Diamond Drive Live Blog Day Three

Day Three - Arkansas River

3:04 p.m.

The gates of the lock opened just a few minutes late, forcing Ish, Hackney, Reehm and Iaconelli to be a few minutes late.

Don't know how many, but it could cost Reehm the top 12. It won't cost Ish. The others will lose valuable Classic and AOY points.

That's it for the day. We're headed out to the weigh-in, which will begin in about 30 minutes.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

--Steve Bowman



2:52 p.m.

Here's the on the water gallery from Overstreet (click the photo):


2:52 p.m.

The anglers are in the lock on the upstream section and it is being dumped. Expectations are they will be out by 2:55 p.m.

They are six minutes from the check-in point once the gates open. Ish Monroe will be cutting it very close and will likely suffer a couple minutes in penalties.

If that's all he suffers he won't miss the cut. Reese looks to be good, but he's out of the cut at the moment.

Clark Reehm, though, maybe the unlucky one. He's in 12th and any penalty at all will knock him out of the cut.

--Steve Bowman


2:47 p.m.

The standings look like for the moment:

1. Denny Brauer 8-8 and 42-5

Still a big lead but we’re sure he won’t be happy about it

2. John Murray 10-9 and 33-12

Wondering if rumors of big fish are true

3. Aaron Martens 12-0 and 33-6

Stayed close and is making it happen

4. Ish Monroe 12-2 and 33-1

Wondering if he will make it thru lock in time

5. Jonathon VanDam 16-0 and 10-11

He brought it today, like his uncle normally does

6. Gerald Swindle 10-0 and 30-11

He’s rolling

7. Billy McCaghren 3-12 and 28-3

Made a big drop but maybe still alive

8. Timmy Horton 14-5 and 28-1

Doubled down and should be fishing tomorrow

9. Brent Chapman 8-3 and 27-15

Steady as always and will likely fish tomorrow

10. Kevin VanDam 2-0 and 27-11

What the? He’s hoping for tomorrow

11. Randy Howell 9-9 and 27-5

Another Little Rock Pool scratching and hoping

12. Clark Reehm 6-3 and 26-15

Stuck in the lock with his fingers crossed

-- Steve Bowman


2:24 p.m.

The barge is still in the lock and the clock is really ticking fast for some of these guys.

Behind the wall and the gun are guys like Ish Monroe. He's in 4th in the standings and really needs to stay in the neighborhood to make the Classic. He's certainly in the first flight today, so he will need to check in by 3:00 p.m. To get that done, the lock needs to clear really fast.


With 15 more minutes of breathign room is Skeet Reese. He's dropped to 14th now, but he's close to the 12 that he might be in the cut. He had that before locking up. If he misses the lock and the cut, he will be kicking himself for a long time. Others down there include Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby. They will both lose points that could help or hurt others.

-- Steve Bowman


2:05 p.m.

Just got off the phone with the lockmaster at David Terry Lock, the lock between Pool 5 and 6. He says he has about 27 boats stting in the lock and they should be on their way in the next 5 minutes.

Looks lke on the upper end several boats are gathering for the lock down. We even see Skeet Reese has locked up and is fishing where he started yesterday.

The problem is, much like yesterday, there is a double-barge in the lock right now. Lockmaster thinks he can get it cleared in 25 minutes, but those upstream will be cutting it close again.

--Steve Bowman


2:03 p.m.

Listening to anglers all week backstage here the theme has been the unpredictability of this place. Water levels, clarity, temps, even the basics of getting from one place to another have been the challenges specific to the Arkansas River this week. Not different from a lot of places---just more so.


With that in mind we saw Denny Brauer arrive at his spot, running late but ready to load up. Why wouldn’t he expect to---caught them great all week, in fact, all keepers. Then he proceeds to catch nothing basically in the first one third of his fishing time.


Things had changed. The bite was funny. The fish were moving around and though it was a small place there was very little time to figure out what they were doing. Very little time because barge traffic had extended an already lengthy travel time.


Add into the mix the sight of Jonathon Van Dam roping in about 15 pounds just a short distance away and you can see why this place can be just mean to a guy---put you off your feed. You might even just haul off and order Mark Zona off your boat. Which I understand he did.


--Tommy Sanders


1:43 p.m.

Here’s a teaser from photographer James Overstreet, who is working up the On the Water gallery right now.

“These fish catches with (Jonathon) VanDam are some of the best I’ve ever shot. The fight these fish put up is unbelievable.”

If you want a sample, we’ve updated the lead photo on the front of the site. Check it out.


1:37 p.m.

As suspected there hasn't been a lot of big moves and shakes during this period. Most of the guys are running to a lock or sitting in a lock. Some get to stop and hit a spot in between.


That's worked for Timmy Horton. He's upgraded a 1/2 pound waiitng for the lock and he's now in 8th place.


Ish Monroe, on the upper end, has upgraded a 1/2 pound and he's in 4th place.


So a few things are happening, but no wholesale changes. As to the tracking of the boats, we can see the Pine Bluff contingent sitting below the last lock, but they are not moving into yet. There is still plenty of time.


-- Steve Bowman


1:17 p.m.

Looking back on the fishing from today, I can't help but think back to what Kevin Short told me before the tournament started: "I would be shocked if the tournament is won in Pine Bluff."

After two days, we could have laughed at his prediction, with the top four anglers all camped two pools south, while Short himself barely made the cut. But Short told me to wait until the weekend, when it would be hard to continue catching consistent weights.

He predicted weekend tournament pressure would hurt the bite, but honestly, there weren't any of those to be found. There were a ton of spectator boats. I don't think boat pressure made as big of a difference as the wacky water levels. With the water higher than a day ago, maybe the fish spread out and were harder to pinpoint.

Honestly, I don't know that there is a really good reason for the way things turned out. I think you will see a lot of head scratching at the weigh-in today. A few good bags were caught, but where guys were catching plenty of short fish and keepers together, those number of bites dropped drastically.

The tournament still looks to be won in Pine Bluff, Brauer simply had too much of a lead to give it up without a total crumble, but who knows what will happen on the water tomorrow. The Arkansas River is anything but predictable.

-Rob Russow


1:06 p.m.

Skeet Reese just jumped into the top 12. After a complete bomb (not as bad as Jonathon VanDam) he made up for it on Day Two and slipped into the 50 cut.

Now it looks like he will threaten to make the final cut. He has a limit that weighs around 10 pounds, giving about 24-14 for the two-day total.

But he's made a complete comeback, which is good for him. Nice to have him back on track.

--Steve Bowman


12:50 p.m.

Be sure to check-out Dave Mercer's final update at 1 p.m. He will have Fred Roumbanis on with him, discussing this river, this event, the AOY race and the next event on Lake Wheeler.


12:47 p.m.

I know there was some concern about a barge keeping anglers from getting back to Pool 5, but I talked to a buddy of mine who is a spectator and he said they are all in the lock now getting ready to start filling 'er up.

That's good news, but they are not out of the woods yet. One more lock awaits between the group and check-in at the North Little Rock ramp.

-Rob Russow


12:45 p.m.

Here's the latest update


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Place Angler Fish Day Three Total
1 Denny Brauer 3 6-00 40-01
2 John Murray 4 10-09 33-12
3 Aaron Martens 5 12-00 33-06
4 Jonathan VanDam 5 16-00 31-10
5 Ish Monroe 5 10-08 31-07
6 Gerald Swindle 5 10-00 30-11
7 Billy McCaghren 2 3-12 28-03
8 Kevin VanDam 1 2-00 27-11
9 Timmy Horton 5 13-05 27-01
10 Keith Combs 3 5-00 24-10
11 Greg Vinsom 2 3-04 24-09
12 Takahiro Omori 1 2-01 24-07
13 Clark Rheem 2 3-03 23-15
14 Ben Parker 4 8-11 23-10
15 Randy Howell 3 5-13 23-09


12:34 p.m.

Ish Monroe has filled out his limit and has 10-8, which puts him in fifth place and JVD caught his fifth fish and should have somewhere around 16 pounds, which will put him in fourth place.

Those are the latest changes. We will have an update on the standings soon.

The first group of angler has locked out of Pool 7 and are now back in Little Rock, so the barge didn't cause them any problems. Still waiting to hear on the lock from Pine Bluff.


--Steve Bowman


12:32 p.m.

KVD again went without a bite from his primary area. With only one keeper in the livewell he will either need some last-minute heroics here or in one of the other pools.

Anglers have already started making their way in and we are heading back to work up these photo galleries. Today wasn't a cakewalk for us reporters or for the anglers. The only thing that saved it for me was a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts I left in the sun to get warm and toasty. It almost made me forget about the heat and the tough fishing.

The anglers didn't have such a treat and the empty livewells of many were a constant reminders. At least a few good bags were caught today, a reminder of a different sort - that the Arkansas River is not a kind opponent and consistency is the most difficult feat to accomplish.

Maybe Denny Brauer will still be leading the tournament and Kevin VanDam still on top of the AOY, but their respective victories don't look nearly as assured as they did one day ago.

-Rob Russow


12: 13 p.m.

We’ve talked about it plenty, but this tournament is huge in terms of points for both the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.


12:12 p.m.

Horton just put a bass in the boat - white bass. As his dry spell continues, he keeps bouncing around from top to top. As we headed to the first stop on Horton's milk run, we passed Greg Vinson, John Murray, Billy McCaghren Matt Reed and a slew of recreational boaters. Horton had to wave off a pleasure boat from of his hole as it idled not 40 yards from him. If he doesn't catch anything else today, he's done well.

McCaghren is heading back toward the main river. Chip Hawkins, our camera-boat driver, said It's a 15-minute motor to Lock 5, the first of two they need to go through before they get home.

As I write this, the whole gang has fired up and is heading toward lock 5. Swindle has just passed us, as well as Cliff Pace. Can't blame these guys for wanting to head back early after several anglers were locked out yesterday.

--David Hunter Jones


12:05 p.m.

A couple of things to consider and/or remember these last few hours.


The guys in Pine Bluff will soon be on the river and headed upstream. There was a rumored barge in that pool that morning and it could get in their way. No way of knowing yet if that will be the case.


There was a barge this morning in the downriver lock of the Little Rock Pool. If it continues upstream and through the pool it could cause problems for those anglers in Pool 7.


We've had three boats in the harbor following that contingent, when the anglers leave, they will be driving back. Reports will be at a premium. But we will continue to dig them out.


--Steve Bowman


11:57 a.m.

Jonathon VanDam idled by his uncle a little bit earlier on his way out from the back of the Pine Bluff Harbor. Word is he wants to make it back to the lock a little early. With a good bag, he probably doesn't want to take any chances. If anything happens, you don't want to be the last boat running back in. Plus, he'll have a few minutes to boat his last keeper near the dam.

They have about 30 minutes left before it is time to head for the lock.

-Rob Russow


Brauer catches his fourth fish--close but just does measure. He's in the 8-pound total range. He's leaving now.


-- Tommy Sanders


11:53 a.m.

Be sure to check out Dave Mercer's "live" update at Noon.


11:51 a.m.

Ish has to be at the lock by 1:45. Is he concerned about locking after
what happened yesterday?
"I can't worry about that. I haven't caught a keeper bass in Pool 6
yet. So, if I lock through early without 5 I am just hurting myself."
Ish is in the first flight.

-- James Hall


11:49 a.m.

This is a key part of the day. There is only 45 minutes left before the Pine Bliff contingent will have to start making it back.

We still have KVD with one fish, which would obviously drop him in the standings and lose some valuable AOY points. While he will be running Evers will be fishing. He's slipped to 24th, but that gives him points over what he had yesterday. Things could get a little tighter on that front if the next 45 minutes don't help KVD.

Denny has 6 pounds, which should keep him in the lead with a sizable lead.

--Steve Bowman


11:41 a.m.

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Place Angler Fish Day Three Total
1 Denny Brauer 3 6-00 40-01
2 John Murray 4 10-09 33-12
3 Aaron Martens 5 12-00 33-06
4 Gerald Swindle 5 10-00 30-11
5 Jonathan VanDam 4 14-00 29-10
6 Billy McCahren 2 3-12 28-03
7 Kevin VanDam 1 2-00 27-11
8 Timmy Horton 5 13-05 27-01
9 Ish Monroe 3 5-04 26-03
10 Keith Combs 3 5-00 24-10
11 Greg Vinsom 2 3-04 24-09
12 Takahiro Omori 1 2-01 24-07


11:34 a.m.


Brauer shows VanDam: Kevin VanDam says that years ago, Denny Brauer taught him something very, very important, something that VanDam is using in the Diamond Drive to try to beat Brauer.

How to flip? Nope. VanDam knew that. Brauer’s lesson was tactical.

“He’s one of the guys who, a long time ago, taught me the difference between fishing to do well and fishing to win — how and when to take chances. No one’s done that better over a career than he has.”

Brauer had more than 8 pounds and 6 ounces on VanDam going into Saturday’s round.

“I don’t expect him to stumble, but I’d like to be there if he does,” VanDam said.


--Deb Johnson


11:32 a.m.

Ish is a little concerned that there is no water movement in what has
been his best area. When he's caught fish here, water was flowing
through the jetty rocks at an impressive clip. Now, the area seems
stagnant. He's alternating between pitching a Beaver and twitching the
frog along the rocks.


--James Hall


After fishing five places in about 20 minutes, VanDam moved over to his one best place. Usually, he can fre the shad up with his Hydrowave and then snatch a couple of quick bass off the spot. He caught his best fish here Thursday and a few yesterday, but no bites when he stopped here earlier.

It's amazing how few places these guys will get to fish, especially with the shortened day. If they aren't biting, you don't have much time to adjust.

Unlike the last two days, I don't see any shad flicking on the surface. That doesn't bode well for his chances.

-Rob Russow


11:18 a.m.

We've had some technical difficulties with info getting sent to the Trakk and the blog, but I think we're up and running now. About an hour ago, Denny caught two quick keeers to get off the dole. As I was typing that he comes up on what Zona was pointing to as his key key spot and quickly boats his best so far--a three pounder, so now we have him with three fish six pounds plus total.

--Tommy Sanders


11:16 a.m.

Is there a time of day when Ish will not throw the frog?
"no! My best frog fish have been coming between 11 and 2. I don't get
many bites, but the ones I get are key," he said.

--James Hall


11:12 a.m.

We left McCaghren and picked up Tim Horton, who's got the biggest bag yet. He reckons he's got 13 or 14 pounds, his words. We've moved to the same flat that McCaghren was on, fishing the same brush piles. I guess there aren't any secrets in this flat. He's throwing what appears to be a Bomber Fat Free Shad, dragging it into the brush.

With 13-plus-pounds in the boat, Horton's out looking for a big bite or two. He's not staying at one spot for more than 10 minutes. He's now made a run over to the Clunn hole, the 100-yard stretch that Rick Clunn used to win the 1984 Bassmaster Classic. Unfortunately for Horton, Clunn snatched up all the fish 26 years ago.

-_David Hunter Jones


I don't have a temperature gauge handy, but it seems to be about 413
degrees on the Arkansas River right now. There is hardly a breath of
wind in the backwater bay Ish is fishing. He's gone back to the frog.

--James Hall


11:07 a.m.

Tommy Sanders reports in that JVD caught another 3-pounder. He adds that the grapevine of spectators has said that John Murray just caught a 5-pound class fish then took off.

Neither of those catches has showed up on BASSTrakk and we haven't verified yet. But the bite is working for some of these guys any way you look at it.

If Murray's big fish is true, that will put him in the lead. He's currently 5 ounces back at the moment.

--Steve Bowman


10:58 a.m.

Things are heating up in the Harbor. McCaghren now has two for about 4-pounds. That moves him up to 6th place at the moment. JVD now has four fish and 14 pounds, which puts him in 4th , but then he drops to 5th as Gerald Swindle now shows a limit for 10-pounds.

We know KVD has a 2-pound keeper, which will put him close.

Denny is still stuck on zero. John Murray has four fish for 10 pounds and is now in second. Aaron Martens is still n the Little Rock Pool with 12-pounds and is third.

Way up river, Ish Monroe has just caught his third keeper and is in the top 10.

Lots of catching going all of the sudden.

--Steve Bowman


10:53 a.m.

Finally, VanDam strikes with his first keeper of the day. It was only a 2-pounder but might be on the right track. He got the bite shortly after switching back to the crankbait and gave the cameraman a knowing look.

The water on the Arkansas River is often difficult to pin down, as it cycles up and down somewhat inconsistently. Yesterday the water was low, but coming up slowly. Clearly, those were good conditions for back in the Harbor.

Today, the water is high and slowly falling. I don't know if the high water scattered the fish and the low water sucked them out to the ledges, but today has been a world of difference from just 24 hours prior.

-Rob Russow


10:52 a.m.

Don't forget to watch Mercer's live update coming up at 11 a.m.


10:51 a.m.

Ish just made a move 10 to 12 miles upriver. He's now fishing inside a juetty off the main river channel. Appears to be flipping a beaver. He just set the hook and boated his third keeper ... a solid 3-pound largemouth. He just said we are now where he has caught his two best fish every day.

--James Hall


10:48 a.m.

Denny says that this spot has been the real big fish place---using only "bottom baits."
Celebrity sighting among the spectators: Dean Rojas

--Mark Zona


10:44 a.m.

Kevin Short mentioned something interesting at yesterday’s weigh-in that could come into play today or tomorrow.

Most of the complaining about flow and water level – of which there has been plenty – has come from anglers fishing north of the launch in Pools 7 and 8.

Those making the run to Pool 4 in Pine Bluff have been dealing with some fluctuation, but it’s been inches instead of feet.

But Short said that stuff works its way down river. In other words, the Corps is shifting the problem south, straight toward Brauer, VanDam and the rest of the leaders.

On Thursday, Short said Pool 8 was the most affected. On Friday, it was Pools 7 and 6, and at any point this weekend it could be 5 and 4 and the bite could disappear in Pine Bluff, depending on what the Corps feels it needs to do.

You add that to the lock/barge issue and guys fighting over spots, and it feels like this tournament is turning into more of a chess match every day. We’ve already lost a Rook.

-- Kyle Carter


10:42 a.m.

It has officially turned into a zoo in the back of the Pine Bluff Harbor.

VanDam and his 20 spectator boats just joined Brauer and company. KVD is casting off a long sloping island point. Less than two hours remain and VanDam has yet to boat anything but white bass.

His nephew, JVD, is in the distance as is rookie Brandon Palaniuk. The area is choked with boats including a few more competitors I can't identify.

This is amazing folks. For only the second time since I have been covering the Elite Series, I saw Kevin VanDam fishing while sitting down - pulling a Bill Dance, so to speak. I think he does it to slow himself down after putting the crankbait back up and it helps him seine the cover with the tough conditions.

Still no bites.

-Rob Russow


Denny Brauer has witnessed the JVD flurry and is still waiting on his first bite. He idles 200 yds. to the north and resumes with the jig . Only two spectator boats follow--the rest want action and that is what JVD is bringing right now.
Finally a bite for Denny--unfortunately it's his first short fish of the tournament from this area.

--Tommy Sanders


10:35 a.m.

Jonathon VanDam has obviously got onto something. He's making big moves this morning and could slip into the top 12 by day's end. He sits in fifth now, and if all things stay the same he could be there.

If he does that, it's a good thing to remember that he actually zeroed on Day One. Typically you can't do that and salvage quite the way he has. But that's what the Arkansas River can do for you. That's what it is known for and has done to every local at one time or another, like Scott Rook this week.

With VanDam and Denny at zero, that famous Arkansas River kick to groin could gain even more fame if they don't capture one or more soon.

--Steve Bowman


10:31 a.m.

Billy McCaghren has set the hook three times and boated two short fish. He's lobbing a big worm to brushpiles, many of which Hawkins' friend has sunk. VanDam left the area a while ago and headed around a bend with a 1/2-mile long string of boats behind him. He may be doing some crowd control today.
--David Hunter Jones


10:25 a.m.

While KVD, McCaghren and Denny continue to struggle, JVD and Timmy Horton keep getting hotter. They've each added 3-pound class to their bags. Putting Horton in 4th place and JVD is fifth, one spot above his famous uncle, Kevin VanDam.

Pretty dramatic stuff, huh.

--Steve Bowman


10:22 a.m.

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Place Angler Fish Day Three Total
1 Denny Brauer 0 0-00 34-01
2 Aaron Martens 5 12-00 33-06
3 John Murray 3 6-01 29-04
4 Kevin Vandam 0 0-00 25-11
5 Timmy Horton 4 11-00 24-12
6 Greg Vinson 2 3-04 24-09
7 Billy McCahren 0 0-00 24-07
7 Takahiro Omori 1 2-01 24-07
9 Ish Monroe 2 3-00 23-15
10 Ben Parker 4 8-11 23-10
10 Keith Combs 2 4-00 23-10
12 Randy Howell 3 5-13 23-09


10:19 a.m.

Things are starting to shake up a bit. Timmy Horton has an 11-pound limit that moves him up in the top five. Sanders texts that after 60 casts to the same spot, Jonathon VanDam hoks up with a 3 1/2 pounder, then follows with one close to 5-pounds.

They are both in the Harbor so the bite may be heating up. But not for every one.

--Steve Bowman


Something's rotten in the Pine Bluff Harbor.

After 45 minutes of fishing, Kevin VanDam has still yet to boat a fish. I thought this would be the most consistent bite on the river, but apparently, I was wrong. Today, for whatever reason, the bass are not firing like they have been.

VanDam fished the rise where he caught his best fish the last two days and caught nothing. He made a move and again caught nothing.

It can happen fast out here, especially for VanDam and they did seem to bite better late on the first day, but these guys are down to a little over two hours left.

-Rob Russow


10:15 a.m.

The photo gallery from this morning’s launch is live. Check it out.


10:12 a.m.

I hate to say it because I know how it will sound, but with all love intended, Aaron Martens is in his typical spot, second place.

And he's edging closer to Denny. Martens now has a 12-pound limit and is less than a pound behind the leader.

The fish don't seem to be biting in the Harbor for Denny, VanDam and McCaghren. Martens slow and steady pace, mixed in with the potential barge and lock issues, could put him in the driver's seat before this over.

--Steve Bowman


10:09 a.m.

Denny is keying on "rough spots" in 6 to 17 feet of water. He has not caught an undersized fish here all week and says he had 33 bites in two hours on Tuesday.

--Mark Zona


10:06 a.m.

The water temp here is near 90 degrees with an occasional puff of breeze. Not enough for the twenty or so spectator boats. I doubt the anglers are taking notice--the only breeze they are feeling is coming off the hands of the clock ticking off the minutes of time they haveto fish. John Murray boats a keeper off the boat dock.

--Tommy Sanders


10:05 a.m.

Another bass on the frog ... too short ... tossed back into the creek. It's now 10:00, when Ish said he was going to switch from the frog. Now he says he's going to give it 'till 11:00 since the small fish are still eating it. I have a feeling that if he catching another keeper, I'd have to pry the frog rod out of his cold dead hands.

--James Hall


10:00 a.m.

With everyone pretty close to where they are setting up shop, we wanted to show you on the map where every one is.


This is the entire stretch of the river from Morrilton to Pine Bluff that these anglers can fish.



This is the Pine Bluff Harbor, where most of the leaders can be found.



This Pool 5 between Little Rock and Pine Bluff



This is the Little Rock Pool


This is Pool 7, once pool above Little Rock



This is Pool 8, where Clark Reehm is fishing by himself.


9:57 a.m.

15 minutes of fishing with Johnny VanDam and Denny Brauer casting the jigs and spending as much time looking at each other as much as they look at the water. No bites.

--Tommy Sanders


9:56 a.m.

The anglers in Pool 6 likely just heard Ish Monroe scream, as a toilet flushed on his frog and he missed.If the bite was any indication to the size of that bass, it was a monster. Ish was rattled for a moment, but is now back to casting to shoreline cover. Hopefully he can forget about that miscue.

--James Hall


9:55 a.m.

Britt Myers just learned about the consequences of fishing near Kevin VanDam. KVD is fishing a drop near the bank and Myers wanted to fish out deeper, right where 20 spectator boats are watching KVD. Myers zoomed through the middle of them and whipped a cast almost to the motor of one boat.

Everyone quickly cleared out to give him room and he fished for about 5 minutes before moving on.

Surprisingly, VanDam has not had a bite yet. The clock is ticking as he continues burning up the shoreline.

-Rob Russow


9:49 a.m.

Ish landed another nonkeeper on the frog. He'd be having an exceptional day of fun fishing ... wait, another fish on! And another short bass! Like I was saying, he'd be having a great time catching all these fish on a frog if the Diamond Drive title wasn't on the line. Surely there's another keeper in this creek somewhere.

--James Hall


9:45 a.m.

Once the armada arrived in the harbor we picked up Billy McCaghren who's working a flat scattered with brushpiles (or "tops" as they are known in these parts) and logs. He's chunking a spinnerbait, crankbait and a jig, but hasn't had any bites yet. My boat driver Chip Hawkins has known Billy for years and says that McCaghren might've sunk a few of the burshpiles he's hitting. we'll see if they pay off.

--David Huner Jones


9:40 a.m.

5 boats arrive:-Pace and Murray set to work on boat docks--JVD on a drop offshore then Brauer 100 yards away. We are dropping Zona off with Denny

--Tommy Sanders


Be sure to check out the BassCam footage. Rob Russow, David Jones and Mark Zona in the boat with Denny should have some good updates from the water real soon.

-- Steve Bowman


9:39 a.m.

Kevin VanDam was about the third or fourth angler to make it back into Pine Bluff Harbor. We got on him right away because he has one spot where he gets bit almost immediately every time he pulls up.

Sure enough, VamDam sets the hook on his third or fourth cast, but it turns out to be a drum. His first cast was made a little after 9:30, so he lost about 35 minutes of fishing.

-Rob Russow


9:33 a.m.

Aaron Martens is taking full advantage of the slow lock times. he stayed in the Little Rock Pool and now has a limit that weighs around 10 pounds.

That puts him in seocnd with 31 pounds, just a few pounds behind Denny.

--Steve Bowman


9:23 a.m.

They are coming!

The locks into the Pine Bluff pool just releases the anglers and they are heading this way, about a 10-minute run. That will give them a little over 3 hours to fish.

When they get here, Zona will be on Brauer getting some good videos and I'll be on VanDam, seeing if he can keep his AOY lead. Then we have David Hunter Jones who will be roaming between the rest of the anglers here including Billy McCaghren.

-Rob Russow


9:17 a.m.

A bass just exploded on Ish's frog! He set the hook hard and it didn't come flying out of the water, which made it obvious it was a keeper.
"By the skin of it's teeth it measures!" exclaims Ish.
Although the largemouth is not big -- probably weighs a pound -- it helps him creep higher in the standings.

--James Hall


That last fish puts Ish in 7th place overall.

--Steve Bowman


9:11 a.m.

It's still early but not too early to talk about potentials for the day.

The guys headed to Pine Bluff are in their last lck and should be pushing out soon. But when they get out and before they get to the harbor, they will pass a double-barge headed to the lock they are in.

It often takes a couple hours for those big rigs to get through a lock. It could spell doom for those guys.

Likewise, they were already delayed by a barge in the lock between Pool 5 and the Little Rock Pool.

That barge is likely headed straight up river to Pool 7 and beyond. It will take several hours for it to get there and depending on the timing it could cause issues for those in the upper pool.

We are watching Ish Monroe because he has the best chance at the moment to make a move in the standings.

But as the day progresses, those guys in the Little Rock Pool may be sitting pretty. They include Evers and Aaron Martens. Evers needs the points for the AOY race, Martens could be in a position to win.

Barges and locks could be a big deal before the day is out.

--Steve Bowman


9:08 a.m.

Monroe says he's going to fish the frog 'til 10:00 a.m. His bites are getting fewer the farther back into this creek he creeps. It has narrowed to about 30 yards wide, but is 15 1/2 feet deep in the middle of the channel. Still, Ish casts only to cover in the skinniest of water.

--James Hall


8:55 a.m.

Ish just threw back his 8th short fish of the morning.
"I only had one bite on the frog all morning yesterday," he said.
"So, it's encouraging to be getting so many bites today!"
It's amazing to watch him work this bait. It seems like he's able to keep the lure in the strike zone forever. And he goes Babe Ruth on the hookset ... most of the small fish fly through the air halfway back to the boat when he jerks.

--James Hall


8:50 a.m.

Be sure to check out Dave Mercer's live update at 9 a.m. Watch it here.


8:44 a.m.

Rob Russow mentioned that Denny Brauer could likely be the benefactor for the lock delays. It's hard to argue that in terms of winning this event. But the real benefactor of all this could be Edwin Evers.

With VanDam creating a 100-point plus margin yesterday, having less time on his part and then dealing with yet another barge could hurt him. That would be give Evers a chance to make up some needed points in the AOY race. He's decided to stay in the Little Rock Pool at least for the morning.

He has one in the boat for about 2-8. It's a good start.

That fish actually jumps him up 10 places from 29th to 19th for the moment, which could add as little as 20 points to his AOY totals.

--Steve Bwman


8:40 a.m.

Ish is on the board! His first keeper of the morning ate the frog off a grass edge. The small largemouth probably weighs a pound and a half.

--James Hall


8:38 a.m.

The angler most helped by this locking delay will be Denny Brauer. Not only will it make it harder for the other anglers down here to catch up to him, but he has also needed the least amount of time to put together a good bag. We saw him catch two 3- to 4-pounders on consecutive casts and then break another one off.
Everyone else has been using every second of their time here. Billy McCaghren only caught four keepers yesterday. With 45 minutes less fishing time today, that could turn into three keepers and hurt his chances of fishing on the final day.
It will be interesting to see what time they finally get back here, but they will have less than 3 hours to fish.
-Rob Russow


8:33 a.m.

Ish just landed his sixth bass of the morning on the frog ... again too short to keep. The water in this bay is super shallow, hot (84 degrees) and very dirty. Almost all his bites are coming in less than a foot of water.
-- James Hall


8:22 a.m.

Here is a screen grab of the anglers who are locked out of Pool 5.

BASSTrakk Leaderboard:

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Place Angler Fish Day Three Total
1 Denny Brauer 0 0-00 34-01
2 Kevin VanDam 0 0-00 25-11
3 John Murray 1 2-03 25-06
4 Greg Vinson 2 3-04 24-09
5 Billy McCaghren 0 0-00 24-07
6 Keith Combs 2 4-00 23-10
7 Gerald Swindle 1 2-08 23-03
8 Kenyon Hill 2 4-02 23-02
9 Takahiro Omori 0 0-00 22-06
10 Aaron Martens 0 0-00 21-06
11 Ish Monroe 0 0-00 20-15
12 Clark Rheem 0 0-00 20-12

-- Hank Weldon


8:21 a.m.

The question that everyone has been asking since KVD took the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year lead on Day One, is can anyone stop KVD?
This morning at launch we learned that not even blowing out both tires on the freeway can stop him. KVD traveled a little over two miles on just metal and backed his rig down the launch with sparks flying and metal grinding. It was an awesome site to see and may just be another chapter in the legend of VanDam as he makes his charge for his 7th AOY title

When I asked tournament leader Denny Brauer if he knew anything about Kevin's tires, he laughed and joked that he "thought for sure that he go all four."

Here's the full story: VanDam Hurdles an AOY Obstacle

-- Dave Mercer


8:20 a.m.

Ish just caught another short fish on the frog. He says he likes black frogs in dirty water, white frogs in clear water. He is very slowly walking the topwater bait ... almost just twitching the bait in place. His casts are skimming beneath overhanging branches and he is working the bait only about 2 feet before reeling in and making another cast.

Yet another short fish on the frog for Ish. Hollow frogs are known for eliciting big bites, so he must be encouraged that the small fish are so willing to eat what he is throwing. Seems like it's just a matter of time before he runs into a keeper.

--James Hall


8:19 a.m.

The boats are in the lock. It won't be long now before they get in Pool 5 and contunue heading to Pool 4. I'm sure several of them will pass the double barge when they get through there, which will force many of them to rethink their timing and strategy for the day.

My guess, lots of scrambling will take place once they hit the Pine Bluff Harbor.

--Steve Bowman


8:15 a.m.

The minutes keep flying by and the contingent headed south continue to wait, while their day gets shorter and shorter. Below is a photo of what that looks like below the dam.

Meanwhile, we are hearing rumors that there is a big double-barge in Pool 4 headed upstream that could play havoc on those guys getting back to Little Rock.

They got to get down there first, though

--Steve Bowman


7:55 a.m.

Ish just missed another bass on the frog. He believes there are resident bass in these backwater areas that simply never leave. There's plenty of deep water access for the fish, and plenty to eat. He's hoping they are hungry this morning.

--James Hall


7:48 a.m.

Barges and locks are already taking their toll this morning. All the contingent headed south this morning are sitting at the lock waiting for a barge to clear.

That inludes Denny, KVD and Billy McCaghren, who have all had short days each day thus far anyway.

Waiting this extra time period won't put them in the best of moods and will likely cause some heart burn.

It's one more factor to a growing list that could impact this group.

Add to that is a local two-day bass tournament taking place in Pine Bluff. While the Elite anglers are sitting there, the locals could be beating up on the fish.

We saw a few guys get hurt by the lock yesterday, the group could grow today.

-- Steve Bowman


7:43 a.m.

Ish is now pitching a black hollow frog (Phat Frog by Snag Proof) to shoreline grass. Another small bass smashes it. He sets the hook and it comes unbuttoned before it gets to the boat. Ish just said a barge was coming into the lock, and that those anglers who were planning on locking through at 7:20 were going to be out of luck. The lock master locked anglers through early to beat the barge.

--James Hall


7:38 a.m.

The anglers locking through to Pool 7 shot out of the gates about 5 minutes ago. We followed Ish Monroe into a backwater area where he began flipping shoreline cover. This is not where he's been fishing. However, he feels like with the lack of current on the main river, the backwater spots may produce better. After explaining this to me, he set's the hook and boats a non-keeper.

--James Hall


7:30 a.m.

A photo of Combs' fish taken by Marhsal, Bill Cerrato. Behind Combs and near the railroad bridge, the second flight of anglers are taking off.


7:27 a.m.


The day has started and almost immediately the catching began with it.

No sooner than the last boat took off and we were driving away from the ramp than we received a phone message from Keith Combs’ Marshal. Within sight of the take-off, Combs boated a 3-pounder, then followed that up with another keeper. He has 4-pounds on the day and is in 5th.

Greg Vinson, who is running to Pine Bluff, caught a couple in the Little Rock Pool before they locked. He has 3-4 and sits in third. There are other catches littered down the standings. But nothing big.

Day Three will certainly be much different for us than the previous two days. We have a BASSTrakk unit in all of the boats and should be able to keep up with the majority of these guys all day.

Added to that we have our usual suspects on the water, most of them in the Pine Bluff Pool. All of them waiting for the first locks to open and send anglers their way.

As usual we will be watching the Trakk and keeping you posted on everything we can.

--Steve Bowman


7:25 a.m.

We're down to six days of fishing before we crown the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

Can anyone catch VanDam? Will Brauer's off-shore magic spot hold up?

Follow all the action on the water here on the live blog and on BASSCam.


Live blog archive: Day One -- Day Two