AdvBassStats: Seminole Report

Welcome to the AdvBassStats report on the second event of the 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule at Lake Seminole. It was a quick turnaround for the anglers, coming directly from the Okeechobee event the previous week to the Florida-Georgia border.
Seminole is among the smaller of the lakes that the Elite field will see this year. Normal water temp for this time of year would put it as the coldest water they’ll see – actual temps varied widely with the shallow water, but it was warmer than normal.
One interesting comparison point with previous week’s event at Okeechobee is the ratio of surface area to shoreline. Being a riverine impoundment, Seminole has less than 1/10th the surface area of Okeechobee’s giant bowl, but three times as much shoreline. While the Elite anglers tend to find the areas where fish are biting best and get concentrated, Seminole should give more options for elbow room.
This was a big event for Elite Series rookies. First year Elite angler Will Davis led the field on the Thursday. On Friday, Joey Cifuentes took the lead with what would wind up being the best bag of the tournament at 26-1.
The Day 2 weights graph looks prettier, but there was very little actual difference – only 0.2 pounds average per angler which is about 21 total pounds across the whole field. Those extra weights were distributed strategically, shifting four anglers to the over 22-pound color ranges and another eight that moved from just below 15 pounds to just above. 
The defining stats for the Seminole event were around the compression of weights. That showed itself in a couple of ways on Saturday.
When weights are close after two days, good bags get rewarded on Day 3. Looking at the Day 3 weights vs. Day 3 standings, we see that eight of the 11 anglers bringing over 18 pounds to scale on Saturday made the cut for the Sunday field, and a ninth was just a hair below 18 pounds.
Entering Saturday, the gap between the 50th-place angler and the 10th was less than 7 pounds – a very reachable target. In most events it would take a heroic bag to gain that many spots. The events where we see a low gap are typically at a venue like the Mississippi River of last year, where all the fish are the same size and there is no hope of making a giant leap against the field.  With the projected Top 10 cutline at Seminole being approximately 52 pounds, it was only going to take a low-20s bag to move from the very back into the Sunday field. Mark Menendez, starting the day in 49th place, almost did it. His unofficial BassTrakk weight had had him inside the Top 10, but the actual scale weight was a bit short. He did gain 30 spots with his 20-4 bag.
In the end, Seminole was mostly a showcase event for Joey Cifuentes. He took the lead on Friday, extended it on Saturday and extended again on Sunday to arrive at an 8-12 final margin of victory. While most of the field was deep in the stumps and grass looking for their fish in the shallows, Cifuentes used his forward-facing sonar to locate clusters of prespawn fish among submerged timber in 20 feet of water. That’s two-for-two on Elite Series tournaments won this year with unconventional tactics for the season and the region, and both leaning on their technology to find the winning fish.
Kyoya Fujita, another Elite Series Rookie made a big push on Saturday and Sunday to finish second. I saw a lot of docks in the background while he was on Bassmaster LIVE. 
Tyler Rivet, coming off his victory at Okeechobee the previous week, finished third. He appeared to be in his Louisiana element, fishing some of the swampiest, weediest, shallowest water of anybody.
Rivet’s incredible start with back-to-back top three finishes have him on top of the AOY rankings.  Carl Jocumsen missed a second consecutive Top 10 cut by 3 ounces at Seminole. With a sixth at Okeechobee and an 11th at Seminole he’s off to a great start, but he must be surprised to be 13 points behind the leader. Cifuentes’ Seminole win pairs nicely with his 19th-place finish at Okeechobee and lands him in third.
The Elite Series regular season goes on an eight-week break now to make room for the Bassmaster Classic in March. The next set of 2023 Elite events will be another pair of back-to-backs at Lake Murray and Santee Cooper in late April.