Smart smallies, harassment, treble troubles

The top five things from Day 3 of the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.

First cast

Mark Zona claims the St. Lawrence smallmouth are smart. How smart?

Glad you asked. From experience, the northern smallie expert said on Bassmaster LIVE that smallmouth must sense something is up when you start taking their brethren from an area.

“They don’t like it when you kidnap their buddies and take them to weigh in,” Zona said. “They get gunshy. After you hammer on them, they become incredibly smart.

“We’re seeing that with Skeet Reese today. When you kidnap a few of their buddies, they become so hard to catch. They almost act like zombies. They will check you out, but not commit to your bait.”

Reese, who had close to 20 pounds each of the first two days, fell to sixth on Day 3 with a bag of 15-9.

Two in the well

Mark Menendez had a disturbing occurrence on the St. Lawrence. A man opposed to fishing boated next to Menendez and harassed the Elite angler.

The irate man got so close, Menendez’s Marshal was able to snap a shot of him screaming. The photo was sent to, however, it was not published.

Menendez followed up though, making a move to defend all anglers. He said the man will be indicted under hunter/angler harassment laws. There are laws in all 50 states and Canada to prevent people from disturbing others pursuing game.

“I did nothing wrong just going down the bank to fish,” Menendez said on stage during the Day 3 weigh-in. “We help promote our fishery and inland waters. All the companies we buy products from, they do that as well. That gentleman messed with the wrong cat.”

Three’s company

Aaron Martens isn’t a fan of the New York law that states fish reeled in must have a hook inside the mouth. The crazy fighting smallmouth are known to throw that initial hookup but the other hooks on a treble will often pierce them somewhere outside of their mouth.

“It actually changed the way I fished,” said Martens, who missed the cut by one spot. “I couldn’t throw my reaction bait.”

Martens, who maintained a lead over Dean Rojas in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings, might have made the Top 12 if he didn’t have to release a 3 1/2-pounder due to following the rule. He instead had to weigh a 2-pounder and missed the cut by 14 ounces.

Steve Wright covered the topic on Hank Cherry’s woes with the rule. Mark Zona offered a nugget that assisted Skeet Reese's run to the Top 12.

“What Skeet Reese did to remedy the New York law, he went to a small Pointer 78,” Zona said. “We had so many anglers having trouble with the bigger jerkbaits.”

Tommy Sanders commented that the smaller hooks helped prevent the No. 1 issue of the week.

Four on the floor

Some of the hardest workers of the week have been the Northern New York Junior Bassmasters. They’ve served as Ramp Monkeys, cleaning and drying the pros boats. New York has a law that boats need to cleaned so none of the invasive species of plant and animal life “hitch hike” to another waterway.

“They have been busting their cans all week,” Zona said, applauding their efforts on LIVE.

A number of invasive species, like Eurasian watermilfoil, the zebra mussel and spiny water flea have been found in the Great Lakes, making the journey from hither and yon via ocean going vessels.

The kids, shown in this photo from Arlene O'Marah Kiah, were reported to have a good time using elbow grease to rub elbows with the Elites.

That’s a limit

Steve Bowman earned Zona’s on-the-water reporter MVP when he gave a rundown of how leader Edwin Evers has been fishing a big flat with soft current.

“It looks to me like he’s more surfing and scanning for cruisers, then setting up where he pulls one out,” Bowman said. “He’s fishing out of the back deck of the boat more than the front because of the wind.”

Bowman said he could look down and see 3- and 4-pound bass cruising around, but any movement on the boat and the skittish smallmouth, which he imagined were guarding beds, were gone.

“It was just clear,” Zona said. “He kind of walked through exactly what he and Edwin were visually seeing. I thought that was cool.”


  • Steve Wright wrote that Skeet Reese might have been sand-bagging weight on Saturday. BASSTrakk showed him with 14-0 but those in the know thought he might have closer to 18. His actual weight was right inbetween at 15-9, putting him sixth.
  • For Josh Bertrand’s sake, let’s hope Zona’s impromptu nickname of Happy Leprechaun doesn’t stick. Unless Bertrand likes it.
  • After talk of Dave Mercer eating a goby, the next time he provided an update for LIVE, he was nowhere near the water nor the favorite local fare of smallmouth. Instead he interviewed folks at the Party in the Park. He got some interesting answers from several, who appeared to be getting ready for the ZZ Top cover band that was to play after the weigh-in. Definitely, ZZ Top crowd, not the Pat Benatar cover band crowd.
  • Photo of the Day from Steve Bowman features Edwin Evers' reaction to a miss. Can anyone relate?