KVD on the big fish hole

VanDam just moved back into Pirate's Cove on the spot where he's caught his big fish this week. He's within grasp of this title, and he has the right conditions to keep capitalizing as the days wanes on. That big kicker bite hasn't occurred yet, but he's in the spot for it to happen.

KVD's armada of spectators are leaving him plenty of room on this spot, which will allow him to concentrate on making the right cast. I've got a feeling that a big fish is about to show up...

Combs upgrades

Combs just culled with a 3 1/2-pounder, according to Steve Bowman, who says he's got three 6-pounders, a 3-pounder that 3 1/2 in his livewell now, which should put him right at 24 1/2 pounds. 

He's on the spot at the mouth of San Miguel is where's he caught all the big ones this week. He's alternating between this spot and a ledge on the Sabine River channel.

Combs getting bit with every cast

Keith Combs just put the hurtin' on another 6-pounder to cull up.  He's got the momentum and the confidence that he's going to sack up 30 pounds before day's end.

He is getting bit literally every cast.  He's weeding through a bunch of white bass to find the large mouths.

His last catch culled up a few ounces to put him somewhere near 18 pounds for the morning.

The VanDam influence

On Championship Sunday everyone fishes for the win. There's nothing to gain otherwise in a field of 12 anglers. 

When Kevin VanDam leads he clearly influences the mental attitudes of everyone behind him in the standings. That's partly out of respect, partly due to survival. 

"If nothing else I'm going to make him work for it."

That's what Chris Lane said this morning. Lane, also one of the best at this game, had VanDam on his mind. Lane didn't choose to comment that it's him against the bass. When KVD leads like he is now, it's all about competing against him. 

Paul Mueller is one of the anglers behind VanDam. He's duplicated quotes already made this morning by those followers. 

"I've got to have 30 pounds to even be near him."

Lane and Keith Combs used the same 30-pound benchmark when commenting what they need to do today. 

Lane working his way south

Chris Lane called that early morning audible I wrote about earlier and he decided to start on the Louisiana side of Toledo Bend. 

Since his first stop he has hopped around and slowly made his way south. I've been waiting for his big run south into Texas, but Lane mentioned when that wind lays down some then he may make that move. 
It's gotten pretty calm on the shielded Cajun side, but we can still see a definitive ripple on the water across the lake.

KVD culling

A solid three-pounder just took a swim in VanDam's livewell, replacing a 1-pounder and putting him closer to wrapping this thing up. As I said before the BASSTrakk faux pas, he's one big bite from being untouchable.

He's fishing an offshore underwater point with a big crankbait, and he's been here each day culling up each time. He will again before this is over.

He just said that he can see the fish on his Humminbird units, but making them eat is the task.

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Monroe with a limit

Monroe is keying in on cypress tree roots, hitting them at a specific angle to trigger the strike, this has rewarded him with a limit worth over 15-pounds in just an hour. In previous days, key bites have come on bushes or the bases of trees today he said, "I'm hopping it off the base and into the roots, that's when they're picking it up and swimming off with the bait."
It certainly looks like he is implementing this pattern well. He just boated one more that didn't help.

Chris Lane's big cull

Chris Lane said he really wanted a bite during the 8:30 to 10:30 time period today and although he did go through an hour drought, he got his desired bite at 9:45.
He set the hook after he got a blow up on his whopper plopper and fought a quality fish to the boat. He swung aboard a 4 to 4 1/2 pounder that swallowed half of his bait. It was a big cull as he released one less than two pounds back into Toledo Bend. 
Great way to end a lull and that boosted his bag to at least 15 pounds. 

Combs headed for 30 pounds?

Keith Combs is hot. He's got about 23 1/2 pounds in the boat now, and he's expecting to hit 30 pounds before the day ends, according to Steve Bowman, who is on the water nearby.

"He's catching one on every cast right now," Bowman said. "It might be a small one or it might be a white bass, but he just caught a 6-pounder. That's his third 6-pounder today. He's got those three, a 3-pounder and a 2 1/2-pounder."

Combs is throwing a Tennessee shad-colored Strike King 6XD, which is his strength. As Bowman noted, "Keith Combs is the only guy out here that can stay right with Kevin VanDam in terms of power-fishing with a big crankbait."

On the positive side for Combs is the fact that he has only three boats observing him. On the negative side, he started the day almost 17 pounds behind VanDam.

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Biffle bugged by bystanders

Bystanders are fishing in Biffle's wake. Tommy hasn't complained but his Marshall is shaking her baffled head.   Other onlookers are very courteous. 

Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Gwen Reed.