Ashley far up river

At almost exactly 7 a.m., this morning, Casey Ashley made his first cast a full hour after take off. That's just a frame of reference to give you an idea of how far up river Ashley traveled.

When we got behind him for the last 5 miles he was leading the pack at 74 miles an hour.

It wasn't long before he was here and he hooked up with his first fish, a dink. Yesterday he caught fish early and often. We assume that will happen today. But when we set down we noticed a remarkable difference in the current.

It's been ripping all week. And while this is the first time we've been on this exact spot, it should have more current than what we are seeing.

Not sure how that will impact things today. And as soon as that was typed he hooks up.

After a lengthy battle he puts one in the 4-pound range in the boat. It's a great start. Obviously the current may not be a factor.

St. Lawrence sets new marks

Several Elite Series anglers proclaimed Texas’ Sam Rayburn Reservoir the best bass fishery in the U.S. after the BASSfest tournament in May. If that’s true, then what is the St. Lawrence River?

Based on total weight to make the Day 2 cut and advance to Day 3, the St. Lawrence River has set a new mark for the 2017 season, not only surpassing Sam Rayburn, but topping it by quite a bit. When you consider Rayburn is a largemouth bass factory and most of the bass caught here are smallmouth bass, it makes these figures even more remarkable.

Here are the numbers for 51st place on the first two days from the seven Elite Series tournaments this season:

Day 1Day 2

Cherokee Lake


Lake Okeechobee


Toledo Bend Reservoir


Ross Barnett Reservoir


Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Lake Dardanelle 


St. Lawrence River



Day 2 almost matches Day 1

The first two days of this tournament in some ways were totally different, but after all was said and done, they were remarkably the same. There wasn’t the early-morning flurry on Day 2 that highlighted Day 1. Whether it was the anglers having to adjust or the bite turning on later, around 11 a.m., on Day 2, the 109 Elite Series anglers ended up catching almost the same amount of fish they did on Day 1. It certainly didn’t feel like that would be the case for most of Friday.

Day 1 Day 2
5-bass limits 105 104
20-lb. bags 20 13
Bass weighed-in 537 532
Ave. weight 3.45 lbs. 3.32 lbs.
Big bag 24-5 25-0
Big bass 6-1 5-11

Can Palaniuk maintain the rally?

Brandon Palaniuk was considered one of the pre-tournament favorites at the St. Lawrence River based on his win in 2013 and a 19th-place finish in 2015. Then he finished in 72nd place on Day 1, which he called "by far, my worst day ever here."

However, he remained optimistic.

"I told my marshal that I feel like if I can catch 24 pounds the next three days, I've still got a shot," Palaniuk said.

Then he went out and had his had his best day ever on the St. Lawrence River - 25 pounds even, the big bag of the tournament. Combined with his 15-15 on Day 1, Palaniuk's two-day total is now 40-15, which has him in 9th place. Most importantly, it has his daily average just over 20 pounds, which is what everyone thinks it's going to take to win here.

Palaniuk begins the Day 3 only 2-14 behind leader Kevin VanDam. If he were to rally from 72nd place and win this tournament, it would be the most remarkable feat in Palaniuk's already remarkable Elite Series career.

Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Rick Moore

Ike catching hats

Mike Iaconelli wasn't happy with his day on the water but was cheered up when young anglers from the Northern New York Junior Bassmasters converged on him at the ramp to sign their hats. When one fell in the water, Ike had to get up and "catch" it, which immediately resulted in more hats being thrown in and Ike trying to get his limit...and some thrilled young fishermen from New York.

Hanging with the "in" crowd

B.A.S.S. emcee Dave Mercer has some fun after the weigh-in on Friday with local Jr. Bassmaster members CJ, Cole, Chase and Ty Jacobs, along with their younger siblings, Casey and Quinn Jacobs.

We at B.A.S.S. are extremely proud of all Junior Bassmasters and the work they do volunteering at events such as the Huk Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River presented by Go RVing!

(Photo courtesy of Rondalyn Jacobs)

LIVE: Mercer in a bounce castle

Dave Mercer, in a bounce castle. 

Wind starting to blow

The wind is starting to blow and that may be having an impact on those smallmouth guys on the main river.

It's not hurting Lefebre, though, at least not yet.

We are a long way from the weigh-in as are many of the anglers. And while the waves on the St. Lawrence are nothing compared to what's rolling on Lake Ontario, it can still get bumpy.

The ride home will likely have a little pain involved in it.

Good day on green

Dave Lefebre is having a good day on the green fish. In the last 15 minutes, he's culled three times.

BassTrakk shows him shy of 17 pounds but judging by what we've seen, he has more than that in his well and they are all largemouth.

This all fairly straight forward fishing, hitting what's in front of you and moving on. And of course he has it all to him self.

Palaniuk making a comeback

Brandon Palaniuk was not a happy man at Thursday's weigh-in. The St. Lawrence River, where he won in 2013 and finished 19th in 2015, is one of his favorite fisheries. And Palaniuk came into this event with Angler of the Year aspirations, although he'd never acknowledge that. A win at BASSfest on Sam Rayburn has been the highlight in his third-place AOY points total after six events.

Then came his 15-15 bag on Day 1, which left Palaniuk in 72nd place.

"By far it was the worst day I've ever had here," he said. "Missed opportunities. Then it got really tough for me, and I don't know why. But I did have the opportunities to weigh probably close to 20 pounds."

Apparently Palaniuk is taking advantage of those opportunities today, as BASSTrakk shows him with a 19-3 limit that has him up to 15th place.

Palaniuk offered this as to why Day 1 overall surpassed pre-tournament expectations, saying, "The fish are more spread out. There are more opportunities to catch them different ways, deep and shallow."