Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Paul Herron
"That barge is going to be my nemesis," said Alton Jones as a massive train of 15 barge hulls was pushed by on the river. What he means is that he will have to pass the barge and get to the lock before it, or he may be "locked out."
We are trying to figure out the timing. The lock is about 25 to 30 miles from here, and the barge is moving almost 3 miles per hour, according to FindShip, an app Kyle has that tracks commercial shipping. It's invaluable for anyone fishing in rivers with locks, pools and barge traffic. If that's all correct, the barge won't reach the lock before 6 this evening, long after Jones will have locked through and weighed in. and traffic through locks.
Jones said he will check with the lock master later to determine when he needs to arrive at the lock to make it through safely.
Photos by Bassmaster Marshal Brian Searcy
Jordan Lee isn't in college anymore; he's in the big leagues now and he likes it that way. The 25-year old Alabama product hasn't experienced a sophomore slump like most people would imagine.
In 2015 he was a rookie and finished in the Top 10 in the Toyota Angler of the Year race with just one Top 12 all year. He was as consistent as you can probably get as a rookie, but it seemed like no big deal and it was business as usual.
In 2016, he has been an animal. When you think of the goliaths in the sport of bass fishing you think of the VanDam's, Hackney's and Swindle's of the sport; well Jordan Lee is right the below them on that list. No really, he is right below the best in the business in the AOY race. He is sitting in 5th in the AOY race.
He is now fishing his 4th Top 12 in a row and his 5th of the season, which is stout for any angler, but considering his age it's impressive. He seems to be competing beyond his years, but hasn't gotten caught up in the moment it seems and has been as humble as they come. Impressed is an understatement. From my perspective, we are watching a rising star begin to bloom.
This is how his 2016 has fared:
St. Johns River - 9th
Winyah Bay - 57th
Bull Shoals/Norfork - 82nd
Wheeler - 40th
Toledo Bend - 44th
Texoma - 9th
Cayuga - 2nd
Potomac - 9th
Mississippi River - 3rd (after Day 3)
Gerald Swindle, with a limit of smallmouth in his livewell, just idled past the fish-less Ott DeFoe. Swindle turned around and idled up to him and shared advice on how and where he caught his limit.
That's an amazing display of sportsmanship for an angler fishing one of the most important days of his 20-year career.
DeFoe genuinely appreciated the advice. Ironically, Swindle caught the limit on the Minnesota side of the river, where he can't go back to for more action due to the no-cull rule.
DeFoe took the advice. He finally put a first keeper into the livewell after catching a smallmouth from a dock, doing exactly what Swindle suggested he do.
"He's helped me before and he just did it again," said DeFoe.
Tournament fishing is a game of ounces and inches, and Alton Jones is adding ounces to his total. He just replaced a 2-pound largemouth with a 2-5 smallmouth, giving him 12-15 and the unofficial lead.
Before I could finish typing that, Jones skied a 3-pounder to the boat. That replaced one of his 2-5 fish. So now he should have 13-7, if his scales and our math are accurate. He's in the lead now with 60-6, just ahead of Seth Feider, who has 58-13.
Gerald Swindle just drove by Ott and hollered out "what are you doing in here?" DeFoe said he didn't have a fish.
This has happened before. In 2011 on the Alabama River Swindle told Ott about the "poop pipe" he'd been fishing that week. DeFoe pulled in there late in the day and caught a bass that earned him his first Elite Series win.
Seth Feider's primary patten seems to be targeting smallmouths that are staged along the current breaks next to wingdams and sandbars. He's switching between a white swim jig with a paddle tail, a Carolina rigged craw, whacky-rigged drop shot and an occasional topwater presentation. By covering water and covering his bases, he's looking for active fish to finish out his limit so he can concentrate on kicker fish.
Although he's covering water, he's still being meticulous and picking each spot apart. A limit fish right now would take a load off of Feider's mind.
We asked our Facebook fans to caption this moment from our Day 3 backstage gallery.
Here are a few of our favorites from Facebook:
Donald Touchton: "Zona said what!"
Steve Peterson: "What DeFoe is happening?!"
Matthew Alex Quintana: "The three stages of faces you make when someone weighs in a big one right in front of you."
Shelby Harrison: "That face you make when you see Dave Mercer parading around on stage wearing a pink pompom mullet."
David Powell: "Tak is explaining the no-cull rule."
Joanne Cannon: "Well would you look at the size of that bass!"
Scott Johnson: "Did you see where that mosquito just bite him!!!!!!!"
Got a better caption? Please share it with us in the comments.