The last Elite Series event, at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, was as down-to-the-wire a finish as you’re likely to see. Facing a 3 p.m. check-in time, Brent Ehrler took the lead with a 5-pound, 11-ounce bass at 2:30, then Brandon Palaniuk responded with a 5-11 of his own at 2:36, which proved to be the tournament clincher.
However, we’re headed for a tight one again today, and this race has many more contenders. In fact, even at the noon hour, no one in the top 12 is out of it. Yes, there are some guys struggling, but anglers can get well quick here, like Mike Iaconelli did yesterday afternoon.
Matt Lee was in 12th place starting the day, but he was only 6 pounds, 2 ounces behind leader Mark Davis. That’s hardly an insurmountable deficit, and 10 other guys started with less weight to make up.
Davis hasn’t put any major pressure on the other contenders with his 12-0 limit so far today. He’s said from the start that he believes 16 pounds-a-day will win this tournament. So 64-0 is a number to keep in mind. Davis still needs 3 1/2 pounds to reach it.
As tough and inconsistent at Lake Dardanelle has been, it has still produced big bags of 19-3, 19-4 and 18-14 the last three days. Another bag like that or bigger is well within the possibility at this fishery. That’s all to say this tournament is still wide open.