Saturday, March 13, 2010 Updated: March 14, 10:42 PM ET
By Rob Russow Bassmaster.com
STOCKTON, Calif. — All eyes were on Arkansas' Stephen Browning after he jumped out to a 5-pound lead with two consecutive 20-pound-plus days on the California Delta. Ultimately, his area didn't continue to produce and he fell to fifth place, bringing only one bass to the scales on Day Three.
Similar to the first two days of competition, Browning's day was off to a slow start.
"I'm sick to my stomach right now," Browning said. "Fishing is a humbling sport and you have to take the good with the bad."
Browning believed his area just dried up and even though he had a secondary area, there just wasn't time to make the move.
"I had another area, but you just can't leave when you've caught 45 pounds from an area," Browning said. "I had my bags packed and ready to go, but I knew the tide was coming in and so I stayed. You don't have time to fish both areas on a high tide."
The high tide was key for Browning all week and he had been catching most of his fish in the afternoon. A slow morning was not cause for alarm, but the bite never did materialize, even in the afternoon.
Stephen Browning (5th, 46-1)
Fortunately for Browning, his tough day only dropped him into fifth place. He sits 11 pounds behind good friend and frequent traveling companion Greg Hackney.
"On the Delta, you have a chance to make a comeback," Browning said. "Greg proved that today. I don't think the conditions will be good for that, but it can happen."
If anyone can mount a comeback, Browning is a good candidate. Cutting his teeth on the Arkansas River suited Browning well for coming to the California Delta. Add to that the fact that he made the biggest charge on the final day in 2007, bringing in 24 pounds, 4 ounces to finish third.
"This place really fishes to our liking — it's a place that we should do well with our background," Browning said. "If I can't win, I hope he (Hackney) does."
Regardless of the outcome, a top-12 finish will be a good start to his year.
"Getting to fish tomorrow is a great start — this place treats me well," Browning said. "I enjoy coming out to California and I didn't want to go up to Clear Lake early."