BULL SHOALS, Ark. — Sunday was a different day for Casey Scanlon in more ways than one.
Scanlon of Lenexa, Kan., took over at the Ramada Quest on Sunday, the third of four competition days of the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Bull Shoals Lake.
A consistent Scanlon weighed 13-12 Sunday — not as good, but still in the ball park of his 14-13 of Day One and 15-5 of Day Two. He tallied 43 pounds, 14 ounces to become the new leader.
The surprise of the day wasn’t that Scanlon jumped into the hot seat — he was, after all, in second place after two days. The upset was that Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., the leader of both Day One and Day Two, fell to 23rd place after his fishing spot shut down. Vinson was knocked out of the game; only the Top 12 will advance to Monday’s championship round.
Scanlon’s threat became Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., 12 ounces behind the new leader. Scroggins — as consistent over the past three days as was Scanlon — put together 43-2 over three days to move from fourth place into the runner-up spot.
Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla., saw a good return on the day’s largest bag, a 14-11. It popped him from sixth place into third with a three-day weight of 42-15. Prince trailed Scanlon by 15 ounces.
Claiming fourth place with 41-15 was 2013 Bassmaster Classic champ Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss. In fifth place with 40-7 was Jonathon VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.
A second-year Elite pro, Scanlon is facing heavy pressure from veteran “Big Show” Scroggins, Prince (also in his second Elite season) and the other nine finalists. The spread between 12th place and first place was 6 pounds heading into the final round.
But even though his lead could be described in ounces, it’s better than being the follower, Scanlon said.
“In this tournament, when it’s coming down to ounces, I’d rather be ahead than behind,” he said.
Scanlon said he had a limit early, just as he’d had the other two days. By 8 a.m. he five bass were in his livewell, but he wasn’t satisfied with the weight.
“They were a lot smaller,” he said. “I’d been saving a few areas, which I went to Sunday, but they didn’t pan out. I think it was a timing issue. They didn’t bite for several hours. It was just a different bite Sunday.”
He said he lost several “pretty good ones.”
“No telling how big they were, but they felt like good ones,” he said.
He returned to his starting spot late in the day and made several culls to steadily upgrade his weight. Yet something was different about the bite.
“It seemed I couldn’t do any wrong the first two days. Wherever I went, I could pull up and catch them. Not Sunday; they bit early, they bit late, but during the middle of the day, I could barely get a bite no matter where I was.”
He could not pinpoint the reason for the on-again, off-again results from Bull Shoals. The weather was favorable, he said: The temperatures were rising, the wind was blowing enough to ripple the water and help disguise him from spooky bass in the clear water.
Scanlon is targeting bass in deep water. He said he has checked some pockets for bigger bass moving onto shallower spawning beds, but he didn’t find any.
“I’ll stay out deep Monday, and hope it pans out,” he said.
Scroggins said he’s catching bass out deep, but is noticing that they’re moving to the banks. That was a surprise to him, he said, given that the water conditions had not changed much in two days.
“It’s starting to get tough,” said Scroggins, who on Saturday said he had 50 bites and 32 keepers. “I didn’t get near the bites I had the last two days. The quality starting to leave. I had 13 pounds Sunday, and I had to struggle to catch them.”
Scroggins said he might abandon his deepwater bite and hit the banks to try for spawners.
Prince, less than 1 pound behind Scanlon, was elated about his day and 14-11 bag
“I had the best day I’ve had all week,” he said. “I’ve kind of figured them out as the week’s gone on, how they’re setting up with this wind, and I think I can duplicate Monday.”
He and Steve Kennedy shared a creek. Prince had one side, Kennedy the other. “I was kind of scared we’d caught them all. But I left and Steve (Kennedy) still caught them after I left,” Prince said.
He said he’ll return to the creek. Finishing at 14th place, Kennedy is out of the tournament, so Prince will have it to himself Monday.
The largest bass of the day, a 4-11, was brought in by Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla. But the 5-6 that Kentucky pro Bradley Roy weighed on Day One stuck as the Quest’s largest so far. After Day Four, the best bass over four days will be worth the Carhartt Big Bass prize of $1,000 plus a $500 bonus if the angler was wearing Carhartt apparel.
Vinson’s Day One bag of 16-13 remained the frontrunner for the Quest’s Berkley Heavyweight Award of $500.
To win the award would be a keeper memory for Vinson. But it will take a while to get the 5-12 bag of Sunday out of his head.
“When I got into my creek Sunday, a lot of trash had pushed in and I couldn’t make the cast I needed to make with my jerkbait,” Vinson said. “I thought I could reconnect with the fish, but I couldn’t. My head’s still spinning.”
The Ramada Quest wraps up Monday, one day later than usual because Day One was delayed until Friday after dangerous weather conditions on Thursday forced a postponement. Only the Top 12 will compete in Monday’s $100,000 championship round.
The Quest’s first prize of $100,000 and an instant-in for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Pros also are earning points toward a Classic qualification. The top pro in points at the end of the eight-event regular season will take the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy.
Fans can follow the action on Bassmaster.com, and are invited to the Bull Shoals-White River State Park to watch the pros weigh their catches. The Monday weigh-in will begin at 3:15 p.m.