Championship Live Blog, Day Two

Follow the action live at the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship on the Alabama River during Toyota Trucks All-Star week.

Day Two – Alabama River

3:59 p.m.

Evers has checked in and Swindle is taking it to the last second. Unless he boats a giant, that will be it for the blog today. We will be back in the morning, following our last two anglers, with some coverage of our Legends fishing as well.

The weigh in starts in a lttle more than hour.

– Steve Bowman

3:56 p.m.

Just a few minutes left and Ott and Casey have checked in. Evers is fishing at the check-in dock and Swindle is not in sight.

– Steve Bowman

3:50 p.m.

No sooner did I finish and send that last blog than Edwin Evers ran by me up the lake. As he did, he looked back at me and made the universal gesture for big fish, hands spread wide, palms facing inward.
Maybe Evers got the monster he was looking for.
-Rob Russow

3:40 p.m.

Evers has continued looking around some backwater areas as he works his way up from the dam.

Does he feel confident about the 12 pounds in his well?

“I feel pretty good considering I’ve just been practicing for the last three hours,” Evers said. “But in the back of my mind I’m thinking about Scroggins getting knocked out yesterday with 12 pounds.”

In Evers case he knows Casey Ashley had a small bag yesterday, but so did he. Today is a new day and he doesn’t want to assume he has advanced. So while he said he’s been practicing, he also has been hitting some places where he has gotten bites in the past.

Amazingly, I think there are clouds everywhere except directly overhead, the sun continues to shine right on our heads. I cant decide which is worse, hot or soaked.

-Rob Russow

3:28 p.m.

Looking at the catch information from yesterday, there were a total of 8 keepers that hit the livewell during the last hour and a half.

I doubt that many will come today, but you never know. The thing is there’s not a match up that we have going that two fish of the right caliber couldn’t change the whole complexion or outcome.

It will be intersting to see how that plays out.

–Steve Bowman

3:18 p.m.

By now, DeFoe has to feel fairly relaxed given what he’s got in the well. While we’re no longer on him, he’s undoubtedly ran up the Tallapoosa.

He sounded confident that he could catch a fish or two there, which would just further bury Swindle. Regarding Ott’s best two spots,

I wondered how they would hold up to the pressure he’s putting on them. Together, they make up a space of about 40 yards of bank.

An experienced river fisherman, Tindol felt that the spots would be just fine. He said that given the amount of fish that use that bank (which is in the canal leading from Bouldin dam to the Alabama River) it should hold up well and replenish. For DeFoe’s sake, I hope Tindol’s right: DeFoe may need it to fend off a hard-charging Evers tomorrow.
-David Hunter Jones

3:10 p.m.

I hear it is raining around Montgomery. It would sure be nice if you could send some of that down here. There is a little wind and clouds in the distance, but it just goes to show how different and expansive this river system is.

According to the spectator boats that watched Evers catch the 12 pounds, the fishing has been slow for the last few hours. After moving a short distance, very near the area KVD won here last year, Evers cranks up and runs up river a bit.

I’ve talked about it in earlier tournaments, but I love watching Evers in run-and-gun mode. It’s a pain to follow, but he nimbly steps to the front deck of his boat and drops the trolling motor before the end is even down off pad. Quite a sight to see if you have never witnessed it before.

Speaking of running, we are on the move again.

-Rob Russow

2:56 p.m.

We are basically in the last hour and Evers and Ashley are hop, skip and jumping their way back up river. Swindel is fishing close and DeFoe is off the grid at the moment.

We still don’t know of any catches. Without BASSTrakk, things seem really slow, but we have to believe that there is some action taking place.

The neat thing about this format is that no one can ever really rest on their laurels. Yesterday’s matches were so close that even those with good stringers early could never feel safe. DeFoe has to be thinking about how Swindle pulled a rabbit from his hat yesterday and bested Scroggins by 1 ounce, all of that in the last hour and a half to two hours of the event.

Likewise, Swindle is either making it happen again, or hoping a comeback will soon start falling in place.

As for us, we are just waiting, like you, for any little clue to anything taking place on the water.

— Steve Bowman

2:35 p.m.

We don’t know exactly what is taking place on the water at this moment. But exactly 24 hours ago, this was when Gerald Swindle was putting together the majority of his catches that produced a 1 ounce win over Terry Scroggins. He will have to be doing that again if he wants to catch Ott DeFoe.

Meanwhile, Evers had a good lead on Casey Ashley. Ashley struggled yesterday by this time of the day. But since his morning started off so slow, he’s had totally scrap that plan and he’s more or less been practicing all day. It’s still more than feasible that he could catch the type weight in the next hour and a half that he needs to catch Evers.

These last two hours were no where near the slowest hours of yesterday, so we have our fingers crossed that those two who are behind at the moment are catching them.

We aren’t rooting for or against anyone, just hoping that these match ups will produce the close finishes we saw yesterday.

— Steve Bowman

2:16 p.m.

While Swindle and three others fish, the storm brews. Wind, rain, thunder and more lightning than J.O. and I care to see is in the very near distance and almost certain to make it’s presence better known before we get off the water.

Swindle continues to work his drop shot around the discharge pipe … to no avail. We’re about to move — probably back to the takeoff point — if the weather doesn’t get us!

–Ken Duke

2:13 p.m.

Swindle doesn’t know what his competition, Ott DeFoe, has, but he’s beating that DeFoe has him beat right now. He knows he’s got to do something big in the last hour or so to have any chance of winning. Swindle shows now signs of nerves or desperation, but every so often he makes a comment that tells you he realizes he’s behind here today. He’s going to fight it out right down to the wire and end his day at the check in point.

— Ken Duke

2:08 p.m.

Swindle’s pulling out of Jackson Lake and heading back to the pipe for a few more casts. Right away he’s into a fish, but it’s too small. He wants to get back to the takeoff area with an hour or to spare and see if he can catch some of the fish he found schooling there earlier. He’s hoping that the weather change will have them biting.

— Ken Duke

2:05 p.m.

Ott’s left his main holes and is moving back out toward the point where he says the fish there can be caught. The rain’s coming down now, with lightning everywhere. After he hits this point, DeFoe is
going to head to the Tallapoosa.

“I bet I can catch one there” he said.
–David Hunter Jones

1:59 p.m.

Back in Jackson Lake there’s a plethora of stumps and standing timber. Swindle’s working his way in throwing a shallow-running crankbait, but there are no takers. The rain’s stopped — for the moment anyway– but it’s threatening in the distance and there are some ominous clouds between us and the ramp.

— Ken Duke

1:49 p.m.

This is a reminder that BASSTrakk will be going dark soon, and no new updates will be made to that in the final two hours of the event.

We will continue blogging, but information on specific weights and fish caught won’t be included.


1:47 p.m.

DeFoe just caught another one, but it wasn’t of any help. He caught it on the Fluke on his main spot. It’s not looking like he’s going to move any time soon since he’s visited most everything he did yesterday and it’s a bit late to start practicing again. Clouds are still building, with lightning moving in the area.
–David Hunter Jones

1:43 p.m.

Five more minutes up the river, Swindle has eased into Jackson Lake where he’s flipping’ and pitching shoreline cover with what looks like a small creature bait. The flipping’ stick seems like a good bet to make up the ground between Swindle and DeFoe, though neither knows where they stand right now. Before leaving the discharge area, Swindle commented, “He wouldn’t have to have much to beat me right now.”

— Ken Duke

1:33 p.m.

Ott made a move back to his honey holes. He hit the first one – which is the best – and it didn’t yield a fish. This is the first time that’s happened.

He’s now working the other side of the river (the other honey hole). There appears to be some weather moving in, we can hear rumbling back toward Montgomery and there are clouds building up.
As usual, my rain gear isn’t on hand.
–David Hunter Jones

1:31 p.m.

And then the rains came! It’s beyond damp out here. You’d think that with the wastewater pouring in and the rain pouring down, these bass would perk up, but it’s not happening. Swindle hasn’t had a bite or a catch since we last reported one. The situation around this discharge pipe would seem to be pretty good, but it’s just not paying off for the G-man. He’s ready to move. We’ll stay with him!

— Ken Duke

1:26 p.m.

Things have slowed considerably, but we expect it’s the calm before the storm. The last few hours of the day were the most exciting yesterday.

About the only action to this point is the few thunder showers that are blowing up. Swindle is more or less covered up by the ones shown on the map below. DeFoe may be getting some of that.

My guess is it’s a welcome relief from the heat, at least until the sun breaks out and brings the humidity.

1:09 p.m.

Evers has 12 pounds fishing shallow on the lower end. looks like its shaping up to be a battle of extreme north end versus extreme south end.

— Rob Russow

1:04 p.m.

BASSTrakk update:

Angler Fish Total
Ott Defoe 5 10-00
Gerald Swindle 5 6-02
Edwin Evers 5 12-00
Casey Ashley 4 5-04

— Hank Weldon

1:01 p.m.

Swindle has five! A stocky but short bass fell to his drop shot rig just moments ago. It’ll help, but he needs a couple of kickers if he’s going to catch Ott DeFoe. The rain’s coming, but the G-man is hunkered down on this spot. It looks like he’ll win it or lose it in this area.

— Ken Duke

12:59 p.m.

After a 30-minute ride, we find Edwin Evers doing some running and gunning on the main river. It’s hot right here, barely any wind, and we seemed to have outran the clouds down to the southern portion of the river.

Evers hit two areas in about 10 minutes, just making a few casts and then leaving. He’s got about four boats following him, which isn’t too bad for a weekend. Boat traffic on the river is high. There may have been a tournament today, or a lot of recreational anglers, but that is nothing compared to the pleasure boaters. We passed a pod of them camped out in the middle of the river. I wish I could jump in and cool off like they did.

The next stop for Evers is a backwater with stumps and he pitches to the visible cover. One short fish is all he can show for his efforts. Yesterday, he caught between 25 and 30 keeper bass, bit today has been much slower. He’s up on Casey Ashley, but not by much. Unlike Ashley, Evers told me he has been on an afternoon bite as well, so he might be the favorite in this matchup right now.

-Rob Russow


12:48 p.m.
Check out Dave Mercer’s Live Video update at 1 p.m., when he will have a very special guest, Bill Dance.
Dance will be out on a private lake near Montgomery on Sunday fishing with Jerry McKinnis as they compete in the Bassmaster Legends event. Other teams are Guy Eaker and Ken Cook, Bobby Murray and Guido Hibdon, and Rick Clunn and Tommy Martin.


12:40 p.m.

It was just about this time yesterday when Swindle started his rally. And I can remember thinking up to that point that Scroggins was sinking him. He has 13 to 13 pounds at that points, and Swindle caught him.

It could happen again.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to get in touch with Rob Russow to get a report on Ashley and Evers. he’s swapping back and forth between them. And they are more or less dark. While Ott and Swindle have an interesting battle taking place, we’re sure the same is true for Ashley and Evers.

Hopefully we will hear something soon . We know, as yesterday showed us, that these races seem to get close in the afternoon.

— Steve Bowman

12:38 p.m.

DeFoe just made a big move. He was throwing a Spook along the bank of the Coosa when a 3 3/4-pounder crushed it. It went berserk, jumping and flailing wildly while DeFoe hollered “Get down! Get down!”

It led him around the boat, narrowly missing the trolling motor. DeFoe reckons he’s got just shy of 12 pounds now. He just shook off another one on the Spook. Swindle’s got a tough row to hoe.
–David Hunter Jones


12:29 p.m.

Swindle’s got between 4 and 5 pounds and is in real trouble if BASSTrakk is right. Ott DeFoe appears to have nearly 9 pounds, and that’s a substantial lead on a day like today. Swindle’s gutting it out at the crap pipe, but the going’s slow. Fortunately for him, there’s still plenty of time. Right now he needs another shot at that big fish that crashed the surface a little while back.

— Ken Duke

12:18 p.m.

If bass had a better sense of smell, they’d probably stay far away from this wastewater discharge area. But they don’t, so they’re right here and Swindle is here with them. This is where he culled just about every other bass he had yesterday and where he hopes to dramatically upgrade his four small keepers today.

— Ken Duke

12:16 p.m.

We just navigated the small rapids and found DeFoe a little ways up the Coosa. He hasn’t caught any keepers that we know of up here today. Though BASSTrakk has him at 8-15, DeFoe himself guesses that he’s got just shy of 10
–David Hunter Jones

12:14 p.m.

And one more makes four, but it’s small, too. As Swindle put it, That ain’t the one I’m huntin’.” Just then a much better fish hits on the surface very close to the pipe and Swindle picks up a crankbait and starts casting to it.

–Ken Duke

12:09 p.m.

BASSTrakk update:

Angler Fish Total
Ott Defoe 5 8-15
Gerald Swindle 3 4-12
Edwin Evers 3 6-12
Casey Ashley 2 3-00


Can Swindle put together a rally like he did yesterday?  Here is a look at his fish catches from yesterday afternoon:


1:01 – 2-04
1:17 – 2-12
1:22 – 1-12
1:26 – 3-04
1:48 – 1-12
2:02 – 2-08
— Hank Weldon


12:07 p.m.

Long time no blog! After a very long run from the lower end of the river, BASS photographer James Overstreet and I are back with Gerald Swindle at the sewage pipe. We got here just in time to see him boat another short bass and spectators in faster boats without engine issues tell us he’s boated a third small keeper. That probably gives him between three and four pounds — not nearly what he’s looking for, but now he’s back in his primary spot and he’s got it all to himself. Better yet, the wastewater treatment plant is releasing water from the pipe that’s creating current. It should really help his bite here.

— Ken Duke

12:00 p.m.

Swindle has added a keeper after getting to his sewage pipe. That’s his third keeper.

He’s at the pipe earlier than he was yesterday. This might be the start of a similar flurry as the day before.

Could start to get interesting.

— Steve Bowman

11:50 a.m.

The wind has mercifully picked up and offers a breath of relief from the brutally hot sun. It looks like some clouds are brewing north of us and could provide some rain as the afternoon hours approach. 40 percent chance according to my cameraboat driver. The clouds will be most welcome.

Ashley worked out from the dock with both moving bait and his drop bait from earlier without another fish. He set the hook a few more times with nothing to show for it.

Right before he was going to leave, a local sherriff drove by and got out to chat.

“You are doing what I always wished I could,” said the sherriff. “I just can’t seem to figure those things out.”

“There are days where I feel the same way,” said Ashley.

Today could wind up being one of those. He’s going to need a few more fish to catch Evers, who we are going to try and catch up with now.

-Rob Russow

11:37 a.m.

Swndle blew through Montgomery a few minutes ago, probably heading to the sewage pipe where he did so much damage yesterday.

He likely ran straight into a small storm. It’s not much but he’s likely getting wet. You can see that cell on the screen grab below.

11:25 a.m.

Looking around, I can see what makes this dock so good. Aside from the abundance of wood on the bottom, there is an eddy that forms as the current is flowing out around a point on the one side of the dock.

Also, there is a plentiful amout of bait skirting around the surface. A bass chased a small shad near where Ashley was. He picked up a crankbait for a bit, but was unable to generate any strikes.

A swing and a miss for Ashley, but things have slowed way down. He has not stopped fishing the dock except for one brief excursion to a beached pontoon boat where he caught a short fish earlier.

-Rob Russow

11:13 a.m.

We’re right where DeFoe caught his 4-pounder and he caught another one that is three pounds lighter. DeFoe’s culling ounces here, but at least he’s catching fish. No doubt he’ll be back to his honey holes if Bouldin generates current today. We’re still working up the Coosa with Ott pitching baits to cover along the way.

–David Hunter Jones

11:00 a.m.

Swing and a miss as Swindle fails to connect with a flipping’ bite. But for all his fans reading this blog and concerned that he only has one I. The box so far, it’s way too early to panic. Swindle is one of the most consistent in the business at bringing a limit to the scales. He’ll find a way to put 5 in the boat. And speaking of that, he’s just missed a couple of “rats” that wouldn”t keep if he caught them.

And now he has a keeper.

It’s not very big — about a pound — but Gerald Swindle has added another keeper to his livewell. That’s two! He’s ready to move again and says he’s off to the sewage pipe. Hopefully those other guys are gone! We’re off! It’s going to be a long run!.

— Ken Duke

10:58 a.m.

Ashley tried working farther back into the creek, but was denied by the falling water, which continues to get lower and lower. A call to the dam and we found out they have had 3 gates open since 6 and will keep them open until 12. So much for current later in the day. After noon expect the water level to start coming back up. Right now though, Ashley is hurting because of it.

“I caught two off that point back there and now I can’t even get to it,” Ashley said. “It looks like it has dropped a good foot now. I could just barely see it yesterday and now it’s sticking out of the water.”

It doesn’t seem to bother the bass on this magic dock. As he works his way out of the shallow area, he makes sure to hit it again and it pays off with his second keeper. This one is just slightly smaller than his first, a little less than 2 pounds.

He catches a few more short fish off the dock in short order. It seems to be holding a ton of fish.

“When you are fishing a creek like this, look for the last deep-water spot,” Ashley said. “This dock has all sorts of brush around it. The perfect place for the fish to hang around with the water dropping.”

He stops to rerig and his next cast results in his third keeper, a bass just over a pound. That puts him at three in the well for just over 5 pounds all of them off one dock. He’s probably caught six or seven fish there total.

-Rob Russow

10:54 a.m.

We followed DeFoe up the Coosa River to the abandoned lock site. We’re just under the bridge in Wetumpka and just below the small rapids that he worked through yesterday. We’re also approaching the spot where he caught the 4-pounder yesterday. He’s working along the lock now with a wacky worm.
–David Hunter Jones

10:53 a.m.

BASSTrakk update:

Angler Fish Total
Ott Defoe 5 8-15
Gerald Swindle 2 2-08
Edwin Evers 3 6-12
Casey Ashley 2 3-00

— Hank Weldon

10:40 a.m.

Made the trip upriver for Ott Defoe.  He’s working back and forth between strips of riprap bank on either side as we sit about 4 miles south of the Bouldin dam on Lake Jordan.  Ott says he’s fishing the way he likes to and he’s got a limit that weighs 9 pounds.  Zona in the boat says he’s throwing a fluke at fish that are eating big gizzard shad.  He immediately gets two good hookups and each will cull a fish .  Got to think he’s 10 or over now.

— Tommy Sanders

10:36 a.m.

Ashley has moved way back into this creek and we are following on the trolling motor. The water is a sweltering 87 degrees an only 4 feet at its deepest.

There is a dock at the point of a channel swing and Ashley stops to work it over carefully. He’s pitching a drop bait and covering every inch of the dock. Finally, he hooks up with a bass and swings it into the boat, but it won’t measure the 12-inch minimum.

On the other end of the dock there appears to be some brush. It looks like his lure is hung on some and as he shakes and snaps his line, a fish takes the bait. After a short fight, Ashley swings the 2-pounder into the boat. His first keeper breaks the ice and is a solid size. Now, he just needs to find a few more like it.

The next dock and Ashley catches another short. The action is picking up as the sun beats down.

-Rob Russow

10:33 a.m.

I love the blog jinx. All I have to do is mention Ashley and Swindle struggling with zeros and I can change the game. Not really.

But it does seem that way at times. As in this instance: Ashley and Swindle are now on the board.

Ashley has one for 1-8 and Swindle has one for 1-4. Now if I could make that happen by lamenting how poor I am.

— Steve Bowman

10:27 a.m.

At this time yesterday, all our anglers who are fishing today, except Ott DeFoe, had a limit.

DeFoe obviously built a good limit after this point 24 hours ago. But you can easily see how things have changed for these guys.

They all have to any number of things running through their mind. Swindle got better as the day went on, so he has to be living on that. But Ashley pretty much had the stringer he was going to weigh by this time. Evers, on the other hand, shold be feeling great. He had a limit at this time, but the quality of his fish today are much better.

He undoubtedly is riding high on a great start.

We’re still waiting for things to pick up.

But it’s good to watch how these guys adjust. A lot of tournament anglers start talking to themselves early when they haven’t caught anything. A zero at this time of the day, especially in tough conditions, normally just blows their mind.

You don’t see that much on the Elites. I’m expecting these guys to put something together and make it happen.

— Steve Bowman

10:25 a.m.

Ott’s just flat catching some fish. Since my last entry he landed two more fish, but neither would help him any. My boat driver Kyle Tindol frequents the river and says that DeFoe’s spots will only get better as Boulding dam begins generating some power.

The spot should replenish plenty, too, as many fish move up and down this structure along the bank. We’d both bet the farm that he’ll be back later as he looks to knock Swindle out.
–David Hunter Jones

10:15 a.m.

Ashley moved out to the main river for about 10 casts then continued down to a creek. The water is fairly shallow and cloudy back here. According to my camera boat driver, the creeks on this section of the river are pretty trashy.

Continuing to cover water quickly, Ashley boats a small fish, but after a measurement, it goes back into the river.

Ashley told me yesterday that from here on out, this is another practice day. He fished the only spot that had any fish first thing this morning and now it’s a scramble. He did fish this creek yesterday, but I’m guessing he’ll continue running and gunning.

While Evers may have the lead, don’t count Ashley out. The young angler from South Carolina has been having a great year and can adjust with the best of them.

-Rob Russow

10:10 a.m.

Swindle just picked up another short fish on a drop shot. It’s his fourth or so short fish if the day, but he still has nothing in the livewell.

— Ken Duke


Evers has also added another keeper to his total. He now has three edging him close to the 7-pound total.

Two more good fish and Ashley will need a little magic to catch him.

— Steve Bowman

10:06 a.m.

Another run and Swindle is even further downriver. I know he caught some fish down here yesterday, but thought he culled them all upriver yesterday. I’m a little surprised that he’s spending so much time down here, but it appears his gameplan changed when he found those local anglers sitting practically on top of the sewage pipe.

— Ken Duke

10:02 a.m.

Swindle must be wondering if those guys fishing the sewage pipe have been catching any more of the bass he was counting on. He just said, “Those old boys are getting hot. They’ll be heading in soon.”

— Ken Duke

9:49 a.m.

The G-man has left the backwater and moved to the mouth of Swift Creek where he’s drop shotting in about 15-18 feet of water. He caught one, too, but it was short and he threw it back. It’s got to be good to swing and connect with one, but you know Swindle wants to get on the board with a solid keeper.

— Ken Duke

9:57 a.m.

Swindle’s at his best when things are tough and everyone’s struggling. He invariably finds a way to piece something together and come in with a good limit that advances him to the next round. The problem today is that he’s paired against the one other angler in the field who’s nit struggling — Ott DeFoe. Yesterday DeFoe told me he saw several good bass cruising the banks of the area he’s fishing. If he can catch them, he’ll be tough to beat.

— Ken Duke

9:55 a.m.

Mark Zona has climbed aboard DeFoe’s boat and is shooting BASSCam interviews as we speak. He’s chatting about Defoe’s day, yesterday’s big fish as well as Ott’s baits. Check ’em out later (they may not upload quite yet; cell service is very spotty up here).

There have been fish chasing shad all around us for the past few minutes, and the commotion got DeFoe’s attention. He kicked his Minn Kota on high and headed to the activity with a Fluke in hand. He’s back to his best spot at the moment, skipping and jumping his Fluke. However, they may be stripers; he played a big one several minutes ago and let it off at
the boat. He just hooked up and boated a 1-pound keeper (it might be 1 1/4). However, it will cull.
–David Hunter Jones

9:51 a.m.

Call me an optimist, but I think these guys are going to end up catching them a whole lot better than it appears.

Think about it like this, the anglers return to the spots where they caught them shallow yesterday and it’s just not happening. The water has dropped and the fish just aren’t up there in the skinny water.

These guys are the best in the world at making adjustments and on a river system like this, everything can change overnight.

Look out. Later this afternoon, when the current gets right on the main river, a few of these guys will figure it out. Ott’s lead over the G-Man may look huge, but the fish live in this river to change that in a hurry.

Edwin Evers told me yesterday that he’s fishing shallow in the morning and then main river when the current flows. Main river didn’t work yesterday, but conditions are getting right for it to be a factor today.

Ashley is making a move and we are going to follow for now, but I plan on being on Evers when the water starts moving.

-Rob Russow

9:42 a.m.

BASSTrakk update:

Angler Fish Total
Ott Defoe 5 8-07
Gerald Swindle 0 0-00
Edwin Evers 2 5-08
Casey Ashley 0 0-00

— Hank Weldon

9:32 a.m.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind here’s an image of Ott DeFoe catching his best fish of the day.

– photo by Seigo Siato

9:30 a.m.

Swindle’s backwater is full of stumps and shoreline vegetation. It’s also very shallow. We’re no more than 50 yards from the 2004 Angler of the Year, and our depthfinder says 2.6 feet. Now he’s pitching a stickworm around some wood cover and just missed a fish.

— Ken Duke

9:29 a.m.

Edwin Evers BASSTrakk just got into service for a few minutes or he’s just hit a hot stretch.

Either way, he’s catching the right kind of bass. He has two _ 2-4 and a 3-4 _ that give him 5 1/2 pounds. That’s a super average for a day that seems much tougher.

It also puts him way ahead of Ashley, who seems to be struggling in Cooter’s Pond.

— Steve Bowman

9:26 a.m.

Defoe is still working the same stretch of river, but took a break as he rerigged his spinning outfit. Boat traffic has picked up, with observers idling around, and one boat came from the dam and idled right over his best spot. He’s back over working his best spot, and just hooked up again. It’s a small one but it’ll cull his other mini-keeper he caught this morning. Give him another 1/4 pound.
–David Hunter Jones

9:25 a.m.

When Swindle left the takeoff area, he headed downriver faster than we could follow. We just caught up to him not too many miles from the dam that marks the southermost end of this fishery. He’s working a Chatterbait-type lure around some extremely shallow and thick vegetation, and he still doesn’t have a bass.

–Ken Duke

9:20 a.m.

Here’s a look at the Alabama River and  the locations where our Final Four are fishing at the moment.

Alabama River

Gerald Swindle

Edwin Evers

Casey Ashley

Ott DeFoe

9:17 a.m.

Finally, we are on the water and headed south to cover the two anglers down there: Casey Ashley and Edwin Evers. Ashley is in a backwater and we get stuck almost immediately upon entering it. After a little trolling motoring, we are free and across the way, Ashley is running closer to us. How convenient.

Anyway, the critical thing today is that the fishing is slow. Even tougher than yesterday. My guess is Ashley would take another 8 pounds and be happy. Right now, the early bite disappeared for everyone on every section of the river and left nothing but the brutal heat. Only a little after 9 and I’m already sweating and starting to feel its effect.

Ashley has moved around quite a bit in the area that produced for him yesterday, but it just isn’t happening.

Part of that may be because the water is dropping. It looks like it is back down to where it was at the end of practice. Yesterday was good for the shallow bite, maybe the falling water will turn on the current bite at the end of the day.

If that happens, watch out for Edwin Evers. He’s down south waiting for it to happen.

-Rob Russow

9:15 a.m.

About 20 minutes ago, as Casey Ashley approached the mouth of Crescent Lake, the little oxbow in the back end of Cooter’s Pond, I noticed the water had suddenly gotten very muddy. The long-awaited current has begun. Ashley switched to a shad colored crankbait in hopes of finding bass chasing shad in the moving water, but he hasn’t had a bump. I really expected the fish to turn on when the water started moving, but all he has to show for it is another small bass that wouldn’t quite stretch to 12 inches. He did measure it, though.

The fish hit in a tiny, rocky cut where water was spilling out of the oxbow. If the big bass in here had been reading Bassmaster Magazine, they would know that’s a textbook spot to wait in ambush for shad and other bait. With current moving, I imagine the guys on the main river are having a lot better success than Ashley is in this backwater.

Mark Zona has climbed into the boat with Ashley, so you can expect to see some BassCam video interviews with Casey shortly.

Another spectator has joined the growing posse following Ashley, Scap Cicero, an old friend from nearby Wetumpka. Scap is an expatriate of Zimbabwe and the inventor of the Transducer Shield as well as other boating accessories. He pointed to the spot Casey was fishing at the time and signaled that the young angler is in an excellent spot to catch something. Again, the fish just haven’t gotten the memo.
— Dave Precht

9:07 a.m.

If this were a football game then the high-powered offense of Ott DeFoe would make you feel like he’s going to blow this thing away.

He always seems to go against the flow, trying his best to get away from everyone else and just does his thing, which normally means catching fish in a big way.

He kind of reminds me of Edwin Evers in that regard. We have Evers with a zero, but he’s made one of those long downriver runs and he’s pretty much out of sight. It wouldn’t surprising for him to have a few fish and the BASSTrakk just be out of service. It won’t be long until Rob Russow gets a set of eyes on him.

We do know that Swindle and Ashley are not having the kind of day they had yesterday.

Ashley jumped out to the early lead yesterday and finished the day with the lightest limit of those advancing.

Sanders has told us that he is losing water in Cooter’s Pond, and he’s related to us that he wasn’t planning on sticking there if the fish weren’t biting.

That sets up a scenario where he and Swindle, maybe Evers, have to punt and come up with a completely new game plan sometime today. Watching that develop is always interesting. Often it works well for these guys, which is why they are there. But it always comes with some excitement.

— Steve Bowman

9:04 a.m.

DeFoe just boated another keeper, which he traded for one of the small keepers that he caught this morning. He’s now throwing a soft jerkbait on spinning tackle with a fluorocarbon leader. He’s alternating between that and a deep-diving crankbait.
–David Hunter Jones

8:50 a.m.

We take a right into Cooters Pond and Zona jumps in with Casey Ashley.  He’s right under the cart bridge and we can see the water pulling out, ripping around a snag in the ditch.  It’s the wrong kind of current, falling water and it’s Caseys main problem.

— Tommy Sanders

8:48 a.m.

After making a move upriver, Ott just landed a 2-pounder from the same spot that he caught three keepers in four casts yesterday. He just hooked another bass, making him 2 for 2. This ones big as he’s playing it under the boat. It jumped, flipped and bulldogged him under the boat.

After a few words of encouragement (“Get in here! Get in here!”) he hoisted it aboard. He’s now got 4 fish for 6 1/2. He just hooked up again, which makes him go 3-for-3 this time! He’s now got his limit weighing 8ish pounds, perhaps 8 1/4. Excitement runs high among Ott’s followers, cheering each time he hooks up.
–David Hunter Jones

8:44 a.m.

Ott DeFoe just boated a 3-pounder, so we should be hearing from David Jones soon on that.

Meanwhile, he’s jumped out to a huge lead with four fish that wegh 6 pounds and change. I say “huge” because I feel like I’m at Pittsburgh during the Classic KVD won on the Ohio River.

Every fish was big in that event. It’s that way today and will continue that way through tomorrow.

Every cast, every fish has the potential to be “the” one that moves you ahead in this game.

DeFoe had that moment yesterday with a 4-pound class spot that proved to be the difference over his match with Iaconelli.

Against Swindle today, he may need that kind of bite more than once. I’ll remind everyone that Swindle put on a late-afternoon flurry that brought him from the bottom of the standings and over took Scrggins to move into today’s round.

— Steve Bowman

8:41 a.m.

Casey Ashley has worked his way almost to the main river channel and his livewell is still empty. Something worth seeing around here are all the huge paddlefish, prehistoric looking fish that leap completely out of the water. Just now, one about 3 1/2 feet long jumped within 5 feet of my boat, spraying water on my deck. Ashley turned around and warned, “Be careful one of ’em doesn’t jump in the boat with you.” They remind me of the bighead carp in the Midwest that jump out of the water when you run an outboard near them. Except these fish would really hurt you if they leaped out of the water in front of a moving boat.

Ashley is still relying mostly on the buzzbait, even though it hasn’t produced for him so far. I’ve been chatting with local bass guide Chad Miller, who’s driving the camera boat assigned to Ashley, and he’s a big fan of buzzbaits on these waters. “If you do get a bite on one this time of year, it’s likely going to be a good one,” he suggested. I know Ashley is aware of that, too. He obviously knows it will take more than 1 1/2 pounders to put him ahead of Edwin Evers today.

This lake has the potential, he told me at the gas station where he filled his tanks this morning. “There are some 3-pounders in there,” he said. “I’d take five of them today, wouldn’t you?” Of course. No one has weighed a sack much heavier than 12 pounds so far, and besides, I’d be happy with five 3s whether I’m in a tournament or not.

— Dave Precht

8:37 a.m.

Swindle and his entourage of 20 boats bob around the diesel “steamboat” at the downtown Montgomery landing .  85 degree water and not a puff of air as he casts his worm and other selections, looking for that first keeper.  Nothing at all so he’s leaving.

— Tommy Sanders

Swindle’s put down the stickworm in favor of a spinning rod and dropshot rig. He talks while he fishes, spelling out his plans for the day — fish here a little while longer then go flip up about 9 pounds before going back to the sewage pipe.

— Ken Duke

8:35 a.m.

Fishing today seems to be way tougher than yesterday.  We have only two keepers to report. And both of those go to Ott Defoe. I’m not sure what the reasons are as to why they are not biting.  Yesterday there was still a fog that was hovering about 100 feet above the river creating low light conditions.  That could have boosted the bite.  There is also the possiblity that these anglers put too big of a hurting on their fish.  Regardless, we are not seeing the same numbers as we did yesterday.
Here is a look at what our four anglers had at this point 24 hours ago.

Casey Ashley
Day One:
7:43 – 2-00
7:52 – 1-00
8:01 – 1-04
8:16 – 1-02
8:32 – 1-00
Day Two:
8:30 – 0-00

Edwin Evers
Day One:
8:02 – 2-00
8:15 – 2-04
8:29 – 1-00
Day Two:
8:30 – 0-00

Gerald Swindle
Day One:
7:54 – 1-04
8:22 – 1-04
8:24 – 1-04
8:29 – 1-00
8:32 – 1-00
8:37 – 1-04
Day Two:
8:30 – 0-00

Ott Defoe
Day One:
7:38 – 1-00
8:02 – 1-00
8:25 – 4-00
Day Two:
8:15 – 1-00
8:25 – 1-00


— Hank Weldon

8:29 a.m.

Weary of sharing water at the sewage discharge pipe, Swindle’s back downriver at the takeoff area behind the amphitheater that was the site of postseason weigh-ins the past two years. He’s casting what appears to be a weightless stickworm around the riverboat here and slowly lifting and dropping it. If he’s caught anything, it happened before we were able to catch up to him. Yesterday he caught several bass here, including a couple that helped him to cull up. He needed every ounce to advance past his friend, Terry Scroggins, and will no doubt take everything he can get again today as he tries to eliminate Ott DeFoe. The two anglers in this bracket were the best two on the water yesterday.

— Ken Duke

8:20 a.m.

Defoe is in a backwater throwing a buzzbait and has caught three fish, one of which kept. We guess it’s right at a pound. The whole area is a shallow, muddy flat. He’s picked up flipping stick and is working around shallow, submerged brush.
–David Hunter Jones

8:16 a.m.

We’re are semi-surprised at the lack of action taking place on the water. After all we did cut our field in half. We’re sure Evers is just getting close to where he wants to be.

The other three have been settled in for a few minutes and with the exception of Swindle’s company it’s been a fairly light morning.

By this time yesterday, several of the anglers were on the scoreboard. Swindle was working on a limit, as was Ashley. DeFoe had caught one on the first cast.

The lack fo catches today could be an omen of things to come. But we will see. We also watched as most of these guys caught the bulk of their weight later in the day.

As I type that, DeFoe catches the first keeper of the day. It scores around 1-pound.

— Steve Bowman

8:08 a.m.

I’ll be following Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., this morning, as I did yesterday. I watched him catch four keeper bass along this short stretch of bank in Cooter’s Pond yesterday, but it’s not so hot this morning. He’s been throwing a white buzzbait most of the time, but just a moment ago switched to a jig, which he’s pitching and occasionally swimming. Ashley ducked into a small canal briefly, catching a non-keeper on the buzzer. He had 7-14 to bump Skeet Reese out of competition yesterday, and he probably figures he’ll have to better that mark against Edwin Evers today.

Casey said he would fish Cooter’s Pond for a while this morning, and if nothing was going on, he would start targeting spots elsewhere along the river. I asked if he had a backup hole to go to, and he shook his head, smiled, and said, “No.”

— Dave Precht

8:05 a.m.

The boat that Swindle is dealing with couldn’t be more directly on top of the steady bubble of water coming from the discharge pipe and if you watched the video of his fish catches from the weighin show yesterday you know that little spot is the juice as they say. Now a guy and a gal in a 16 ft aluminum boat are fishing their way up to Swindles spot as well.

— Tommy Sanders


“Interesting to say the least,” is all Swindle offers to comment in the situation. He certainly couldn’t have expected this when he made the run up here. “Alabama welcoming committee,” Swindle says, and the crowd laughs.

— Ken Duke

8:01 a.m.

Swindle’s got company up the river. He’s certainly got the largest flotilla of the day — more than a dozen spectator boats — but he’s also sharing the water with a couple of anglers whose boat is practically right on top of the discharge area. They’re a very short pitch from the pipe itself and doubtless sitting on top of some of the bass Swindle hopes to catch. They’re casting weightless stickworms to the spot and have already swung and missed several times. Just now, one of them set the hook and brought in a small bass. From here, it looked just short of 12 inches, but it went into the cooler nonetheless. These guys can practically hit the pipe with their rod tips, but are offering Swindle little room to fish.

— Ken Duke

7:59 a.m.

At this moment (7:45 a.m.), I’m sure Edwin Evers is still running. I spoke to him at the Powder Magazine ramp this morning as he launched his boat, and he told me he’d be running all the way downriver, to near Jones Bluff Dam. “I’m going all the way down and work my way up,” he said, “the opposite of yesterday.” He had a good flurry of activity yesterday when the hydropower dam was in operation and created some current. “I caught five in five minutes and lost two.”
The two that got away seemed to him to be good-sized ones. He knows that bigger fish live there. “I lost them in a tree my brother-in-law (Terry Butcher of Oklahoma) fished last year in the postseason,” he added. “He caught a 3 1/2 and a 5 in that same tree.”
Like the others in Round Two of the All Star finals, Evers said he was happy to survive the cut. You hear the word, “survive,” a lot in talking to the anglers, which makes sense in a sudden death, elimination format like this. Evers is hoping he survives in his head-to-head battle with Casey Ashley.
— Dave Precht

7:53 a.m.

Well upriver from our takeoff point are Ott DeFoe and Gerald Swindle — Swindle just a half mile or so beyond DeFoe. We’re watching the G-man work a shakey head or drop shot around what’s known locally as the “crap pipe” — a waste discharge outlet.

— Ken Duke

7:51 a.m.

We picked up Ott Defoe again, and he’s back where he started yesterday. He caught a fish on his first cast yesterday, but had no such luck today. He’s throwing a crankbait once again, letting it mix and mingle among the debris down there. He just picked up and is moving up the river toward the Coosa.
–David Hunter Jones

7:50 a.m.

If anything the action today will be matches that basically feature upriver and downriver anglers. Swindle and DeFoe did their damage on Day One upriver. Both will be there today. Ashley and Evers stayed downriver, and they will be there as well, almost ensuring that on the final day, this event will be a referendum on which end of the river will produce the winner.

In year’s past that has always been downriver. But on Day One, upriver showed out a little.

One other thing to note: All the anglers, especially Swindle and Ashley, focused on a couple of areas that are local hot spots. They could see added pressure by a local tournament that took off at least an hour and half before these Elite anglers.

Sanders has already reported that Swindle had a couple on his productive spot.

That’s part of the game, especially in an area where there are tournaments on every weekend.

–Steve Bowman

7:46 a.m.

We arrive just ahead of Swindle and there’s a boat with two guys fishing right exactly on top of his spot.  Swindle not pleased but is restrained–all he says is “$100,000 guys.”.

He seems to be saying it to himself as to them.   He catches a short fish at 7:45.

— Tommy Sanders

7:45 a.m.

In what has to be one of the fastest take offs in Elite Series history, our four anglers are on their way.

Like yesterday, this is basically two tournaments rolled into one: Gerald Swindle versus Ott DeFoe and Casey Ashley versus Edwin Evers.

If you were to look at the weights from a day ago, it would appear as if the first match up is going to be mighty close, while on the second, Ashley may have an edge over Evers. He caught more than 3 pounds on Day One. But we all know better.

In a mano-a-mano contest, what you did yesterday has very little bearing on what you will do in the present.

We have five boats for most of the day, following these guys on the river, and one other on a private lake following the five Elite anglers who are taking a group of Wounded Warriors fishing for the day.

We should be getting reports for all of them. And if the matches are any where as close as they were on Day One, it promises to be a day of fireworks.

One thing to keep in mind, today will be a little different for this blog.

To keep things interesting, BASSTrakk will be going away at 2 p.m. today. While we will continue to blog, we won’t have the information that we normally do when it comes to the action of those last two hours.

We will all have to watch the weigh-in to see if there were any last-minute heroics.

But we have a lot of time until then to see how this thing plays out.

— Steve Bowman

7:15 a.m. CT

The anglers are in position. We’re almost ready to get the head-to-head matches under way in the  Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship on the Alabama River.

On the water coverage begins now with this Live Blog, BASSTrakk, BASSCam videos and photos. Dave Mercer’s Live Video updates will air at 10 a.m.and 1 p.m. CT each day. Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona will host Hooked Up! shows at 5 p.m. each day leading into the live weigh-ins.