It's anybody's game


James Overstreet

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Leader Ott DeFoe sounded worn out after Friday’s weigh-in, but confident that he’s getting his spot dialed-in.

Second-place Jordan Lee can’t believe his two small areas will hold up for two more days, but he’s had a blast so far.

Third-place Seth Feider guaranteed he wouldn’t catch another 19-pound bag like he did Friday, but who knows?

Fourth-place Edwin Evers is quietly confident, so the 2016 Bassmaster Classic champ is right where he wants to be.

Then there’s fifth-place Alton Jones, who has spent a total of 30 minutes each day in the spot where he’s totaled 30 pounds, 7 ounces.

“Now that I’ve got really good points that will help me for the Classic, I’ll lean on them a little bit harder,” Jones said. “It’s the kind of place that could have a motherlode of fish, but I don’t know. It may have had 15 fish on it, and I’ve caught all of them.”

In other words, it’s wide open as to who is the favorite to win at the halfway point of the Plano Bassmaster Elite at the Mississippi River presented by Favorite Fishing.

And don’t forget about Day 1 leader Casey Ashley, who dropped to seventh place. Because of Friday’s heavy rain and thunderstorms, Ashley’s smallmouth areas didn’t produce. But it’s supposed to be mostly sunny the next two days.

“I still think I can win it,” Ashley said.

There are so many scenarios in play, it’s hard to handicap the leaders at this point. But DeFoe has 35-2 and almost a two-pound lead over second place Jordan Lee, so he’s as good a guess as anyone.

DeFoe’s day brightened considerably in the final hour. After what he called one of the most mentally taxing days in recent memory, Defoe went back to his main area and caught the big bass of the tournament so far, a 6-1 largemouth, and culled again with a 3-pounder to finish with 17-11 on the day.

“The place I’m fishing has got ‘em, it absolutely does,” he said. “But I’m missing and losing more than I’m catching. The water is moving so fast they’re not getting it good, but they’re there.

“I feel like it’s got more potential after today than I thought after yesterday. I was kind of on the fence yesterday.”

Feider, a Minnesota resident who is familiar with the upper Mississippi River, could possibly catch another 19-5 bag if low clouds hung around all day, like they did Friday. But that’s not in the forecast. He weighed-in all smallmouth bass – four of which were in the 4-pound class.

“My smallmouth are in (18 inches) of water,” Feider said. “As soon as the sun gets up, they’re gone. Today they stayed up in that super shallow water all day. Saturday and Sunday I’ll have a pretty short window to catch a couple of those big ones – during the first hour probably.

“If I can catch a couple of those 4-pound smallies early, I’ll be sitting pretty.”

Lee, who had 17-2 Thursday and 16-2 Friday, is having so much fun catching bass on a topwater frog it’s unreal. He can’t believe the two small areas where he’s catching them will hold up for two more days, but he’s going to find out.

“It’s just a small stretch,” Lee said. “I don’t think they are winning places, unless they just keep getting better, or there are just that many fish there. This morning it was lights-out, quick. And it was actually better yesterday.”

Lee has had plenty of time to try and find other areas holding fish, but he’s been unsuccessful. So he’ll stick with what’s working.

That’s just it. There’s a lot of different stuff working for variety of anglers. It should make for an unpredictable finish to the final regular season event of the 2017 Elite Series season.