UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. — As Jeff Gustafson struggled through a difficult Saturday at the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake, he assumed he would probably fall out of the lead.
What he didn’t know is that most of the field was struggling right along with him — and despite catching five bass that weighed only 15 pounds, 4 ounces, he held on to first place with a three-day total of 64-5.
The Canadian pro will now lead the Top 10 remaining anglers into Championship Sunday with a chance to earn his first Bassmaster Elite Series victory and the $100,000 paycheck that goes with it.
“Today went by a lot quicker than the last two days when I had those big bags,” said Gustafson, who started the event with catches of 23-11 and 25-6. “I’m pretty surprised to be in this position. Hopefully I can close the door and catch those big fish again like I did the first two days.”
Despite his Day 3 dropoff, Gustafson has more than a 4-pound lead over second-place angler Chris Zaldain (60-0), who also struggled Saturday bringing in only 14 pounds. Minnesota pro Seth Feider caught just 15-14 and is in third with 58-11.
Gustafson was shocked to still be at the top of the standings.
“I was pretty sure I would have enough to stay in the Top 10,” he said. “But I figured I’d be probably fourth or fifth and playing catchup.
“I figured there would be another parade of 20-pound bags.
Many anglers were scratching their heads about why the quality of fishing took a nosedive Saturday. But some believed a cold front that blew into the region Friday evening was at least partly to blame.