A KVD type of day

KVD is having a KVD type of day while those of us in the photog boat are having the complete opposite.

Currently BASSTrakk shows him with 17 pounds and change. That's a good day.

Of those the photog boat has yet to be around to see a single one, including the 6 to 7-pounder caught early.

At that time he had three fish in his well for 12-4, which seems right if you have a giant. Then he moved. The big waves ate us up and we lost him but on his next stop he caught a 3 and a 2, according to the cameraman in the boat with him. That makes 17-4.

Then he moved. We were able to stay with him this time. On his first four casts he hooked up. He lost three of those but caught a 4-pounder, the first fish that has been photographed by this crew all morning.

If he threw back the 2-pounder that gives him 19-4, and could possibly be enough. But you wouldn't be able to convince many of that.

He still has a lot of day left and some 3-pound class fish to bump out of the well.

Hopefully we will be there for those. Either way KVD isn't leaving the door open for one of these other guys to waltz through.

And now he's hooked up again. He just boated a 4-pound plus smallmouth, bumping a 3-pounder. That should put him well over the 20 pound mark and we may be seeing that door starting to close tightly.

I spy...a bait

What the heck is a spy bait? It’s not a Spy Bait, as in a brand.

At the ramp this morning I approached leader Kevin VanDam about sharing details for the Lures of the Top 12 photo gallery.

“Let’s wait until weigh in” was his reply.

I also spy a clue. Mark Zona on LIVE has eluded that KVD and some other top anglers are using a “spy bait.” Like KVD, the Z Train was secretive about the details.

Something’s up here. There is a lure and technique specifically designed for “spybaiting,” which is a new Japanese technique.

Spy baiting requires light line, a long distance cast, and a sinking style bait that can be crawled back to the boat. It takes patience and refinement.

The Japanese-born tactic also has a bait specifically designed for the technique. It is the Duo Realis Spinbait 80. The manufacturer claims the compact body casts extremely far and provides a heavy rolling action, even on a slow retrieve. Built with an internal ballast, the Duo Realis Spinbait 80 stays deeper for a longer period of time than a traditional prop bait. It also sinks on the pause with a tight wobble action. The props add another element of attraction by producing a strong pulsing as they whiz through the water.

Is Strike King about to release a spy bait? My guess is that if KVD wins that it’ll be out soon, very soon.

Ehrler on a roll

Brent Ehrler is off to a quick start and is already culling. Ehrler, who has two Elite Series 2nd place finishes, since joining in 2015, knows he has to boat a good bag to catch the VanDams. Ehrler noted yesterday that the calm winds allowed him to "really understand" the area he is fishing and gave him a bode of confidence in the fish size. The wind has picked up today, and the cloud cover is apparent, Ehrler now just needs to make some quality culls.

Ehrler is casting jerkbaits to lighter spots, situated on sandy bottom flats. Our boat driver, local guide Dean Meckes, noted the water temperature, is what makes this pattern special. The water temperature is 71 degrees, currently.

It's a treble hook day

Brent Ehrler has already caught a limit this morning with all five coming on a Lucky Craft Pointer 78 jerkbait. He picked up another rod with a different lure for just a minute, then set it back down, saying, "With this weather, it's prime for a jerkbait."

Kevin VanDam has two big ones in the boat already, including a 6-plus-pounder, both on a spy bait, which features two treble hooks.

The point here is that treble-hooked hard baits and these hard-fighting smallmouth bass in the St. Lawrence River can be a frustrating combination. VanDam has lost a good fish today on the spy bait. Casey Ashley said he never picked up a jerkbait Saturday after watching a four-pounder spit one back at him on Friday. And Jamie Hartman thought his treble hook experiences on Friday might have cost him making today's Top 12 before the weigh-in was completed yesterday.

"Stupid jerkbait," Hartman said Saturday. "I dumped a lot of fish Friday. It cost me a bunch."

Hartman dropped to 30th place Friday after catching "only" 17-13. He rallied with 23-6 Saturday.

"I hate treble hooks," Hartman said. "I hate throwing them. And these fish are crazy here."

But this has started as a windy day when you're going to have to take a little pain of losing fish to experience the pleasure of catching some big ones. As Ehrler said, "With this weather, it's prime for the jerkbait."

We've finally pulled up on KVD

We've finally pulled up on KVD. The wind and waves along with the lack of cell service and various other things have kept him out of our sight.

But now we are here and as BASStrakk and the live show has shown, KVD is off to a great start. He's never been known to make it easy on anyone. Today will be no different.

Unfortunately we have yet to see KVD catch a fish. And that's with a big fish hidden in his well.

Hopefully we can stay with him the rest of the day.

A look at the Top 12

The Top 12 anglers who will be competing on Championship Sunday of the HUK Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River presented by Go RVing.

A highly competitive Top 12 have battled it out on this fantastic fishery and made it to Day 4 on the St. Lawrence River. This is a slugfest by definition. There is a mix of seasoned top-tier anglers and young guys (relatively) in the world of professional fishing head out for Championship Sunday and realistically almost all 12 fishermen have a shot to win today. From Kevin VanDam's 7 Angler of the Years and 23 career wins down to Brock Mosley and Brandon Coulter, with their first career Elite Top 12, we have every stage of Elite careers in play today.

The 2013 Champion of this event, Brandon Palaniuk, started down in the pack this week with just 15-15 on Day 1, but has made a charge into 3rd place with 47-4 over the past two days of competition.

Add in a 2-time Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle who has 8 Top 12's in the last two seasons.

Fantastic crop of anglers fishing today, should be a fun battle for fishing fans today.

Here is a list of the Top 12 resumes when it comes to years fished on the Elites and the number of Top 12's in their careers.

1. Kevin VanDam (12 Elite Seasons) - 124 total with 56 coming in Elite/Classic competition
2. Jonathon VanDam (7 Elite Seasons) - 15 total with 11 coming in Elite/Classic competition3.
3. Brandon Palaniuk (7 Elite Seasons) - 23 total with 20 coming in Elite/Classic competition
4. Brent Ehrler (3 Elite Seasons) - 8 total with 6 coming in Elite/Classic competition
5. Casey Ashley (11 Elite Seasons) - 26 total with 25 coming in Elite/Classic competition
6. Brock Mosley (2 Elite Seasons) - 3 total with 1 coming in Elite competition
7. Gerald Swindle (12 Elite Seasons) - 61 total with 32 coming in Elite/Classic competition
8. Bernie Schultz (12 Elite Seasons) - 26 total with 11 coming in Elite/Classic competition
9. Brandon Coulter (3 Elite Seasons) - 2 total with 1 coming in Elite competition
10. James Elam (5 Elite Seasons) - 9 total with 6 coming in Elite/Classic competition
11. Jamie Hartman (1 Elite Season) - 6 total with 4 coming in Elite competition
12. Alton Jones (12 Elite Seasons) - 59 total with 32 coming in Classic/Elite competition

KVD: "That might be a 7-lber."

It takes a lot for Kevin VanDam to say, "Wow," but he just said it more than once after landing a 6-plus pounder, adding, "That might be a seven-pounder."

That was his second bass of the day.

"Wow," said VanDam, again. "I've got two for over 10 pounds to start the day. You can't script it much better."

His first one was a "little" four-pounder. VanDam, by the way, had the previous big bass of the tournament, a 6-1 on Day 1.

What to watch for

Here are key factors to watch for as Championship Sunday plays out.

Wind: Shifted from the south to the north/northeast. That will back up the current based on the flow direction of the river. As a result that could scatter the smallmouth.

Wind, part II: For the guys running to Wolfe Island (Brandon Palaniuk) it will make the long run back rough and time consuming. BP predicts it’ll take two hours for the ride back. That will cut into his fishing time.

Cloud cover: Today will be the first for mostly cloudy skies. That will affect the angler’s ability to sight fish. Some. The quality of the glasses worn by the anglers are capable of actually improving vision in low light conditions. Case in point are the shades worn by Gerald Swindle. He’s wearing a new pair designed in Italy. More on that later.

Look who's leading AOY

In one way, this tournament has been a microcosm of Brandon Palaniuk's season. He started in 72nd place after sacking "only" 15-15 on Day 1. And he enters today in third place, 3-4 behind leader Kevin VanDam.

In Palaniuk's second tournament this year, at Florida's Lake Okeechobee, he finished 105th. When the daily Angler of the Year points were totaled based on yesterday's standings here, Palaniuk was No. 1, with 621 points, followed by Casey Ashley (616) and Kevin VanDam (604).

That could change somewhat when the points become official, based on today's final standings. Whatever the results, it has been a remarkable run for Palaniuk. This marks his fifth Top 12 finish. Other than Okeechobee, Palaniuk's worst finish is 18th at Mississippi's Ross Barnett Reservoir.

"I'm still pissed about Okeechobee," Palaniuk said Saturday. "I'm going to be pissed about Okeechobee all the way until the final day at Mille Lacs (site of the season-ending AOY Championship) or for the rest of my life - one of those two. There's no other way to put it."

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