Palaniuk is the drama king

Brandon Palaniuk just summed up his day so far as he prepared to make another short move.

"I hate drama, but somehow I always end up in it," he said.

After settling into another spot, he promptly caught a 3-12, bumping him up to 14-10 on the day. It came on the Texas-rigged Zoom Ol' Monster worm.

"That's more like it right there," added the drama king, with emphasis.

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LIVE: Ehrler starts Day 4 with a flurry

Day 1 and 2 leader Brent Ehrler looked to jump into the top spot with a final day flurry to start the morning at Sam Rayburn.

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LIVE: Cherry catches big one on Day 4

Hank Cherry started the final day in 3rd place and after landing this 5-14 it certainly helped his cause on Day 4 at Sam Rayburn.

Ehrler off to his slowest start of the tournament

Today, at 10 o’clock CT Brent Ehrler checks in with 11 pounds, 11 ounces — his slowest start of the tournament.  

Where was he on the first three days by 10 a.m.?

Day 1: 14-3; including a 7-2.

Day 2: 21-6; including a 4-12, 4-3, and a 5-5.

Day 3: 21-0; including a 4-pounder and a 5-10.

 Day 1 has been his best day to date with 25-6, good enough for the lead in the opening round. Ehrler did not catch his big bass, which is still in the lead for the new Toyota truck, a 9-1 fish until 10:53.

 Day 2, Ehrler caught his largest fish, a 5-5, at 8:18, and would finish the day with 22-5 and the lead.

 Day 3, Ehrler weighed 24-3, he did not catch his largest fish until late in the day, a 6-pounder that help him close the margin between him and Brandon Palaniuk coming into Championship Sunday to just 2 ounces.

 A shadow race may have Ehrler trailing against his first three days, but he has plenty of time to go and is still in the lead, unofficially, with Palaniuk 2 ounces behind. 

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An upward trend, barely

Brandon Palaniuk has a limit now and has turned around the trend of progressively smaller fish - barely. His fifth came on the vibrating jig and weighed 1-15, giving him a total of 12-11.

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A big ol' 1-13

This is not a good trend - each of Brandon Palanuik's now four bass today has gotten progressively smaller. His latest?

"A big ol' 1-13 gettin' it done," Palaniuk said.

But he'll take it at this point. It came on a vibrating jig. That puts him up to 10-12.

No more two horse race

Jordan Lee has obviously dialed into a sweet spot in his given area. He started today in 9th place, about 15 pounds out of first place. Now he’s within 3 pounds of taking the lead. What’s notable about that is the slow action for the anglers ahead of him, Brent Ehrler and Brandon Paluniak. While they falter the Classic champ is moving up the scoreboard.

We don’t have details about his area but the duo of lures I reported on earlier are the perfect choice for such an area. A 10-inch Strike King Rage Thumper Worm, Carolina or Texas rigged to heavy weights, is the deep water choice. That, of course, is unless he switched lures.

Regardless, a heavy duty Carolina or Texas rigged worm is ideal for catching bass funneling out to deep water areas for the summer. Lee could be fishing in such an area, as the bigger bass funnel down a contour line into deeper water. Ideally, he is catching those bass off isolated bottom structure, such as a brushpile, rockpile or bottom feature.

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Palaniuk makes a move

Brandon Palaniuk just made a short move to a protected area known as Deer Stand. He's caught fish on a topwater bait here this week. He had a blow up but no hook up on one of his first casts. That's more encouragement than he's had in awhile, as he's still got only three keepers on the board.

2017 - Year of the Rookies

The 2017 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year battle has been fierce so far this year. With 11 rookies battling for the title, we've seen some impressive finishes from those anglers including a win by Dustin Connell this year. Here is how the year has stacked out for points, cuts and more!

Almost every event this year has had a rookie fishing on Championship Sunday.

Cherokee: 2 finished in the Top 12. Jamie Hartman in 2nd and Jesse Wiggins in 3rd.
Okeechobee: Jesse Tacoronte finished 16th.
Toledo Bend: Jamie Hartman finished 3rd.
Ross Barnett: Dustin Connell took the victory as a Rookie.
Sam Rayburn: Alton Jones Jr. made Top 12 in 8th place.

The 11 Rookies have combined for 23 Top 51 cuts, 4 Top 12 cuts and 1 victory in 2017.

1. Dustin Connell: 411 points (37th, 26th, 56th, 1st, 24th)
2. Mark Daniels Jr: 358 points (40th, 65th, 28th, 39th, 25th)
3. Jesse Wiggins: 319 points (3rd, 40th, 42nd, 69th, 82nd)
4. Jamie Hartman: 314 points (2nd, 84th, 3rd, 63rd, 89th)
5. Alton Jones Jr: 286 points (25th, 33rd, 103rd, 100th, 8th-currently)
6. Jesse Tacoronte: 190 points (91st, 16th, 91st, 80th, 87th)
7. Darrell Ocamica: 175 points (50th, 99th, 77th, 48th, 106th)
8. Skylar Hamilton: 175 points (22nd, 48th, 101st, 109th, 100th)
9. Gerald Sphorer: 140 points (81st, 86th, 108th, 72nd, 68th)
10. Tyler Carriere: 110 points (82nd, 45th, 107th, 108th, 103rd)
11. Robbie Latsuo: 96 points (106th, 106th, 110th, 106th, 31st)

J. Lee playing strengths

When questioned about his patterns at a given tournament Jordan Lee oftentimes refers to what he does as “like fishing back home.” That is Lake Guntersville, another powerhouse bass fishery where you can hone techniques for a given pattern and take those on the road.

Lee made the reference to me again yesterday when interviewed about his lures.

Like the other leaders he is focused on transitional, postspawn bass that are now mostly on the final break line contours bordering deep water. That means using a combination of topwaters for early action and deep, finesse lures on the deeper side of the water column. The bass feed on spawn or bluegill early, then move out to the deeper contours.

That is oftentimes the setup on Guntersville, Lee’s home lake. The bass use those contrasting depths as ambush points and staging areas before finally moving deeper to spend the summer in the offshore hydrilla beds.

To move up the scoreboard, and he is now in 3rd place on BASSTrakk, Lee is using a big worm with a 1-ounce weight on a Carolina Rig, and alternatively a shaky head setup for the same worm. For early action he’s been using a plastic frog. Just like home.

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