What’s expected in the Grand finale

On the third day, consistency made an appearance. Instead of those wild ups-and-downs in the standings, Saturday it stabilized somewhat for the 50 anglers remaining in the Academy + Sports Bassmaster Elite at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

Only three anglers moved into the top 12 that weren’t already there on Day 2, and one of those was Randall Tharp, who was 13th on Friday. The big movers were Tommy Biffle, from 20th to 6th, and Fred Roumbanis, from 21st to 10th.

So what’s expected today, when only the Top 12 are left in the competition? That’s easy: Kevin VanDam’s 25th B.A.S.S. victory. The peerless closer simply does not lose in these situations, not with a 3-pound, 4-ounce lead over his closest competitor, and not when he’s filled with this much confidence.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence going into (Sunday),” VanDam said Saturday. “This (afternoon) gave me the confidence to know I can apply what I’ve seen and make it work anywhere on the lake.”

Here’s how consistent VanDam has been: Day 1 – 21-15, Day 2 –20-10, Day 3 – 22-4.

But Grand Lake does have the ability to produce a wildcard – the 30-pound bag. Roy Hawk, who is 3-4 behind KVD, and Brandon Lester, who is 3-14 back, in third place, have, obviously, the best chances of catching the leader.

Lester’s 26-3 limit on Day 2 is the biggest bag of the tournament so far. Lester “stumbled” yesterday with 17-6, but he thought he’d figured out the puzzle at the end of the day.

Hawk has steadily improved, rising from 37th place (16-15) to 11th (19-14) to 2nd (24-12). His bag Saturday is the second-best of the tournament.

With more fish moving shallow to spawn, seemingly by the hour, anything could happen today. There hasn’t yet been that wild slugfest the anglers have increasingly predicted as the tournament has progressed. So this could be wildcard Sunday at Grand Lake. However, the odds are with Kevin VanDam, like they’ve been since he arrived on the scene 29 years ago.

The following is a comparison of the first three days of the Academy + Sports Bassmaster Elite at Grand Lake. There were 108 anglers in the field the first two days and 50 on Day 3.

  Day 1  Day 2   Day 3
Bass weighed-in    531 504  248
Ave. weight    3.15 lbs.      2.98 lbs.  3.05 lbs.
Limits   102     98      48
% catching limits   94.4%   85.2%    96.0%
Big bag     23-12   26-3     24-12 
20-lb. bags 11  6   5
Big bass  7-3   6-12 (2) 6-5