Storm cancels Sunday fishing

Due to hazardous weather the top 12 anglers won't fish Sunday on Ross Barnett. The Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett will be delayed until Monday.

The National Weather Service reports storms approaching from Louisiana into Miss. should arrive in the Ross Barnett area from 9:00 -10:00 a.m. and continue through the afternoon. These storms currently contain significant lightning. The possibility of severe weather today includ​es​ hail, wind, and isolated tornados.​

The championship round will now take place on Monday​, with takeoff at 6:00 a.m. and the final weigh-in shortly after 2:00 p.m.

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Weather could shut down fishing Sunday

If you've followed this tournament you've probably noticed we've had serious wind at Ross Barnett and Ridgeland, Miss. The National Weather Service reports winds yesterday were blowing at a sustained level of 31 miles per hour, with gusts of 41. Currently it's blowing at 18 to 20 with gusts of 40 mph. 

There's a big storm front moving in from the west that could impact Championship Sunday. The National Weather Service has issued a "Hazardous Weather Outlook" for Sunday with the following description:

"100 percent chance of severe thunderstorms. Some severe, will produce tremendous rainfall... Life-threatening flash flooding is expected with these storms," with pockets receiving 4 to 6 inches of rain. 

Bassmaster tournament officials are in communication with the National Weather Service and will make a decision about Sunday fishing either this evening or early Sunday morning. Per Bassmaster Elite Series rules, if Sunday is cancelled the tournament would finish on Monday, with projected times of a 6:00 a.m. take-off and the first fish weighed in at 2 p.m.

Keep an eye on and our social media channels for more news about the Championship round.

Skylar's minus 1 pound explained

It was the most unusual total weight you’ll ever see on a Bassmaster Elite Series leaderboard. Zeroes are common, especially at certain sites. But Skylar Hamilton’s minus 1 pound after Day 1 at Ross Barnett had some people, including me, scratching their heads.

“I’ve had more people ask me about that than anything about the tournament leaders,” said B.A.S.S. tournament director Trip Weldon.

The only bass Hamilton caught measured just short of the 14-inch minimum length limit. The penalty is 1 pound, and weight of the short fish doesn’t count, hence minus 1.

“It measured (14 inches) on my board twice,” said the 22-year-old Elite Series rookie from Dandridge, Tenn. “I knew it was going to be close. You don’t ever want to bring in a short fish, but I just wanted to start out with something.”

Hamilton has had a decent rookie season so far, with ups and downs typical of a newcomer on the Elite Series. He earned a $10,000 check in his first two tournaments, finishing 22nd at Lake Cherokee and 48th at Lake Okeechobee. Hamilton finished 41st in his first Bassmaster Classic. But he was 101st at Toledo Bend and last (109th) here. However, he did catch three bass totaling 6-4 on Day 2.

Hamilton is fishing from an aluminum Xpress Boat, which allowed him into some backwaters off the Pearl River headwaters of Ross Barnett where others couldn’t go. It could have been a good plan. 

“I was bed fishing in those places,” he said. “I could get in there by crossing some sandbars and stumps and trees. I saw 20 pounds of fish. I spent two hours on a 6-pounder and didn’t catch her. Then I lost a 3-pounder. I left to go to another backwater area and the river had dropped where I couldn’t get in there. I had nowhere to go at that point. This is a bad place to have no place to go.”

Hamilton didn’t get his outboard above idle speed Friday. He idled out of the takeoff area, then put the trolling motor down to fish the riprap around the dam. 

“I knew it was going to be windy, and there wasn’t any need for me to go up the river and get in everybody’s way,” he said.

Lefebre cashes in

Lefebre cashes in on bite window

Numbers before noon

We’ve heard about the morning bite on Ross Barnett Reservoir since we arrived. Here’s a chart showing how important the numbers by noon are here on the “Rez.”

Of 51 anglers, there were 204 fish caught before noon on Day 3. 

With a sample size of 109 of the best in the world on Day 1 and Day 2, 78% and 74%, of the total fish caught were before noon.

Numbers before noon

We’ve heard about the morning bite on Ross Barnett Reservoir since we arrived. Here’s a chart showing how important the numbers by noon are here on the “Rez.”

Of 51 anglers, there were 204 fish caught before noon on Day 3. 

With a sample size of 109 of the best in the world on Day 1 and Day 2, 78% and 74%, of the fish total fish caught were before noon.

Connell hooks up

Dustin Connell hooks up

Walkers "biggest recovery ever"

David Walker’s final hours on Ross Barnett Reservoir yesterday would be encouraging for anyone struggling at this point today. It would be difficult to be any more frustrated than Walker was at 1 p.m. Friday.

“I’ve fished a lot of tournaments, and I’ve had some quirky things happen ­– last-minute heroics and last–minute disappointments,” said Walker, 51, a veteran tournament angler whose record includes 147 B.A.S.S. tournaments and 11 Bassmaster Classic qualifications. “Today was my biggest recovery ever.”

Walker started the day in 91st place after weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces on Day 1. And he had no fish in the boat at noon.

“I’d caught two, and neither would keep,” Walker said. “They were 11-inchers. I hadn’t even had any bites in awhile. I was pinned down by the wind by that time. So the only thing I could fish was what was available. I just kept grinding.

“But I’d thought, hell, we’ll just go in here pretty soon. Screw it. What’s the point? I’m in the 90s. Then I caught a 4 1/2-pounder that just smoked it. You know, there’s a big difference between working your lure in and just winding your line in. After that, I started fishing.”

Walker caught a 4-pounder and a 3-pounder in the next 15 minutes, made a short move and caught another 3-pounder.

Now we’re running out of time,” Walker said. “I had to be in at 3:20, and I wanted to give myself 20 to 30 minutes to get there because of the wind. My marshal told me it was 2:50.” 

Walker stowed all his rods but one, made a short move, dropped the trolling motor, made one cast and, bingo. His fifth fish was a 2-pounder. 

“I said, ‘We are gone.’ Mission accomplished. We got back no problem. I drove back smiling. Every wave we hit, I didn’t care.”

Walker weighed the biggest bag of the day, 18 pounds, 5 ounces. It vaulted him from 91st place to 36th with 25-7. He’s moved up to 27th today with a 9-pound, 8-ounce limit, according to BASSTrakk. That’s a long way from 91st place and no bass in the boat at 1 p.m. yesterday.

Moving up, down

We are seeing some movement in the leaderboard, the likes of which has not happened thus far. Here are the anglers making moves up and down the rankings. The first numeral is the offical rank after Day 2. In parenthesis is their unofficial position in BASSTrakk.

2. Mark Menendez (8) 

3. Brandon Card (12)

4. Dave Lefebre (14)

6. Mark Davis (18)

8. Jonathon VanDam (2)

15. Brent Chapman (4)

17. Kevin VanDam (5)