Daily Limit: St. Clair Day 1

James Elam did himself a solid, while guys like Brent Chapman and Ott Defoe are feeling the woe.

Day 1 of the Plano Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair saw anglers bob up and down, on the water and in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings.

Elam, who began the day a point inside the Top 50 cutline to advance to the AOY championship even in September, must be feeling comfortable after jumping up to 28th. Yet despite having the second biggest bag of the day, he knows a different fate might await him on Day 2.

“I have a tendency to stress out about how well I manage a bite,” Elam told Thomas Allen for this story. “I’d like to think I perform well under this kind of pressure, but I’m going to have to prove that tomorrow.”

There will be a lot of proving Friday, as well as pressure, especially for anglers like Chapman and Defoe. Both plummeted out of coveted territory Thursday.

Chapman, who stands 92nd with 11-9, dropped from 43rd in points to 60th, and he will need some heroics Friday to climb inside the cut and advance to Sturgeon Bay.

Defoe might be feeling some pressure, too. He was well inside the Classic cut at 26th, but a three-fish day and 103rd standing knocked him back to 44th in points, a couple spots back of where Classic berths will end.

The only saving grace is they have another day.

On the title front, no one threw any fear into Aaron Martens and his hopes for a third Toyota Angler of the Year title. Martens led Justin Lucas by 69 before the day but now holds a 63-point margin over Dean Rojas.

Martens can sew up the crown by leaving St. Clair with a 50-point lead, and the question has been if he’d just stay around the launch, catch a limit and take whatever points. Naw, that's not Aaron.

 “I took a risk and traveled to Huron today,” Martens said. “I’m still not sure if I’ll go back tomorrow or if I’ll play it safe and stay closer to the ramp. I know I can catch a pretty good bag out of St. Clair, but I probably won’t make a decision until tomorrow morning.”  

Martens stands to earn the lion’s share of the $1 million AOY money. After the winner’s $100,000 share, second receives $55,000 and the next four spots drop in $5,000 increments.

Jacob Powroznik is currently third, Lucas fourth and Edwin Evers and Skeet Reese supplanted Brent Erhler and Cliff Pirch in the top 6.

Expect similar jumbling Friday.

Two in the well

Ignorance is bliss, or so Brandon Palaniuk professes. The Idaho pro said he hasn’t looked at the AOY points since Guntersville.

“I haven’t seen them. I don’t know where I am at, and I don’t want to know,” he said at Thursday’s weigh-in.

That seems to be working just fine.

Palaniuk didn’t score a point at Sabine, finishing 101st with 3-2, then was 60th at Guntersville, a definite slow start. He shunned worrying about the standings ever since, and he’s climbed. He made the 50 cut at Sacramento (40th) and the Top 12 at Havasu (10th). After busting at BASSfest (59th), he took 19th and 20th, respectively, at St. Lawrence and Chesapeake.

Sorry for announcing this Brandon, but you started the day well inside the Classic cut at 22nd. Standing third after Day 1 really solidified your chances. You’re now 15th.

Hey, nobody tell him.

Russ Lane's practice catch shows why the Chippewa translation for muskie is 'ugly pike.'Three’s company

Brandon Card fights a muskie on Thursday. Say, those are long handled pliers.The Elite anglers were forewarned how to deal with muskies, the huge northern predator fish with needle teeth that live in all the tournament waterways this week.

Appears they needed it, too.

Muskie hunter Brian James Schram offered a six-step primer on Facebook on how to deal with the prehistoric fish that are everywhere here.

Tips include kill your retrieve when they follow your bait, carry long handled pliers and hook cutters, and “grab under the gill plate and hold tight to gain control of the fish. Do NOT put your thumb over the snout!!”

OK, OK.

Hope Brandon Card and Brett Hite listened were among those listening. Both had them at the end of their lines Thursday.

Card’s Marshal shot this picture (right) of him reeling one in.

The Marshal for Hite took video of muskie attacking a smallmouth Hite was reeling in .... twice.

Four on the floor

Gary Klein was correct when he posed this question on the weigh-in stage.

“Did you know that Rick Clunn and I have fished over 700 B.A.S.S. events?”

Well, actually you two have done way more than that. With Clunn competing in 413 tournaments and Klein 377, that’s actually just 10 shy of 800. They’ve also weighed in more than 22,141 pounds of bass.

If you guessed 62 Classics, you’d be right.

Since Klein began fishing with B.A.S.S. in 1979, he’s had eight wins, 30 Classic appearances, two AOYs and earned $2,065,311.

Clunn’s first B.A.S.S. tournament was in 1974. He’s won four of his 32 Classics, 14 titles overall, one AOY and earned $2,267,191.

Clunn and Klein, talk about two Bassmaster classics.

Jeff Kriet is greeted with quite a sunburst early Thursday morning.That’s a limit

Steve Bowman, newly inducted in the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, comes in with the Photo of the Day, showing a silhouetted Jeff Kriet throwing one of his first casts of the morning. The sun didn’t last long it was overcast much of the day.

And just to show those guys how to really get rid of a muskie, Bowman took a sequence of Edwin Evers, who grabbed his lure and plucked it away from this high-flyer. Check out the photo gallery.

Watch your fingers, Edwin.

Culling

  • Gerald Swindle disappointed himself Thursday. He caught the smallest limit of the day at 9-14 and put him in 99th. He fell to 39th in AOY points after starting the day in 24th. He might need counseling with the fishery. “I’m not in love with it right now. I’m thinking about calling my lawyer and getting a divorce.”
  • Swindle is a regular in the Overheard, the segment of funny, outrageous or poignant quotes from the anglers at weigh-in. It remains one of my favorite features on Bassmaster.com. Check it out here to see why.