Field notes: Lake Fork

When we decided to do this Field Notes column after every event, the plan wasn’t necessarily to start each piece with talk about the winner. Rather, we wanted to highlight interesting things that had happened from top to bottom throughout the standings — things that may not have been mentioned in the plethora of tournament coverage during the actual event.

But please. How could we write about last week’s Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork without putting Lee Livesay’s historic performance front and center?

“Historic” sums it up in so many ways.

For starters, Livesay’s four-day total of 112 pounds, 5 ounces made him only the 32nd member of Bassmaster’s Century Club — an exclusive group of anglers who’ve managed to catch at least 100 pounds of bass in a four-day event.

His Day 4 limit of five bass that weighed 42-3 might have been even more impressive than his overall weight, considering it ranked as the third-best all-time for a B.A.S.S. event. The only two bigger limits were caught by Dean Rojas (45-2) on Lake Toho in 2001 and Terry Scroggins (44-4) on Falcon Lake in 2008.

Livesay’s 42-3 now stands as the only five-bass limit in the all-time Top 5 that wasn’t caught during that 2001 event on Toho or the 2008 smashfest on Falcon.

This was Livesay’s second career victory — and the stats and circumstances leading up to it sort of made it easy to call. As we pointed out in the last edition of Field Notes (after the Sabine River), Livesay has consistently improved in every event this season. 

He had finished 50th, 32nd, 28th and ninth in the four events prior to Lake Fork — a lake where he spends much of his offseason guiding clients. 

The writing was on the wall — and it’s safe to say Livesay’s guide schedule just got slammed. 

Now, finally, here’s what happened elsewhere throughout the standings.

Second place: Patrick Walters (102-5)

Not only did Walters continue his amazing run on the Bassmaster Elite Series by making his eighth-straight semifinal cut, he broke the century mark himself for the second time in six events. Most will recall his first foray into Century Club territory also happened on Fork when he claimed his first Elite Series win with 104-12 last fall.

This marks the second time that both the first- and second-place anglers topped the Century Mark on Fork. It also happened in 2019 when South Carolina pro Brandon Cobb caught 114-0, besting Michigan pro Garrett Paquette who caught 101-15.

This was the 14th Top 10 finish in the young career of Walters, who remains one of the hottest anglers on the planet. 

Third place: Quentin Cappo (99-6) 

After some tough sledding his first two seasons on the Elite Series, Cappo has come into his own this year, making three semifinal cuts in five events. His 21st-place showing at the Sabine River earlier this month stood as his highest Elite finish for only a couple of weeks, as he notched his first career top five at Fork.

He missed his own Century Belt by just 10 ounces and currently sits in 44th place in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, just outside the cut for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, with four regular-season events remaining.

Fourth place: Brandon Card (97-3)

Card went into the final day with a real chance to win the event, but he wound up fourth after struggling a bit on Championship Sunday. He still managed his 19th career Top 10 and his highest four-day total in a B.A.S.S. career that has now spanned 107 events. 

Fifth place: Chris Zaldain (93-0) 

This was the high point of an up-and-down season for Zaldain and his 22nd career Top 10. For perspective, Zaldain’s total of 93 pounds was more than the combined weight he’d caught in the four other regular-season events leading up to Fork.

Sixth place: Seth Feider (86-11)

Mr. Consistency 2021 did it again — and that’s why he still holds the lead in the AOY standings.

In five events this year, Feider has now finished third, 29th, 25th, sixth and sixth.

Seventh place: Taku Ito (83-14) 

The Japanese pro who professes to be more of a deepwater expert has fared well in two Texas events, finishing third at the Sabine and seventh at Fork.  

Eighth place: Chad Morgenthaler (83-10)

After opening the season with finishes of 70th, 42nd, 51st and 94th, Morgenthaler stopped the bleeding a bit with his 21st career Top 10. 

10th place: Austin Felix (80-3) 

This was easily the best finish for Felix this season and his fifth career Top 10 with B.A.S.S.

11th place: Carl Jocumsen (61-13)

After an average finish of 65th place in four previous events, Jocumsen turned his season around — and he still has four regular-season events to capitalize on new momentum.

12th place: Jay Yelas (61-2)

Yelas earned his 102nd Top 20 in his 225th event with B.A.S.S. It was his second-straight strong showing on Fork after finishing third there last season.

16th place: Joshua Stracner (59-6)

This was Stracner’s highest finish ever on the Elite Series and enough to keep him in the Rookie of the Year lead with 333 points.

21st place: Caleb Sumrall (57-14) 

A career year continues for Sumrall, as he’s now finished 19th, 15th, seventh and 21st in his last four events. He sits in 11th place in the Bassmaster AOY race, safely in line for a Classic berth with half the season gone.

23rd place: Scott Martin (57-6) 

Two years ago, Martin pledged to qualify for the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series through the Bassmaster Opens, earn a spot in the Bassmaster Classic and bring home that coveted trophy for his famed family’s trophy case.

He made the Elite Series. And now, after a curiously tough start of 73rd place on the St. Johns River in his home state of Florida, he’s put together finishes of 25th, 21st, 37th and 23rd and rests in 20th place in the AOY race. That’s easily in line for the Classic berth he so covets.