the takeoff dock at French Creek Marina. In addition to being in strong contention for making Sunday's top 10, Mosley is catching more fish than anybody. He's got 10 so far today.

But that 5-14 sent his mood up into another level. He's catching the largemouth in shallow water on a bladed jig.

Kennedy lurking in the shadows

BASSTrakk shows Steve Kennedy in 9th place with 17 pounds in the livewell. He is consistent: 17, 16 and 16 pounds has been his daily weight range. It's also perilously consistent. It's swing for the fences day and everyone is going all out on their spots. That's understandable considering the wind forecast for Saturday. Chris Zaldain charged from 20th into the Top 10, and so did Brad Whatley.

"I struggled a little bit yesterday," he told me this morning. "I could see fish but couldn't make them hit."

Yesterday at about 1:30 p.m. Kennedy caught a pair of 4-pounders to break the ice. That gave him enough confidence to go back today. He made the 80-mile, one-way run. On the casting deck are two baits: A bladed jig and marabou jig. 

I hate these slugfests

For veteran Elite Series angler Bill Lowen the 2020 St. Lawrence River tournament is like starting over. He has fished here many times, but he typically focuses on the Canadian side of the river near Waddington. Due to COVID restrictions Canadian waters are off limits this year.

Despite those limitations Lowen sits in 36th place after two days. He has 7 pounds so far today, moving him up a few spots.

Lowen is known as a guy who thrives in tough grinder tournaments, where 12 pounds is a big bag.

“I hate these slugfests where guys are catching 27 pounds,” he said. “I grew up fishing the Ohio River, where 12 pounds would win any tournament. In fact 12 pounds was a slugfest there. In the summer it was 8 pounds.”

When we get in these giant slugfests and guys are catching 5 or 6 pounders, I seem to be catching 3 pounders.”

“I don’t know how to get over that hump. Or maybe I just need to accept who I am. I’m a shallow water guy. That’s where my confidence is.”

This week Lowen tested the big waters of Lake Ontario, with this reporter in the passenger seat. “Being out here makes me feel like I’m at the bottom of a garbage can,” he said. When the fish wouldn't cooperate Lowen began insulting them. "I hope you drown," he told one. 

True to form, Lowen found a rocky Lake Ontario point and bagged 18 pounds in 2 feet of water.

“I feel blessed to make the cut at this one,” he said, “survive, and move on to Lake Champlain.”

Mercer update on Gussy

Jeff Gustafson putting on a master class this week. 

Benton getting a bump

Jeff Gustafson hit another rocky point and in the background Drew Benton was landing what appears to be a 3- to 4-pound smallmouth.

Benton shows on BASSTrakk to have a limit of around 15 pounds. This one will likely give him a bump.

Like Gussy, he’s fighting to try and make tomorrow’s final. But more than anything he’s scratching and clawing for AOY points. He had a slow start here after starting the event in 4th of that season-long race.

After Day 1 he had dropped to 8th. Rebounded some on yesterday and moved back to 5th.

He’s having a decent start today and could continue climbing if he stays on course.

Zaldain shallow bite working like a charm

Zaldain is one of the anglers that the camera gravitates towards. He invited me to board, and of course I happily obliged. 

I am very glad that I did because what happened in the next hour was incredible. He boated a 5-pounder and two 4-pounders right in front of me. If you ever caught a bronze back that size then you understand the excitement that takes place. I think these fish are the most acrobatic of all the bass species.

On Day 3 he is sitting in 20th place, and he thinks he needs about 22 pounds to make the Top 10 cut. This morning he already has about 19 pounds. His shallow bite is working like a charm. He says he wants to fish one more shallow spot before the wind gets too crazy. The high wind creates boat positioning issues.

I think he will make the cut!

BASSTrakk remains the best gauge

During the Covid pandemic B.A.S.S., has not allowed Marshals. So the numbers you see on BASSTrakk are basically straight from the anglers.

They are required to send in a text every few hours with the number of caught fish and estimated weight. Some are doing it every fish. Most are using the collective and estimating total weight.

Jeff Gustafson has three in his well. A 5 and two 3s, which should give him 11 pounds.

But as anglers are apt to do he fudged a bit. BASSTrakk shows him with two for 7. And the third has yet to show.

But Seth Fieder rolled up a minute prior to his third keeper and he told him he had a 5 and a 3, giving us confidence that we had guessed right.

The whole point is Gussy is sitting higher in the standings than we think. All these guys fudge a bit. For them it’s far better to under guess than over guess. Still BASSTrakk remains the best gauge available even with a little fudge on top.

Snowden waiting out the big bites

Brian Snowden has four fish in the livewell, but they aren’t the ones he needs.

“I’ve got about 8 pounds,” he said just after we pulled up on him.

However, he wasn’t panicking. “It’s usually about 11 before the bigger fish bite,” Snowden said.

His biggest concern is the wind, which has started picking up. “I don’t know when this wind is going to do,” he said. “It just makes for a bumpy ride back.”

Gussy added third keeper

I’m not sure if it was the bait thief or not, but Jeff Gustafson has just added his third keeper. This one is another 3-pounder.

He swung this one in the boat and during the process let us know that wasn’t the one he wanted.

He’s down in the boat retying at the moment. Then I assume will be back at trying to get in front of the right one.

Gussy in stealth mode

Jeff Gustafson keeps working down river. We are close to the Ogdenburg bridge which is closer to Waddington than Clayton.

His tactics are similar to those we see on the Arkansas River or river systems with a lot of jetties and wingdams.

But we are in clear water and these jetties are basically rocky points coming off the bank.

He’s hit a half dozen in typical river fishing style. Throwing his fluff jig and other offerings on the up and down sides of these points.

Since the last two he’s not had any takers. But on some of the stops he will let us know he sees one. And just now after telling us he had one steal his bait from a drop shot.

He’s back in stealth mode with his fluff jig trying to make it bite again.