MUSKOGEE, Okla. — On Day Four of the AutoZone Sooner Run some anglers tried new areas on Fort Gibson Lake that didn't produce the fish they wanted.
For some like Davy Hite, who hit different areas during the day, the quality fish he had been catching weren't around.
"I did some things differently in places, but being in 12th going in, there's no place you can go but up," Hite said. "I felt like I needed to find a big group of quality fish to get into the top five and I looked around, but it just didn't happen."
Mike McClelland changed his decision at the morning launch to start in a new spot.
"I had made a decision this morning not to start where I'd been starting," he said. "I had been stopping on a place that I looked at in practice and a lot of fish were chasing there."
McClelland caught four fish in an row that included two solid keepers in his new area, one a 5-pounder, and his enthusiasm of winning the tournament soared.
"I was excited," he said. "At that time, I thought I could catch 20 or 22 pounds today to get a shot at the post-season, but I probably didn't cover enough water. After I caught those four then I hit a lull and I was searching for a fifth one. I just never got anything else."
Sharing the same water
Alabama fishermen Russ Lane and Boyd Duckett worked the same area on the water and both ended up with solid limits at the drive-by weigh-in at a packed Three Forks Harbor.
In an area where two creeks came together and intersected with the river, Lane found the fish he needed to boost himself into the postseason.
"I had never seen an area like that before," he said. "Boyd was fishing more toward the shoreline the last couple of days and we went around and around the area, picking sweet places."
Although the competition was intense between the two anglers, they worked together to find their much needed fish on Day Four.
"It's not common to fish in the same spot," Duckett said. "I knew that Russ was going to finish in the top 10 and not that I wasn't trying to beat him, I gave him a chance in that area. I'm already in the Classic and I can't make the post-season, but he could make it and I'd like to see that."
Because of the coooperation, Lane hauled in the largest bass of the day at 5 pounds, 6 ounces that put him eighth place overall.
"It worked well," Lane said. "All that hard work I've done has gotten me there."
Current changes cause problems
For Matt Herren, Pat Golden and Kevin VanDam, the change in current flow at Fort Gibson Lake hampered their efforts of catching the larger fish they needed to vie for the tournament title.
"I caught the fool out of them," Herren said. "I just couldn't get the quality bites today. I got up the river where I had been fishing and the current stopped for whatever reason. They cut the flow and we had no current there at all this morning."
The lack of water flow in the morning didn't turn the fish on for VanDam until later in the day.
"Actually I had a good day fishing, but they didn't turn on until late in the day," he said. "I was catching small fish, then they started pulling water and I ended up catching some 3-pounders"
Golden entered the final day in second place behind eventual champion Tommy Biffle and found the change in current flow made it tougher to catch the fish he needed to pull out a win.
"I was fishing in an area and it changed a little bit today," Golden said. "They weren't pulling as much water, which makes sense with the flood waters slowing down into the lake. I didn't run out of fish, but conditions changed without the wind and a little less current."
At times, the lack of current was aggravating.
"It monkeyed with them," Herren said. "The current made a difference, but that's just the way it is. Everybody had to play it and it was all we could do."
"At a certain point, you have to look up and say thanks."
— Cliff Pace
"I can't complain. My hands are torn up, I'm wore down to the bone, and I have got to get a haircut, but I had a great time."
— Rick Morris
"I caught everything on a Biffle Bug. When you quit feeling the bottom, you got him."
— Tommy Biffle, on how he caught 73-pounds, 11 ounces to win the AutoZone Sooner Run
"These fish were really souped up and stuff was was going berserk."
— Pat Golden
"I had to mix it up all week and it was tough."
— Mike McClelland