Cherry predicted a tough day

After what he’d seen over the previous two days at Lake Ray Roberts, Hank Cherry thought today was going to be difficult - for everyone. It appears he was correct. His unofficial BassTrakk totals show him with a 1-pound, 9-ounce lead over Matt Arey, but those numbers can be wildly inaccurate. If you were watching “Bassmaster LIVE” you saw how tough it was. Cherry’s unofficial total of five keepers weighing 11 pounds, 12 ounces, came without the benefit of a single cull. Eight hours on Lake Ray Roberts - 5 bass, period.

“It’s getting tough, and it’s going to get worse (Sunday),” Cherry said last night. “You saw the weights and how they plummeted (Saturday). It’s not going to get any better. The storm had something to do with it, knocking out the shad spawn. But I think the shad spawn is going away very fast. The water was 81 degrees around those trees today. When we first got here, when the bite was so good, it was 73.”

Cherry recalled how he qualified for the Elite Series back in Oct. 2012 with a victory margin of one ounce in a Bassmaster  Open at Alabama’s Smith Lake. This Bassmaster Classic could be decided by ounces today.

“It doesn’t matter. An ounce is all I need,” he said last night. But he also claimed he’d be fine if he doesn’t win the Classic for the second year in a row.

“If I lose, I’m not going to cry,” Cherry said. “I’ve got my trophy. I will pass it on to the next guy and see what he can do with it."

Mosley making up for lost day

Among those who have reported on a few Bassmaster Classics, it’s a betting game. How many times will anglers say this on the Day 1 weigh-in stage: “You can’t win the Bassmaster Classic on Day 1, but you CAN lose it.” Ugh. There is some truth in the statement, and proof of it this year is Brock Mosley.

The 32-year-old, Collinsville, Miss., pro was highly confident coming into his second Bassmaster Classic. The three-day pre-practice period and Wednesday’s official practice day left him feeling good about his chances, and catching an 8-pounder was only part of his confidence. He shook off plenty of other bass. Catching five keepers didn’t appear to be a problem. Then came Day 1 and Mosley caught only four keepers weighing 8-10, which put him in 41st place in the 54-angler field.

Mosley caught only four keepers again yesterday, but they weighed 14-5 and moved him into 16th place. Today he’s moving up again. He’s got a limit for the first time in the tournament. It weighs 14-4 and includes the big bass of the day so far - a 6 1/2-pounder. He’s up to 7th place on BassTrakk.

Slim pickens but necessary

So how strange would it be for Matt Arey to land a 5-pounder between now and the end of this derby?

Consider this with 50-plus anglers on the water on Day 1 and 2, Kyle Welcher was the only one to catch a 5-pound plus after straight-up noon on Day 1.

On Day 2, Seth Fieder in the noon hour caught a 6-0 and in the 1 p.m. hour Frank Tally caught a 5-0.

It’s been slim pickens once the sun peaks, but it is possible. And for Arey a necessity.

No guarantees

Matt Arey just culled. Moving him up another 1/2 pound. But with Hank Cherry finishing his limit with a 2 pounder and building a 3-pound plus lead the onus is on Arey to have to catch a big one. He needs a 5-plus to make it interesting and even then there are no guarantees.

Again. Stranger things have happened. But there have been very few big fish caught late in these last three days.

Cherry has five, feeling good

Hank Cherry just caught fish No. 5 - a 2-pounder. He’s got a total of 11-12. So I asked him what he was thinking, and he said, "I don’t care how it ends up at this point. I just appreciate all this.” He said that as he pointed toward the 20-plus boats that have been following him all day.

Stranger things have happened

Matt Arey has finished his limit. But what he’s missing is a big fish like one he lost this morning.

Hank Cherry seems to be in control. Cherry has the lead with four fish and you have to expect he will catch his fifth.

So the rest of the day is a size game. Whatever Cherry catches Arey has to catch one 2 pounds larger just to stay on pace. Four pounds larger to win.

Numbers get funky in these events. Cherry is in control. But Arey still has a chance. It might be a long shot. But he needs a 5 or 6 to answer Cherry.

Stranger things have happened.

Cherry lightens up, gets results

Hank Cherry endured more than two hours this morning with only two keepers in the boat. When he left the dam and started flipping bushes again, he made a key adjustment, according to photographer Shane Durrance, who is following Cherry this morning. He went to lighter line and a smaller bait, then almost immediately landed a 4-pounder, a 1 1/2-pounder and a non-keeper.

Cherry is going back to where he started Day 2 with two quick catches totaling over 10 pounds. He wants to see if the lighter presentations will make a difference there too.

Arey: "I can't believe I did that"

We talked about those ‘what-could-have-been’ moments earlier today.

Matt Arey lost a 7-pounder right off the bat. He fought through that fairly well and has moved to the top of the leaderboard, even holding the lead for a while.

Moments ago, He has another of those memories that will last a long time.

With only four fish in the well and just 2-pounds out of the lead he had another blow up on his frog. As luck or circumstance would have it, there was a light piece of grass right next to the frog when the fish bit. The frog disappeared, the grass stayed there. Arey thought the grass was his frog until the line was 10 feet away from that spot. By the time he realized what has happened, it was too late.

That took place about 5 minutes ago. And as of finish typing this Arey is still loudly proclaiming “I can’t believe I did that.”

If is close to winning this by the end of the day and comes up short, these will be the words rolling through his mind for a long time.

Critical bait change for Jones

Chris Jones just landed his fourth keeper of the afternoon which was the direct result of a bait change. The two-time Classic qualifier switched from a Yum Christie Critter which he has done the majority of his damage on to a Yum Flipping Tube.

Just before making the switch, Jones mentioned that the water had cleaned up. He felt as if the Christie Critter was falling too slow and wanted to try to trigger a reaction bite with a bait that has a quicker rate of fall.

“Good call Chris,” he yelled when he boat flipped his fourth keeper.

It will be interesting to see if he begins to get more bites with adjustment.

Herren moving on up

As a former TTBC winner at Lake Ray Roberts, Matt Herren was considered one of the pre-tournament favorites in this his 9th Bassmaster Classic. But Herren had a tough first day, finishing in 40th place with four bass totaling 10-2. He rallied to make the cut in 24th place yesterday with an 11-4 limit. The Ashville, Ala., angler continues to move up the standings today with a 4-pounder and two other keepers. He’s got 7 pounds and is in 15th place on BassTrakk at 10:30.