Roumbanis rooting for Lintner

Jared Lintner is the unofficial leader of this tournament at noon. He's got a rooting section in Russellville, Ark. That's because if Lintner were to win this tournament, Fred Roumbanis of Russellville would slip in the Classic Bracket tournament next week on Carters Lake in Ellijay, Ga., and have new life in trying to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. Three more Classic bids will be available in the Classic Bracket.
But Roumbanis isn't rooting any harder for Lintner than Lintner. As has been noted, if Lintner doesn't win, he'll load up and head to Georgia after today's weigh-in. Chad Pipkens, who finished 21st here yesterday, is already on his way to Georgia.

Lester culling again

Lester has culled again. This time I got to see every fish in his well. He has 5 and the smallest (the one he threw back) was a 2-pounder. 

The last two have been over 2. But not by much. BassTrakk has him at 10-9. 

I’m saying that’s at least a half pound light. When I proposed that idea to Lester he just smiled. 

“You know how bass fisherman are,” he said. “But it’s still not enough. Surely to goodness there’s some big smallmouth that live in this lake. “

He’s milking a long point and bluff wall near the dam, right where he caught his Classic qualifying fish two days ago. This spot might become even more special before the day is over.

Lester upgrading

It didn’t take Lester long to hook up after we settled on him. Moments later and a smallmouth in the 2-pound range came aboard. 

That fish gave him about a half pound upgrade that should’ve put him in the 10-pound neighborhood. 

Still not where Lester wants to be. But he’s chipping away at it. 

Lester update

I’ve pulled off Lintner for a while to check in with Brandon Lester, currently in second in our BassTrakk standings. 

He verified he has a limit in the 9 pound range. And while he’s got a good start to the day, he knows he has to have more if he wants to achieve his goals. 

First on that list is to beat Bobby Lane by a couple places and win the points race. But he also knows he has a shot of winning this event. 

There’s an Elite angler it’s there rooting for to do that. If Lester wins he’s double qualified and it would open an invite to the next man on that list. 

Hudnall's Elite satisfaction

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Derek Hudnall since he began fishing the Opens in 2015. The Baton Rouge, La., angler has already accepted his invitation to join the Bassmaster Elite Series, and with good reason. Hudnall has a respectable, and unusual, primary sponsor in Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, renowned for its pediatric healthcare in Louisiana. 

“Nearly all of the hospital is operated by fundraising,” he sad. “If a child needs major brain or heart surgery they can have the procedure done at the hospital without the need to leave town. Seventy percent of our patients also don’t have the ability to pay for treatment, so the fund-raising is so important.”

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Lintner's lure lineup

All week Jared Lintner has been baffled by his smallmouth-dominated catch. As of yesterday only one largemouth filled his weigh-in bags after two days. 

“It doesn’t make sense because I’m fishing largemouth water,” he said. 
Never mind because a bass is a bass on the scales. 
Lintner is alternating between two crankbaits and a jig, which he is flipping into submerged cedar trees near the shoreline, and thus the largemouth scenario. 
Lintner’s lure lineup includes a used a Spro Mike McClelland RkCrawler 55, and a Jackall MC/60 crankbaits. He is also using a 3/4-ounce jig with a Strike King Rage Bug.

Lintner trying to turn it around

The fickle nature of tournament bass fishing - that's Jared Lintner's 2018 Elite Series season in a nutshell. A season that started with so much promise - Angler of the Year-type promise - has ended with Lintner struggling to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.

If he doesn't win today, the struggle will continue into the Classic Bracket Championship at Georgia's Carters Lake next week. As you can imagine, he'd love to avoid that drive and the extension of an increasingly trying season.

Lintner's first four Elite Series finishes this season were 4th at Lake Martin, 49th at Grand Lake, 37th at Kentucky Lake and 15th at Lake Travis. Then the wheels fell off: 82nd at the Sabine River, 85th at the Mississippi River (La Crosse) and 67th at Lake Oahe.

"I've thought a lot about that," said the 45-year-old California native. "A lot of it was I started second-guessing myself. I felt myself going, 'What am I doing?' Then I tried to right the ship, and it was like I was trying too hard. It's unbelievable how mental this sport is. Everybody can cast, find fish and pattern fish. But it's making those decisions and not fighting with your gut instincts that's the key to success."

Lintner has been successfully listening to his instincts this week. He might appreciate a victory today more than anyone else in the field.

Lintner has been successfully listening to his instincts this week. He might appreciate a victory today more than anyone else in the field.

Lintner with three in the box

Lintner has three in the box. 

I thought I had seen his first keeper come aboard. But I was late to the party.

He’s caught three. All of them little he says. But, despite the size, he’s having a good start.

Lintner has limit for 10 pounds

I was thinking Lintner has at a minimum 8 1/2 pounds. While I was typing that last blog he was weighing all his fish. 
His scale, which has been weighing a little heavy all week, has him at 10 pounds and while I’m typing that he culled for a few ounces to put him over that mark. 

At 8:45 he’s got a great start. A couple of kickers and he’s going to make Caleb Sumrall earn his day’s work. Along with the rest of the field. 

Lintner finished limit

So much for Lintner’s lost fish blues. He just finished his limit. 

The last one a 2-pound smallmouth came on a crankbait that hit at about the same time Lintner hit a tree. Lintner thought he was hung. Actually he was hooked to the tree. After a few line pops the bait came free from the tree but the smallmouth was still there. 

I know BassTrakk will have him lower. But I’m guessing he’s at 8 pounds and change.