Classic berths at stake

James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, had a great day yesterday, but fishing isn't on the same pace today. We trolled over from where Brandon Card was fishing to chat with James, who was tied for 14th with 15-0 after one day of fishing. He's caught one keeper this morning. At this time yesterday, he had his limit. "I'm not too concerned, though," he told us. "All my better ones yesterday came in the afternoon." He is pitching some type of soft plastic bait into submerged weeds in about less than 10 feet of water.


It's too far away for us to see exactly what he's using, even with my binoculars and Seigo's 300 mm lens. In other tournaments I've covered this season, fishermen were working shorelines, usually junk fishing or sight fishing, and it was possible to pull almost alongside them to visit with them and study their lure selections. Here, where they're roaming and crisscrossing grassbeds, they'll wave you off if you get within 50 yards.


Like so many of the pros on Oneida Lake this week, Niggemeyer is scrambling for a berth in the Bassmaster Classic. He's in 68th place in the points standings now, about  95 points away from the cut. I'm not good at complex math equations, but my gut tells me he's got to win this event to earn an invitation to Tulsa, Okla., next February.


Mike Iaconelli was concerned going into this tournament whether he would make the Big Show as well. He said that's what has driven him to perform here. After his field-leading 20-3 limit yesterday, he tried to convince reporters that his eye is on the Classic, not the $100,000 prize for winning the Ramada Championship. "I don't want to sound like I don't want to win," he said, "but I'm thinking about making the Classic." I'm not sure I believe him, but it makes good fodder for blogging.

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