VanDam's next trophy?

It's still early in the day but there is another potential career benchmark in reach for Kevin VanDam.

Sure, he's fishing for a 21st win. Yet now VanDam is offshore where he can exploit his greatest strength and potenially significantly upgrade his weight. 

Should he continue upgrading VanDam has the possiblity of breaking the 100-pound mark for a win. He can certainly do that on a lake with the bass-producing potential of Toledo Bend. 

That puts him in what's referred to unofficially as the B.A.S.S. Century Club by trivia aficionados. Catching 100 pounds or better in a 5-bass limit tournament gets you in. But it's a higher mark when you win the tournament, too. 

VanDam has never won a tournament with 100 pounds or more.

In 2010 he came close, winning an Elite Series event on Kentucky Lake, doing, you guessed it, cranking offshore. His weight there was 92 pounds, 5 ounces. 

Cherry using 'Same Thing' to push toward a limit

Hank Cherry just put two more good fish in the boat, and he caught both of them on the Same Thing.

Seriously, that's the name of the bait he's using.

Creme Lures has a line of plastics that is literally called "The Same Thing." Cherry is using one of them as a trailer for his jig, and he believes the bulkier profile of the plastic is helping him with these Toledo Bend bass.

After his most recent fish - a 4-pounder that created some drama by wrapping around a tree limb - Cherry took the time to pitch his bait over into our boat.

That's photographer James Overstreet holding it.

No wifi where Monroe is at

B.A.S.S. photographer Seigo Saito just sent us this photo of Ish Monroe battling a nice bass to the boat. Seigo said we may not see an actual gallery from him today, as there is no wifi signal to be found where Monroe is catching 'em. He's lucky to be able to shoot us a single photo here and there. We've told Seigo we'll take them any way we can get them - just keep us posted. 

BASSTrakk currently has Monroe in third place, almost eight pounds behind behind leader Kevin VanDam. On a body of water like Toledo Bend where 10-pound + lunkers are lurking, Monroe is two phenomenal culls away from a win.

Topping KVD possible, but improbable

Kevin VanDam entered Day 4 with a sizeable lead after three 20-plus pound bags, but it's completely possible an angler could sack a monster bag and catch him.

Just last Friday, Lane Martin and his son, Hunter, caught five fish that would have made a 42.97-pound bag. Yeah, a bag of a lifetime. Lane took in a fish he hoped made the 10-pound cut to the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, but it was just a tad shy at 9-13.

He told the woman working the scales at Fin and Feather he'd be back with his 10, and sure enough, it wasn't long before he caught a 10.24. Hunter later caught one that went 8-8 and their best five went 42.97. (See story in Louisiana Sportsmen.)

A bag like that might do the trick for any of the top, but KVD has a good head start on all of them. He began Day 4 with a 5-12 lead on Chris Lane, 8-15 over Ish Monroe, 11-10 over Cherry, 15-2 over Mueller and 17-14 over Combs.

If Combs busted a bag like the Martins, KVD would need only 25 pounds.

VanDam is probably shooting for 25-4, since that would give him his first 100-pound tournament and get him a Century Club belt, about the only thing missing from in career.

KVD out deep

Kevin VanDam just swapped out all the rods on the deck of his boat for a whole new stash -- the deep crankbait rigs. The difficult part is the wind has kicked up a sizable chop, which can turn the bite on but make boat control a nightmare.

This will probably be the norm for the rest of the day.

Monroe heating up with the sun

Monroe landed his first keeper of the day just after 9 o'clock. "I told you 9 o'clock and I'll catch one," he was a little late, only because the fish that bit 5 minutes earlier did not make it in the boat.

His first keeper is right around 3 pounds and was caught on a jig around the base of a tree in a couple of feet of water.

His bite is heating up, just as I was sending in the blog in Ish landed a 5-pound class fish.

He's heating up fast, the "fish are starting to set up on the shady side just like they should be."

"The bluegill begin getting active around the bushes (and trees) when the sun gets high and the water gets calm."

With a low-light the sun casts a broad shadow, a higher-light casts a more isolated shadow, bringing the fish in tighter to the cover.

In 15 minutes Ish has landed two worth about 8 pounds. 

Biffle with a limit

Tommy Biffle has a limit. This one is munching on mudbugs and Biffle Bugs.

Photos by Bassmaster Marshal Gwen Reed

AOY points for leaders

Beyond the obvious there are several anglers fishing on Championship Sunday that will get a bonus lift in the standings for Toyota Angler of the Year. 

Currently, Hank Cherry is fourth with 419 points. Keith Combs is eighth with 400 points. Cherry and Combs are the only two anglers fishing who are near the top of the AOY standings. 

Both anglers will get a much needed boost in the points. So will Kevin VanDam, obvoiusly. Before now he was 27th.

Ish Monroe, with 366 points, will move up from 19th place. So will Stephen Browning, in 28th place with 341 points. 

Of all the anglers fishing on Day 4 who needs the lift the most is Tommy Biffle, in 57th place with 291 points. Last year Biffle narrowly missed qualifying for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. He did that at an Open event on Fort Gibson, his home lake, where he nearly won the tournament. Winning an Open comes with an automatic berth. 

Of course it's way too early to begin predictions. There is plenty of flipping and pitching water on Lake Texoma, site of the next tournament. Look for Biffle to carry over his confidence from a good performance here to BASSfest. 

(Footnote: Although Open events don't count for AOY standings, Biffle has another shot at the Classic before BASSfest. The next B.A.S.S. event is an Open on the Arkansas River, not far from Biffle's home.)

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