DeFoe leaving Dardanelle with AOY lead

With family in tow, Ott DeFoe stopped by the JM Associates studio in Little Rock for a segment of Bassmaster LIVE after a successful event.

DeFoe finished 15th at Dardanelle and regained the lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. He started the event 32 points behind Jason Christie, who took 72nd, and jumped to the top with 527 points.

First-year Elite Jacob Wheeler stands second with 518 points behind his 20th-place finish this week. Brandon Palaniuk is third with 517 but he can rise or fall as he began Championship Monday in eighth place.

Casey Ashley (510), Mark Davis (507) and Christie (502) are also in the hunt as the AOY race has tightened. There are nine anglers, including Kevin VanDam and Edwin Evers, with 43 points of the lead with three events remaining before the AOY Championship.

Davis has a limit

Mark Davis hasn't had any trouble catching fish this morning, but most of them have been either white bass or small black bass, according to photographer Seigo Saito. Davis is throwing a topwater bait, and it has produced non-stop action.

And he's catching some quality amidst all the dinks. In addition to the estimated 3 1/2-pounder, Davis just added a 2 1/2-pounder, giving him 9-plus pounds.

Ike covering ground

Iaconelli is covering some ground today and will likely continue that trend.

He's running a typical Lake Dardanelle pattern for this time of year, hitting water lillies on the bank when they are in front of him and paying close attention to variations in bottom contour just off the bank.

When he's shallow he appears to be throwing a frog. And out it looks like he's casting a square bill.

We aren't getting close enough to really dial in on baits yet. But he does have one keeper in the boat, a 2-pound class fish.

The rain has let off for the moment. Not that any of it matters to Ike. We started the day in a steady rain and Ike never donned a rain jacket.

Topwater time!

The rain is tapering off and the competition is underway. Overcast, calm conditions have set this morning up for a prime topwater bite.

Before takeoff I recorded the lure details for the Lures of the Top 12 story gallery with Garrick Dixon.

Not surprisingly the leaders all had topwater lures rigged and ready.

This morning look for Mark Davis to cast a 3.75 inch Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg. As already reported he’s boated a 3.5-pound keeper, likely on the bone color topwater.

When asked about his prime morning lure, Jamie Hartman pulled out a classic One Knocker Spook, a saltwater version known for its ability to call in bass from afar.

Steve Kennedy has been successful with a Spro Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog 65. Yesterday we watched Bassmaster LIVE with Dean Rojas putting on a clinic with his namesake frog.

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The river is rising, of course

Many here were awakened by a cell phone flash flood warning early this morning, if they weren't already up and at 'em on the final day at Lake Dardanelle. As you can see from the accompanying U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chart, the Arkansas River has been on the rise since midnight, when it was 337.72 feet above sea level. At 6 a.m. it was up to 337.86.

A reminder: While that doesn't sound like much - a rise of 0.14 - it's significant to the fish, and signals a trend that will push them further away from the main river channel. In addition to the elevation change, in the third column of the chart, note the "Total Release" in the next to last column. It's higher than it has been in the last two days - up to 170,155 cubic feet per second. In other words, the Arkansas River is rolling this morning.

Day 4 headline

The headline for this day happened long before the 6:15 a.m. start of Day 4.

At 2:30 a.m. the National Weather Service activated the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for Russellville and the surrounding area. The reason was a very slow moving low pressure system that delivered more than 2.5 inches of rain. That rain fell for nearly four hours. All of it will drain into Lake Dardanelle.

Before takeoff Dave Mercer interviewed Mark Davis about what was on his mind. Here’s what he said.

“The lock and dam upstream is releasing 23,000 cubic feet per second more than yesterday That’s not good.”

Yesterday Davis told me that his best bite, offshore, is best when the water release from Lock and Dam #9 is slowed down to allow water to be released from Lake Dardanelle. What that does is draw bass from shallower water and into bottom funnel contours where they stage in deeper water. They are easier to intercept. Until now, such a scenario was the essence of Davis’ offshore bite.

Davis is committed to the area for good reason. He believes the fish will be there, but unsure how the bite will be due to the overnight rainfall. He will know after making a 40-mile run.

“It’s not like you can go there and fish it awhile and then go somewhere else. You can’t leave and come back. You get your one shot during the day."

Davis is counting on that shot.

Davis: 3.5-pounder on second cast

Tournament leader Mark Davis is off to a hot start, according to photographer Seigo Saito. Davis got a blow-up on his first cast with a topwater bait this morning, then hooked up with a 3 1/2-pounder on his second cast.

Ike gets a math coach

When BASSTrakk showed Mike Iaconelli with 18 pounds, 4 ounces late yesterday afternoon, then he actually weighed 18-14, jaws dropped all across America. Had "Big Eyes" Ike, who always over-estimates his weight, suddenly gotten a new pair of glasses?

"That never happens," Iaconelli said. "Here's the biggest thing - my marshal today is a middle school principal, and before that he was a math teacher. So he knows what the fish weigh. I don't take any of the credit. Normally I over-guess. But I looked at it like, he's a mathematician. He's going to get it right. And that's what happened."

We'll see how well Iaconelli learned his math lesson today.