At first glance it looks like 29-year-old Brandon Cobb of nearby Greenwood, S.C., has this tournament won. With a 5-pound, 10-ounce lead over second-place Micah Frazier and competing on Lake Hartwell, which he’s fished since he was old enough to walk, all the arrows point to Cobb, who has led this tournament since Day 1.
However, we’ve already seen stranger things happen on the Elite Series trail this year than someone coming from way back to overtake the Day 3 leader. Rick Clunn was in 8th place, 11 pounds, 13 ounces, behind leader Chris Johnston, when he rallied to win at the St. Johns River in February.
But it will take the Lake Hartwell equivalent of Clunn’s 34-pound, 14-ounce final day at St. Johns to overtake Cobb. That would probably be something in the neighborhood of a 22- to 25-pound bag. So everyone chasing Cobb will be trophy-hunting today.
“The only way to do that is burn down the bank and pass up two-pounders,” said Stetson Blaylock, who jumped from 10th place Friday to third place Saturday with a 19-3 limit. It included a 5-pound, 13-ounce largemouth bass, the biggest of the tournament so far. “I probably wasted two or three hours on two-pounders (Saturday) before I had a limit. Now at this point in the game, if you’re going to catch Brandon and have a shot to win, you better be looking for big ones.”
Blaylock noticed more big bass moving shallow to spawning beds Saturday than he had during the two previous tournament days.
“A lot of those big ones still didn’t get up there right, but I trolled over some whales that were just getting up there,” he said. “That just tells me that, if it’s going to happen, it would happen (Sunday). You’ll see a 22- to 25-pound bag.”
Cobb has been consistent all week with limits weighing 19-9, 17-8 and 18-5. If anyone is going to catch him, it will probably take a bag the likes of which we haven’t seen this week. Drew Cook’s 20-6 on Friday is the heaviest limit of the week – so far.