Martens makes a move

Aaron Martens started the day in 19th place, but he was only 3-1 behind leader Jacob Wheeler. Martens has landed a one-two punch that suddenly has him in contention. He caught a 4-4 at 1:04 and followed it with a 5-4 at 1:22 to give him 20-11. That has vaulted him into third place, just over a pound out of the lead, according to BASSTrakk.

Feider moves into lead

Seth Feider just caught a 4.25 pound largemouth and moved into the lead on BASSTrakk, ahead of second place Kelly Jaye by 15 ounces. We actually think Feider has 20.25. Here are his fish weights:

6.25
4.25
3.75
3.00
3.00

Feider knows he has a good bag, but doesn't know he's in the lead.

Though when a spectator cracked open a beer and said, "That tastes like freedom," Feider turned his head and said, "I hear that."

Tie breaker?

BASSTrakk shows 4 ounces separation between leader Kelley Jaye and Brandon Palaniuk. Jacob Wheeler is third and 1 ounce behind Palaniuk.

What if there is a tie for first place? Here is the answer, straight from the B.A.S.S. rule book.

"In case of a tie for first place weight at the end of the tournament, there will be a fish-off between the tied competitors under the direction and special rules established by tournament officials.”

Tournament Director Trip Weldon will make that call, if needed. Back in the late 1980s I was B.A.S.S. assistant tournament director and found myself having to exercise that rule at a B.A.S.S. Nation regional qualifier.

The late summer event on the East Coast allowed for plenty of daylight after the weigh-in. I chose to have the sudden-death fish-off immediately after the weigh-in. The option would have been staying overnight and fishing the next day. It was a good decision. The tied anglers went out and the tournament was decided within an hour.

Lots of us, the anglers included, will love it if Weldon choses that option, especially since we’ve all been on a two-week road trip.

Feider pauses to weigh fish

Seth Feider just caught a smallmouth and paused to weigh and cull his
fish. He confirm that his big largemouth is indeed a 6 pounder. "The
scale was bouncing around between 6 and 6 and 1/4," he said. He
believes the 18 pounds BASSTrakk is showing him with is very close to
accurate.

His limit is made up of four largemouth and one smallmouth. The
smallmouth is his smallest fish at 2 and 3/4 pounds. "I need a 4
pounder," he said. Adding that he felt he had plenty of room to move
up.

Palaniuk sand-bagging?

Brandon Palaniuk may have considerably more weight that the 19-3 that BASSTrakk shows him with now.

Unlike Jacob Wheeler, Palaniuk doesn't put his fish on a digital scale to get an exact weight. And photographer Gettys Brannon, an accomplished college bass angler, thinks Palaniuk has well over 20 pounds.

Wheeler with a big one

Jacob Wheeler was doing a little instructional video just now, showing the "Bassmaster LIVE" audience how to carefully fight a smallmouth on a treble-hooked jerkbait. He didn't think it was a giant, but he was fighting it carefully.

Then he saw it, and the excitable Wheeler got even more excited. He put it on a digital scale and it weighed 4.87 pounds. That puts Wheeler ounces away from the unofficial lead.

Red Bulls and a jerkbait

Jacob Wheeler keeps running and gunning. And tossing back Red Bulls. He is supercharged in more ways than one.

A key to Wheeler's area is probing the outer confines of offshore shoals. The sweet spot is finding the hardest bottom nearest the deepest water, or a dropoff.

"These post-spawn smallmouth are in transition and there is no reason for them to move right now," he told me yesterday. "My guess is they will just keep feeding until the bait runs out, or the water gets too warm and they move deeper."

Joining the swimbait and Carolina rig in his lure arsenal is a Rapala Shadow Rap Deep, which is getting a Red Bull-fueled jerking across the strike zone.

Wheeler is also convinced that all he needs is a couple of 4-plus pounders to put him in the lead. He just put one in the livewell.

Brandon's baits

Brandon Palaniuk is running away with the point race for Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Of more immediate interest is his place on the scoreboard and how he got there. BASSTrakk shows him with 55 pounds, 9 ounces, or less than 1 pound behind Kelley Jaye.

What he is using are three lures.

A key lure all week is a Storm Arashi Spinbait of his design. The lure features a front prop with three blades with two props at the rear.

"It's a super finesse lure but it gives off a big profile," he said.

The water vortex made by the action emulates a fleeing, struggling baitfish.

"Air gaps are created between the front and rear props that add to the pulsating, rock and roll action," he explained.

Lethargic, post-spawn smallmouth are falling for the different look and unique action.

A Rapala Shadow Rap Deep produces strikes for deeper, more healthier and aggressive smallmouth. Palaniuk is adding black vertical bars with a Sharpie pen to the sides of the bait to make it appear more like the perch forage.

For topwater action he is using a Storm Arashi Top Walker 13, Ayu pattern. For strike appeal he adds a VMC Feathered Treble Hook.

For super slow finesse he is using a drop shot. To make it he begins with a Zoom Z Drop, adds a No. 2 drop shot hook and 1/4- or 3/8-ounce tungsten drop shot sinker.

Palaniuk culling up

Brandon Palaniuk is making a serious run at this tournament title. He just culled a 4-pounder with a 5 1/2-pounder, according to photographer Gettys Brannon. 

"I don't know about this tournament, but I'll be fine in Angler of the Year," said Palniuk, who is threatening to leave Plattsburgh with a 30-point AOY lead.

Palaniuk is catching his fish on a drop shot, and catching one on almost every cast. He's up to 18 fish caught at noon and is up to a 19-3 on the day.

Kennedy's swimbait

This didn't come from the horse's mouth, so it's rumor rather than fact. But according to a little bird, Steve Kennedy's swimbait, which he has guarded so carefully, is thought to be a Keitech 4.3-inch Fat Swing Impact, maybe in a Sight Flash color pattern. He's throwing it on a one-ounce swimbait head, according to my source.

Kennedy has also caught a fish on a drop-shot lure and a spy bait today. He's surprised to have 14-14 now, as most of his bigger fish have come after 1 o'clock this week.

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