MOUNTIAIN HOME, Ark. -- Surely there is precedent for a day of tournament fishing that was tougher than Day 3 of the 2017 Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship.
But there cannot be many.
Just before the sun rose on Friday morning, the temperature was an unpleasant 12 degrees on Norfork Lake here in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. A thick fog bunkered in around the 101 Dock just outside of Mountain Home, as well, and launch was delayed for nearly two hours.
The adverse weather was tough on the six anglers remaining in the Classic fish-off portion of this event, and it turns out the bass didn’t really care for the frigid conditions either -- or at least that’s the way it seemed.
The bite was decidedly off on Norfork Lake Friday. Had each of the six anglers caught limits, there would have been 30 bass cross the stage. Instead, the Top 6 produced only six bass on Friday, with three of the anglers getting skunked.
Robert Dodson Sr., a 71-year-old resident of Harrison, Ark., fared best of the group, catching three bass that totaled 6 pounds, 6 ounces. Dodson fishes on the Joe Bass Team Trail and he’s got experience in big tournaments. He once fished in the FLW Tour’s Forrest Wood Cup, though he said he’s never fished in a tournament as big as the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. He’ll have that chance in March should he hang onto the slim lead he has on the remainder of the fish-off field.
Ryan Butler of Blue Eye, Mo., also fishes on the Joe Bass Team Trail. He caught two bass on Friday that totaled 3-10. He said he’ll have to “keep swinging” to get his own shot at the Classic, and he is one of five anglers who said getting wind on Saturday will be key to getting bites.
Butler and the guys behind him might get their wish. Weather reports call for a steady 10 mph wind out of the northwest to begin blowing at approximately 9 a.m. and to continue throughout the day.
Whether that’s enough to rouse the bass to action is not known, but it won’t hurt, said Dodson’s son Robbie Jr. who is another of the six men competing in the fish-off.
The younger Dodson was one of three anglers (along with Brett Govreau of St. Louis, Mo., and Dustin Lippe of Lampe, Mo.) to zero on Friday.
“If there ain’t a breath of wind, (Dodson Sr.) will be better off,” Dodson Jr. said. “If there’s no wind (Saturday) there won’t be any fish caught. That would help him.”
Beau Govreau, who teamed with his older brother Brett earlier this week to win the team championship, helped himself with just 14 minutes of fishing time remaining on Friday. The 36-year-old St. Louis resident caught a 3 pound, 4 ounce keeper (the biggest bass of the day) and that had him in a better frame of mind heading into the final day of competition here on Norfork Lake.
The younger Govreau brother knows how to win. He earned the title at the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors back in April on Lake of the Ozarks not too far north of here in central Missouri.
Can he notch another win before 2017 is complete?
“I chased the wind today too and it just wasn’t there,” Govreau said. “I had some bites and with the conditions the way they were, they just wouldn’t commit. But if the wind blows tomorrow, who knows?”
Weigh-in is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. CST at the 101 Dock near Mountain Home. The event will be live-
streamed right here on Bassmaster.com.