<
>

CLASSIC BLOG: Day 3

Check out our ON THE WATER Photo Gallery with Day 3 Classic pictures!


IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS - February 25, 2007, posted at 3:34 PM CST

By our account all the anglers are in and if they aren't then it won't
matter where they are.

There are at least a half dozen guys floating in their boats and thinking
they have a shot at winning.

There's a couple that are just downright sick because they lost a big fish
or multiple fish. Others are sitting there and wondering what they might
have done differently.

It all runs the gamut right now.

The way we see it. It is way too close to call.

Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese are separated by a breath of air. And every
angler down to 8th has a mathematical shot at winning this thing.

All of the weights we've been giving you are purely subjective and
thoroughly unofficial. They also have a plus or minus factor. I don't know
exactly how much plus or minus, but I'm giving it at least 3 pounds.

That ensures that the top five are probably pretty close. We haven't heard
from Duckett and I expect he went totally cyber-sneaky and has more than
what think he does.

There are too many variables to even make a call. We might go as far as to
say there could be a tie. I just hope not.

Which makes the weigh-in worth watching, either in person or on the internet
through our live weigh-in.

Both ways, the next few hours are going to rock.

This is our reported top 10:

1. Kevin VanDam 45-6
2. Skeet Reese 45-5
3. Gary Klein 44-3
4. Terry McWilliams 43-9
5. Boyd Duckett 42-5
6. Dean Rojas 38-9
7. Mike Wurm 38-1
8. Terry Scroggins 37-7
8. Todd Faircloth 37-7
10. Randy Howell 37-6

— Steve Bowman


Wurmin' his way in - February 25, 2007, posted at 2:43 PM CST

You want a good example of last-minute blitz's? In the last hour, Mike Wurm
has turned up the heat.

He's still way off the lead, but in the last little bit, he's caught three
fish in the 3-pound range to upgrade his catch to 13 pounds overall.

He's sitting in 7th. Time is running short. But when the 3-pounders start
showing at that rate, the 5-pounders could easily follow. He's just 7 pounds
off the pace.

So even though Skeet and KVD are neck and neck, Wurm and some of those below
are still in a position to move.

And again, where is Biffle? Duckett?
— Steve Bowman


Skeet may have a surprise... - February 25, 2007, posted at 2:40 PM CST

This just in. One of our intrepid reporters on the water just called. It
seems Skeet Reese has gone cyber-sneaky. Really his Bass Trakk has run out
of juice.

He called to report that Reese had just added a 3-pounder to his creel. And
overall he has a 13-pound stringer.

The blitz is on.

Add those unofficial weights to our already unofficial total and that puts
Reese just one ounce behind VanDam

One more Holy Cow for the record,

Our standings right now:

1. Kevin VanDam 45-6
2. Skeet Reese 45-5
3. Gary Klein 44-03
4. Terry McWilliams 43-09
5. Boyd Duckett 42-05

I have to remind everyone that we haven't heard from Duckett in several
hours or Biffle.

Some more Holy Cows could be on the way.
— Steve Bowman


The Final Countdown - February 25, 2007, posted at 2:39 PM CST

This is it. The last half hour of the tournament. Chances are this event has
been decided, but more likely is 25 guys are scrambling, making things
happen, going for broke.

An interesting trend in this contest today revolves around the weights of
the average catch.

In the 7 a.m., to 8 a.m., hour this morning the average size of the fish
weighed in was just over 1 pound.

It stayed that way, inching up for the next two hours.

Then from 10 a.m., to 11 a.m., the average weight was 2-pounds per fish.

By the 1 p.m. To 2 p.m., hour the average had grown to almost 2 1/2 pounds.

That's the perfect example of turning up the heat.
— Steve Bowman


Just how accurate is the Bass Trakker? - February 25, 2007, posted at 2:10 PM CST

There's one hour left of this madness, then the real crazy stuff starts
happening at the weigh-in.

Meanwhile, we're all pulling for our favorites, hoping beyond all hope that
the info the Bass Trakk is producing is either dead-on accurate or dead-on
wrong.

Judging purely on my limited experience, ain't no way this stuff is dead on.
It might be close, but completely accurate? Not a chance.

Last night we had Tommy Biffle stroking his way to the lead; he wound up in
8th. And that's just one example.

The way the system works is there is some guy, either riding along or
following these anglers, and pushing information into a phone system. That's
about as complicated as I intend to make that, because that's really all I
know.

Now these guys, all good old boys who love fishing, can't really be relied
on to make good, decent judgment calls on how much a fish weighs. This, after
all, is fishing, where the tendency is to over-exaggerate or under-sell.

Take Skeet Reese. He swore he had 12 or 13 pounds on Day One and wound up
with 17-plus. So these pros ain't too reliable, either.

With all that said, and after almost 20 years of covering these guys, these
are some immediate impressions. I think VanDam has more than his reported 12
1/2 pounds. Probably as much as 2 pounds more. I just know that the most positive-thinking angler in the world is negative only when judging the weight of a
keeper.

The same goes for Gary Klein. I expect he'll have more weight than the 15
pounds that's reported. Can't speak for McWilliams, he's just salty.

The end result is the same, though. This Classic is coming down to the wire
and will only be settled in the final moments of the weigh-in.

— Steve Bowman


We like Terry McWilliams - February 25, 2007, posted at 1:57 PM CST

Terry McWilliams has been incredible this week. I can't say that enough.

It's impressive to watch him to stick to his game plan and move into
contention. He's pretty much camped at the Wilsonville Steam Plant (I wonder
if they really make steam there?).

But the neat thing is the last two days, he's basically caught of 13 1/2
pounds from that spot for each day. He had to know that pace wouldn't be
enough to catch VanDam. But he also had to go back.

He milked that area for all it was worth, building his biggest stringer to
date at almost 16 pounds. And now he's on the move. And it's probably the
right move.

He's got to add 3 pounds at least to his overall weight to win. But his move
did one of those hit the dirt deals, where it looks like he's fishing in a
parking lot.

Further examination in Google Earth shows us he's moving into a tiny ditch,
the same kind of environment Biffle has been using. And the kind of hidey
hole capable of producing a big-headed largemouth.

Even if he doesn't catch one, you like to see the underdog go for the glory.

****

Speaking of glory and going for it.

Gary Klein has come so close in the past the Classic trophy is like a hood
ornament, always in sight, always out of reach.

But it's getting close this go around. In the last 30 minutes, Klein has put
on a little charge of his own.

He's built a 15-8 stringer and is now in second, just a little more than a
pound out of the lead.

Klein, once again, will be in a position to win this thing. If it actually
happens, while that monkey jumps off his back and runs across the stage,
expect Kevin VanDam to say, "If I had to lose, I'm glad it was to Gary."

How's that for some visionary crap?

****

It shouldn't be lost on anyone that these last few minutes are a full-on
blitz from every angler. The moves they have started coming strong.

— Steve Bowman


VanDam is a sneaky dude - February 25, 2007, posted at 1:30 PM CST

So much for not hearing from Kevin VanDam. A small part of us suspected that
maybe he had gone cyber-sneaky on us and was quietly wacking them, since we
hadn't received any catch info at all since 9:40.

Then about 1 o'clock our little Bass Trakk blinked. VanDam, after a dry
spell, is back on the climb. He's added to his limit a 2 pound, 5 ounce fish
that gives him 12-7 for the day, and pushing the distance from Terry
McWilliams still in second.

But the race is far from over.

McWilliams added another keeper, moving up to 15-12 for the day, but still
almost 2 pounds back.

And Skeet Reese has started charging. In the last 20 minutes he's finished
his limit, he's now got about 11 pounds, just 2 pounds out of the lead.

And to add fodder to the exciting finish, Gary Klein just boated another
3-pounder pushing his weight to more than 14 pounds.

Meanwhile Duckett has gone into cyber-sneaky mode and we're wondering what
he's up to. He's moving around according to our eye in the sky. But any
catch info is non-existent.

Currently the standings look like this.

1. Kevin VanDam 45-6
2. Terry McWilliams 43-9
3. Skeet Reese 43-5
4. Gary Klein 43-1
5. Boyd Duckett 42-5
6. Dean Rojas 38-9
7. Todd Faircloth 37-7
8. Randy Howell 36-14
9. Kevin Wirth 36-06
10. Jason Quinn 36-3
10. Mike McClelland 36-3

— Steve Bowman


VanDam perched, ready to strike at any threats - February 25, 2007, posted at 12:36 PM CST

It's not lost on us pundits that we haven't heard from VanDam in quite a
while.

He's just been sitting quietly on top the leaderboard, and if you didn't
know better you might think he's leaned back and picking his teeth.

According to our records, we have him with a limit totaling 11 pounds. And
the overall lead with 44 pounds, more than a pound a head of Terry
McWilliams.

But we know KVD better than that. He's a man in constant motion. But it does
worry us a bit that from 7:26 a.m., to 9:39 a.m., he boated a total of 7
keepers. Since then, almost three hours have passed and we haven't heard a
thing from him.

Meanwhile, Todd Faircloth, who is fishing seemingly close at least from our
eye-in-the-sky view, has been racking up the weight. Right now, he's put
together one of the heaviest stringers of the day at 14 pounds, 7 ounces.

According to our eyes on the water, he's fishing a river ledge that drops
off into 30 feet of water with some scattered brush along the lip.

All of his fish are spotted bass and he's catching them on a Senko rigged on
a Shaky Head. According to Faircloth, he's been doing this everyday, but
this is the first day the bigger bites have shown up.

If they continue to get bigger, Faircloth could really shake things up. He's
just 6 pounds out of the lead.

— Steve Bowman


Here's a good piece of trivia - February 25, 2007, posted at 12:12 PM CST

Something of note that may correllate with today's final weigh in.

In 2001, BASS hired Dean Kessel as their GM, and Kevin VanDam won the Bassmaster Classic.
Fast forward a few years to 2005, when BASS hired Don Rucks as their new GM, and Kevin VanDam won the Classic.

Why do I bring this up? Because in 2007, just a few weeks ago, BASS hired Tom Ricks as their new GM.

I'll leave the rest up to you to figure out.

— Matt Barnette


Day 2 #2 trying to become Day 3 #1- February 25, 2007, posted at 12:10 PM CST

No sooner than I finished the last entry and Skeet Reese doubles his weight with one catch. It was only a 2-pounder. But now he has three for about 5 pounds. And it moved him into the top six, just six pounds off the lead.

Then as quick as that happened Randy Howell finished his limit and jumped
into 7th place with a 9-pound day.

Followed by Steve Kennedy in 8th place with his fourth keeper of the day.

We like the fact that they stayed with their game plan.

Another two hours of productive fishing and they could make big strides.

Now we're waiting for Biffle to get in the game.

The top 10 looks like this:

1. Kevin VanDam 44-00
2. Terry McWilliams 42-11
3. Boyd Duckett 42-05
4. Gary Klein 38-09
5. Todd Faircloth 37-07
6. Skeet Reese 37-05
7. Randy Howell 37-02
8. Jason Quinn 36-03
8. Mike McClelland 36-03
8. Steve Kennedy 36-03

— Steve Bowman


All quiet on the Southeastern front - February 25, 2007, posted at 12:01 PM CST

It's all quiet on the front lines, or at least it appears to be that way.

There's certainly not as much jockeying around on the leaderboard like we expected. We still think it's the quiet before the storm.

Looking at our top 10, there are still a lot of things that can happen.

Biffle, Reese and Howell still have time to make up ground fast, if they start catching them.

But the reality is VanDam is holding them off. He's by no means running away with it. Based solely on what we think we know he's within reach of a lot of guys.

Terry McWilliams just made a slight move. He's jumped up to 2nd place, catching a 3-plus that has him just a little over a pound away from the lead. Maybe that's actually a big move.

McWilliams is concentrating on the outtake of the Wilsonville Steam Plant, pitching a tube and a jig into heavy current. He's been camped there basically all week.

It's working and right now, the amateur has the best shot of all to overtake the master.

On down the list, Gary Klein is about 5 pounds off the lead. No step for stepper like Klein. And the guys you have to watch for are those who haven't limited yet, but you expect them to.

Like Scroggins. He's punching matted grass, a tactic that he's a master of and one that typically produces better quality fish.

He only has three right now, sitting in 11th some 8 pounds back. But two 4 plus pounders and he's right in the mix. And then there's Dean Rojas in 12th. We haven't heard from him since 8:45 a.m., and he started with a 5 and a 4. He's just a little under 9 pounds back with that info.

So while it seems quiet, there is still a lot going on and a lot of time for
things to break loose.

— Steve Bowman


Making moves at Lunch Time - February 25, 2007, posted at 11:30 AM CST

It's after 11 a.m., and the moves are starting to take place. Those are the moves on the water, not necessarily on the leaderboard.

VanDam has been stuck in Beeswax Creek, where he's boated his initial limit of 11 pounds to stay atop aboard.

Now he's moved one creek up. And Rojas, who has Spring Creek virtually to himself, has been off the radar for over two hours. In that time, anglers like Alton Jones (21st), Gary Klein (4th) and several others have started to stick their noses in there as well.

It's not lost on any of us that Skeet Reese seems to be struggling. We can't know yet if that is a product of little or no water being pushed out of Logan Martin Dam or if it's a timing thing.

Reese has plodded along all week, slowly building every day to move into second place going into the day. But by this time each day, he's had a better foundation built. So has Randy Howell, who couldn't finish a limit yesterday.

Both are falling down the standings as these other guys build limits. No one knows what the right decision will be, but our guess is we're coming up on a pivotal moment for both of them.

They are in contention to win if they capture a limit. But it seems slow enough it might make them want to change strategies and locations. That might be the right thing it might be the wrong thing.

If one or both stays and does pull this off, it won't be lost on some of us that their ability to focus amid the pressure is truly uncanny.

— Steve Bowman


Gary Klein making a run for it - February 25, 2007, posted at 11:01 AM CST

On the strength of two 3-pound fish, caught at about 10:05 a.m., Gary Klein has jumped into the top 5.

Klein is one of those anglers who has stayed hidden from us the majority of the time. He's not showing up on our tracker, but we are getting some catch info.

Currently, he has four keepers weighing in around 9 pounds, 14 ounces. That makes him about six pounds out of the lead, in position to shake things up before the day is over.

Also missing from our constant eye is Tommy Biffle. He comes in and out and the last record we have is one keeper at 1-6. He's sitting in the 19th spot based on that info. But we expect him and Klein to both have more by the end of the day.

While most of our Federation Nation attention has been placed on Terry McWilliams, it's nice to see Royce Dennington get into the mix. He currently has a limit of about 7 pounds and is in 16th place.

These guys are obviously good. They made it here through the ranks of the Federation Nation, a win all to itself. But making the cut and playing for the big dough takes more than just being good.

The Classic is tough. Not just the fishing, but all the attention and distractions that come with it. When two Federation Nation guys do it this well, it means they not only have the skills but the mental frame of mind to
focus and get the job done.

— Steve Bowman


Swindle, Post Mortem - February 25, 2007, posted at 10:30 AM CST

It was about this time yesterday when disaster struck for Gerald Swindle.

Now he's gone from the field. Let the pundits rant and rave.

The reality is Swindle made a move in the heat of battle that caused him to be disqualified for the day. This isn't the end of the world. This isn't the
end of someone's career. It was a rule's infraction that was dealt with swiftly and decisively, which is exactly how you want those things to be
dealt with regardless if you are a fan or competitor.

There was no malice intended by anyone, especially Swindle. He just made a wrong move. He's one of the most passionate competitors on the water, which
is just the kind of competition you want to see in these events.

Swindle has been in this game for about 10 years and every minute of it has been driven by the need to prove himself. That's what makes him great and
the thing that makes this sport an awesome one to watch.

We feel for Swindle in a lot of ways. And after his initial reaction, the same one we all would have had, we were struck by the fact that we think he
handled it like a competitor should.

We certainly hope his passion isn't dampened. We are pretty certain this will make him even more resolved.

And while we agree with the decision made by Trip Weldon, there's still a big part of us that wishes Swindle was running and gunning, flying by the
seat of his pants and continuing to change the complexion of this event.

— Steve Bowman


Lay Lake is awesome. Seriously - February 25, 2007, posted at 10:20 AM CST

Still more kudos for Lay Lake. The lake has produced some really good weights, a lot of excitement and a mixture of big spots and big largemouth.

Not to mention the variety of ways these guys are catching them, from jerkbaits to punching grass beds. That's pretty cool, when it's not a
referendum on who can fish one specific pattern the best.

But even more at least at this time, out top 10 is scattered from Logan Martin Dam to Lay Lake Dam, that's a distance of about 50 miles. And just watching things unfold, it appears that's 50 miles of dang good fishing.

****

An interesting thing to note: All of these guys apparently have confidence in their game plans. I'm sure before this over some one will make a gamble and start trying something different to make up for lost ground.

Right now, though, each of them appears to have returned to the same exact spots they started in yesterday. It's working for some of them like Rojas, who has boated three quality keepers.

In the next hour, we expect to see at least half the field with a limit. Following that it will be interesting to see how everyone starts moving
around.

Judged solely on the last two days, the larger fish seem to start showing up after 11 o'clock. I'm sure most of these guys are aware of that, even without the use of Bass Trakk.

At 10 a.m., it shapes up like this:

1. Kevin VanDam 44-00
2. Boyd Duckett 42-5
3. Terry McWilliams 41-9
4. Todd Faircloth 37-01
5. Terry Scroggins 35-15
6. Dean Rojas 35-6
7. Mike McClelland 35-2
8. Skeet Reese 35-00
9. Mike Iaconelli 34-9

10. Steve Kennedy 34-7

The biggest change so far has been Todd Faircloth's move from 10th to 3rd, a
direct result of a 4 1/2 pounder he caught at 9:58 a.m.

— Steve Bowman


Federation Nation angler closest to up-ending KVD's run at a 3rd Classic title - February 25, 2007, posted at 10:10 AM CST

This has the smell of de ja vous. Terry McWilliams is back and near the top of the leaderboard.

We on this point yesterday about this time. McWilliams is our amateur. A Federation Nation angler who obviously knows how to catch them. He's become our dark-horse favorite, because he's held up so well.

Now it looks like he's just getting stronger. We like that.

He's currently in 2nd place. He's caught a limit and it weighs a reported 13 pounds, 12 ounces. That's pretty stout, something to build on.

The nice thing about McWilliams' stringer is four of those fish are basic 3-pounders. One big kicker and he makes a huge move. A big kicker like Boyd Duckett from Day One and he becomes hard to beat.

****

Of course, Kevin VanDam isn't going to make it easy on anyone. He's just posted a limit of about 11 pounds. And we can see Steve Kennedy finally start to wake up. He's put three in the boat and moved back up to 8th place.

— Steve Bowman


VanDam second to limit - February 25, 2007, posted at 8:59 AM CST

VanDam has just finished his limit. He's got an estimated 9 pounds, 4 ounces for a 42-3 pound total. He didn't have his limit this quick on Day 2.

After a slow start on Day 1, building to a 20-pound bag on Day 2 and catching one of the early limits on Day 3, it appears as if VanDam is unstoppable.

While we may dream about catching 4- and 5-pounders to win the Classic in the last moments of the final day, the reality is most tournaments are won much differently.

For a blueprint, look no further than VanDam.

He's built momentum going into the final day. He had a slow start on Day 1, but it was still a good day. And by Day 2, he was taking what he learned and making it better.

With an early limit on Day 3, it appears as if his momentum just keeps growing.

****

We're a little surprised that the info has been slow in coming from Steve Kennedy's boat. I believe it was yesterday at about this time when he started smoking the catches in his little spot near the narrows.

He's in that same spot this morning. But at this point, he's only caught one keeper and he's slowly sliding down the standings.

We all know that won't last.

****

For the record and by the numbers.

The first hour of the day (7 a.m., to 8 a.m.) produced 25 catches, averaging 2 pounds a piece. But by 8 o'clock, all those catches were shared by only eight of the 25 anglers.

— Steve Bowman


Ike has first limit of day - February 25, 2007, posted at 8:39 AM CST

Mike Iaconelli isn't wasting any time. He's posted the first limit of the day, all caught from the southern end of Lay Lake in Paint Creek.

Currently he has about 9 pounds and it's moved him into fifth place.

In other action, our man Terry "Mac" McWilliams is back in the top five at third place. He's zeroed in on a limit, but right now he has three that weigh almost 9 pounds. That's a nice average.

Duckett and VanDam are at the top of the board. Duckett has four for about 10 pounds, and VanDam has three fish at 4 pounds, 11 ounces.

Things seem to be progressing slowly, considering the fast start of Duckett and Rojas.

— Steve Bowman


Hey, Dean Rojas came to the Classic - February 25, 2007, posted at 8:16 AM CST

The final day of the Bassmaster Classic is all about dreams. You know the kind where you dream of making the ultimate catch, where the odds are completely against you but in your dream you're victorious.

That dream of getting a hit with the bases loaded. If you haven't had that dream at some time in your life, go back to sleep.

For those of you who know what I'm talking about, Dean Rojas is living that dream right now. He's followed that 5-pounder caught right off the bat with a 4-pounder. In the span of some 12 minutes, he jumped from 18th all the way to second then third. And he's working on a 4 1/2-pound average.

Meanwhile, he's got all of us television folks in a little bit of dither. There's no cameraman with Rojas and the last thing we want to have happen is to not have coverage of an angler making a charge.

We're working on it.

****

The phone just rang, there's a camera on Rojas. Great. Plus we get other info as well.

Rojas is catching his fish on a jerkbait, which has the ability to produce a big sack in February in just about any fishery in the country.

****

Of our top 8 anglers, they are all on the tote board, except Skeet Reese.

1. Boyd Duckett 38-5 (3 fish, 7 pounds)
2. Kevin VanDam 35-10 (2 fish, 2-11)
3. Dean Rojas 34-00 (2 fish, 9-9)
4. Terry McWilliams 33-12 (2 fish, 5-15)
5. Skeet Reese 32-06 (no fish)
6. Terry Scroggins 31-15 (1 fish, 1-0)
7. Jeff Kriet 30-00 (4 fish, 6-0)
8. Mike McClelland 29-14 (2 fish, 3-06)

— Steve Bowman


Duckett back on top at beginning of Day 3 - February 25, 2007, posted at 7:29 AM CST

It didn't take Boyd Duckett long to get started this morning.

He took off at about 7 a.m., and by 7:09 a.m., he had a 3-pounder in the boat. And just like that is in the lead of the Bassmaster Classic on the final day.

It's a long day, though. Skeet Reese, Randy Howell and Terry "Mac" McWilliams are still running.

Steve Kennedy followed a few minutes later with his own keeper, moving him to fifth.

We like fast starts, they often indicate a game that will be full of action from the opening minutes to the final moments. It was a lot like that yesterday. But this blog failed to notice or get the information that Timmy Horton had boated a big keeper in the final few minutes and that Gerald Swindle had done the same.

We pledge to do better. Already we're working at it.

In the time it took to write those lines, Duckett has boated another keeper, this one a 2-pounder. And Dean Rojas has scored a 5-pounder. The complexion of the top five has completely changed.

— Steve Bowman


Final Standings for Day 2 (Official) - February 24, 2007, posted at 7:28 PM

The top 25 qualifiers that have made it to Day 3 of the Bassmaster Classic:

1 Kevin VanDam 19-14
2 Skeet Reese 14-14
3 Terry Scroggins 13-15
4 Boyd Duckett 10-15
5 Timmy Horton 12- 6
6 Gary Klein 17- 5
7 Steve Kennedy 16- 7
8 Tommy Biffle 11-11
9 Terry McWilliams 12- 4
10 Randy Howell 9- 9
11 Ishama Monroe 12- 5
12 Kevin Wirth 12- 8
13 Aaron Martens 13- 2
14 Mike McClelland 14- 3
15 Michael Iaconelli 11- 6
16 Alton Jones 12- 3
17 Mike Wurm 10- 8
18 Dean Rojas 11- 3
19 Jared Lintner 10- 0
20 Jeff Kriet 11- 6
21 Jason Quinn 12-15
21 James Niggemeyer 10- 8
23 Royce Dennington 13-13
24 Todd Faircloth 11- 4
25 Russ Lane 8-10

— Matt Barnette


Gerald Swindle Disqualified From Classic - February 24, 2007, posted at 3:32 PM

The biggest Holy Cow of all comes after the fishing is done.

Gerald Swindle has been disqualified.

Add that one to the files that anything can happen at the Bassmaster Classic. Swindle, who was slated as a sure-nuff favorite in this event, had one of the biggest brain farts of all time today.

Judging by the video I watched, Swindle was boating up river, came up on Randy Howell with a small flotilla of spectators. He slows down, makes a hand signal to Howell on which direction he should boat, may have actually got a hand wave and the G-Man showers down and runs through the flotilla.

And he passed extremely close. Close enough to be deemed unsafe by a lot of folks.

That's all it took. Weldon pulled the trigger, for which you have to admire the tournament director for maintaining a high level of accountability among the anglers.

Of course, I'm good friends with Swindle. I hate this for him. And I know in the end the biggest thing it will cost him is a bunch of embarrassment and a little bit of hurt pride. He'll get over it.

Just look at it this way. The last guy disqualified from a Classic went on to win the Angler of the Year.

— Steve Bowman


Gerald Swindle Disqualified From Classic - February 24, 2007, posted at 3:20 PM

Trip Weldon just had a press conference here at the Classic announcing that Gerald Swindle's day 2 catch has been disqualified due to "unsafe boating" and some other infractions. We'll have a story here in a few minutes with quotes from Swindle's wife just taken moments ago. Stay tuned.

— Matt Barnette


Kevin VanDam is back in business and ready to win.- February 24, 2007, posted at 2:16 PM

Kevin VanDam is producing once again for the home team, as in my home Fantasy Team. Thanks Kev. You too Duckett and Kennedy.

Enough about that. VanDam is back in the top five. Looks like he may have the heaviest stringer of the day at 17 pounds, 2 ounces, which gives him a total of 30-3, just 3 pounds behind Biffle.

And just based on how these things have taken place the last three seasons, with the exception of maybe one or two shifts, our standings are getting pretty close to what they will be.

With that said, this Classis is certainly shaping up to be one for the books.

Biffle in first, Ishama in second, VanDam in third, the local hotshot Duckett in fourth and Skeet in fifth. Below that it just gets better, with Kennedy, Scroggins, Howell, Kevin Wirth, even our boy Terry McWilliams is in the mix.

****

The reason that top 10 is so important. If you've been watching the weather, then you are aware of a big storm pushing across the south. It's smoking my house in Arkansas right now. This big red sucker is headed straight to Birmingham.

The good thing about it is it will be hitting us tonight and be through by take off tomorrow. But this storm will change a lot of things.

For starters, the night's temperature is forecast to be in the upper 50s. That's a positive thing. Water temps are driven more by night time temps than day-time temps, so maybe we'll see an increase in the number of fish
moving shallow.

But it could also bring a ton of mud of into play. I don't know what it's like after a rain around Birmingham, but in places around Arkansas those backwaters and little creeks will turn to mud. In some places, the runoff will be clear. And from where I'm from, that could mean a school of big fish packing into one little stream of runoff.

Both of those together could mean the top of the leaderboard could fall, and some from the bottom could rush up. That's the way we like our Classics, unpredictable to the last moment.

The top anglers have said from the start, this tournament will be won by the guy who best adapts to the conditions. They just weren't counting on these to be part of the choices.

EDIT: One of Boat/Motor friends dropped by to remind us that Tommy Biffle's reported motor mishap on take-off Friday really wasn't a motor issue.

It was a fuel issue.

You pick the refinery you want to blame that one on.

— Steve Bowman


Ish will sneak up on you, if you let him. - February 24, 2007, posted at 1:23 PM CST

Another "Holy Cow" coming up.

Ishama Monroe, who has basically been in the boondocks all day (another out-of-sight, out-of-mind angler), just checked in a big way.

His limit reportedly totals 16 pounds, 5 ounces, moving him into second place and cutting Biffle's lead to 2 pounds.

We have no idea where he is or what he may doing. We do know when the anglers go to the extreme southern end of the lake, our coverage begins to suffer. And that's a kind way of putting it.

But if Monroe continues to make moves like this one, he won't be able to hide.

****

Speaking of hiding, Biffle is doing a pretty good job of that. We put fearless and intrepid reported Byron Velvick on his path a few hours ago. Watching from our eye in the sky Bass Trakker, it was a great big cat-and-mouse game.

Velvick never found him and this isn't the biggest river in the world. It didn't help that Biffle's track every once in a while would just take off across terra firma. There were times you would swear "that guy ran aground and kept going."

That wasn't too far from the truth. We finally got smart and start using Google Earth to finetune the actual terrain around Biffle's location. Sure enough, he's made his way into a little ditch that doesn't even show up on the map.

That's vintage Biffle. I'll give you the name of the ditch later. If he keeps going, it could be renamed Biffle's Hideout.

****

If you are into comparing days, check out these comparisons from Day One.

At 1 p.m. on Day 1, five anglers had caught more than 17 pounds.

At 1 p.m. on Day 2, the only angler even near 17 pounds is Biffle with 16-10 and Ishama Monroe with 16-5.

At 1 p.m. on Day 1, there were 29 limits reported.

On Day 2, there were 27 limits reported.

Don't know what any of that means, but it's interesting to compare.

— Steve Bowman


Mid-day notes: Rojas, Evers & Clunn, Biffle and being on "The Bubble." - February 24, 2007, posted at 12:57 PM CST

Dean Rojas is back in play. To interpret that correctly, you have to realize that up until a few minutes ago, Rojas could have been sitting in a coffee shop somewhere and we wouldn't have known the difference.

He's been one of our no shows on Bass Trakk. But we did get a call into his cameraman, who told us he's got a limit totaling 11 pounds, which would place him from out-of-sight and out-of-mind all the way to the top 10.

I watched some of Rojas' tape yesterday, so I know he's using your basic drop bait type of stuff. If he comes in and starts talking about catching them on his topwater frog, I'm going to flip him around enough to skin up his knees and elbows.

But I have to be honest, it wouldn't surprise me if he actually did catch one on a frog.

****

Watching the tracks of this event, it's that time of day where you can't keep up with anybody. The lake is a beehive of activity, with anglers going point to point, cut to cut, hoping for that perfect timing where their casts will meet up with kicker fish.

Some of those moves are designed, others are from desperation. After all, this isl desperation day. Making the top 25 is important to at least half the field, I guess.

Right now, those on the bubble for that honor are Derek Remitz in 23rd with 20-15, Jeff Reynolds in 24th with 20-11, Jared Lintner in 25th with 19-6.

Notables currently below the cut:
Edwin Evers (31st)
Rick Clunn (32nd)

****

Biffle keeps turning up the heat. He's added a 4-pounder to his limit, culling up to 33-5 and a more than 4-pound lead.

That doesn't bode well for a lot of guys. He still has more than two hours left, enough time for him to most certainly run across another head in the 4-pound or heavier.

— Steve Bowman


Lay Lake is 80 percent fun - February 24, 2007, posted at 12:00 PM

You have to be impressed with Lay Lake. This isn't our first time here. In two past Classics, I know we never saw the type production we're seeing in these first two days.

I can remember my lead paragraph when George Cochran won here. I was writing for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at the time, obviously pulling for Cochran.

My lead the day he won went something like:

"Once again when the Classic was at its worst, George Cochran was at his best."

Forgive me for not being Rainman and spewing out numbers from those past Classics. Just trust me, compared to what's taking place here this week, that was a struggle. Of course, they were summer events. But they were virtually our only impressions of this fishery.

The way I figure it, a 10-pound day is pretty good day of fishing. That holds true all over the country. It may not win tournaments every where, but five fish that weigh 10 pounds is a pretty good day.

Friday, basically the top 40 had 10 pounds or more. That's like 80 percent fun. Only four anglers failed to catch a limit.

And halfway through the action Saturday, more than 20 anglers have caught a limit, most of them averaging 10 pounds.

It may not be Amistad. But nothing is.

Lay Lake deserves a lot of kudos. Sounds like it sure beats the hell out of watching a computer screen.

— Steve Bowman


Biffle back on top after a weird first day - February 24, 2007, posted at 11:31 AM

The changes just keep rolling in. I wish I would have included Tommy Biffle in my plodder entry a few places back. I should have, I was thinking it, just didn't do it.

I would have certainly felt like a visionary if I had.

Since then, Biffle has taken over the lead, thanks in large part to his fifth fish of the day, that checks in at a reported 5 pounds. Look out.

Those are the kinds of fish dreams are made of, and just the thing we've come to expect over the years from Biffle.

He's another angler with the Classic monkey on his back. We remember a few times when he was so close on the James River and High Rock. Before Aaron Martens became the bridesmaid of today, Biffle had that title for several years.

Now he's back. Maybe renewed a bit. A 5-pounder can do that for you.

Biffle currently has a reported 32 pounds, 5 ounces, more than 3 pounds over Boyd Duckett in second. And Biffle is the king of the plodders. He'll keep plugging away. And with a 15-pound, 10-ounce stringer in the boat, he knows what to do to catch another kicker.

If that right bite comes, he can start shaking monkeys real quick.

At 11:15 a.m.

— Steve Bowman


Love him or Hate him — Ike can catch 'em - February 24, 2007, posted at 10:56 AM CST

In the constantly changing world of watching leaderboards, this little item confused us.

Mike Iaconelli is sitting there with a zero. That may give some a little comfort. It gave us a little pause. Iaconelli, love or hate him, can catch them.

It's no different today. That crazy Yankee has already busted a limit. But what we don't know is what they will weigh. If they come anywhere over the average 10-pounds of the basic Lay Lake limit, then he's moved into the top 10 with room to spare.

Hopefully we will get that update soon.

While we're on the subject of Ike, you won't want to miss these two pieces of video from his Angler of the Year speech Thursday night.

You owe it to yourself, regardless of how you feel about the man, to watch these two flicks. You don't even have to watch him, you should just listen. Although, Ike in a suit and tie is a pretty powerful image.

Video Michael Iaconelli's Angler of the Year Award Acceptance Speech

Video Michael Iaconelli's Angler of the Year Award Acceptance Speech

— Steve Bowman


As the Wurm turns - February 24, 2007, posted at 10:45 AM CST

Mike Wurm is making a little move. We hardly heard anything from him Friday, one of the hazards of relying on technology.

He wound up in 12th place, with us thinking he was close to last all day.

Some of us, though, knew Wurm wasn't going to stay there. He's one of the most versatile anglers in the Classic, so it didn't make sense he wasn't recording any catches. The only excuse had to be he was so far in the boonies, he would have had to send smoke signals to get a message to us.

The weigh-in proved that. Today Wurm is making his way toward the top of the leaderboard. Just a few minutes ago, he moved into the top five. Then Skeet Reese added to his weight and bumped him down to a tie for fifth with Gary Klein.

We can't resist saying it: "Maybe the Wurm has turned."

— Steve Bowman


Uh-oh…KVD decided to show up - February 24, 2007, posted at 10:08 AM CST

Chalk this one up to the Holy Cow file.

Kevin VanDam was a virtual no-show Friday. He wound up in 19th place with a late surge. Evidently, it took him a while to figure things out.

He didn't forget much today. In the last hour he's putting together the kind of push we expect out of VanDamage.

Right now, he's got a limit totaling almost 13 pounds. That's put him near the top of the leaderboard.

Something makes us want to say, "it ain't a Classic until KVD makes a move."

Now that we are officially in the Classic, look out for KVD. And that statement has nothing to do with the fact that he's the captain of our Fantasy Fishing team.

— Steve Bowman


Gary Klein is gonna try this whole Classic thing again - February 24, 2007, posted at 10:05 AM CST

Right as we sent our last entry, Gary Klein jumped in the mix. He went from practically out of sight somewhere around 30th to second place.

Catching one of the first limits of the day will do that for you. As much as we would love to see Klein get the Classic monkey off his back, we still think he's got a long way to go, unless of course he can talk everyone into quitting anytime soon.

Still, it's nice to see Klein making a run. We're covering our 19th Classic and have practically grown up with this guy.

Maybe he can step it up a notch.

The reality is you have to watch the plodders in this race. Those are the guys who will slowly and precisely build a big sack. Basically the two best examples of that are Randy Howell and Skeet Reese.

They are catching footballs, almost all of them identical. Boyd Duckett had a monster day Friday, but that was with an 8-pounder in the mix. It's going to be hard, not impossible, but hard to repeat that production.

Meanwhile, the plodders, wacking those 3-pound-plus fish, will slowly overtake the field.

Of course, that's just one take. After all, this is the Classic and a bass tournament to boot. That means anything can and probably will happen to make the rest of us look like we don't know a thing about this sport.

— Steve Bowman


Steve Kennedy is a sick man with a smart plan - February 24, 2007, posted at 9:37 AM CST

One of the neat things about watching Bass Trakk is being able to see locations of the anglers.

This particular event is revolving around the current produced by the Lay Lake Dam and the Logan Martin Dam. Moving water puts fish in a position to be caught. And it's paying off for several of the leaders.

Take the current away and Randy Howell and Skeet Reese flounder, maybe. What's particularly noteworthy this morning is those two are fishing below the Logan Martin Dam and the rush of water it produces.

Those on the lower end are utilizing the water movement created by the pull of water going through the Lay Lake Dam. Concentrating on one or the other is a good plan.

But just watching the action and trying to analyze information, I like Steve Kennedy's plan so much better.

He was the first one to catch a limit this morning and it would be easy to assume, that besides being a great angler, the reason for that is his location.

Just a cursory glance shows him at the Narrows, a pinched down section of the Coosa River. So pinched down that the lake, which averages almost a half-mile wide, is only about 200 yards wide in that area.

What happens is, the water being pushed out of Logan Martin stacks up above there, gets pulled through the gap by the Lay Lake Dam, and Kennedy gets to take advantage of both dams.

Pretty savvy thinking. It's obviously paying off.

— Steve Bowman


Kennedy! - February 24, 2007, posted at 8:50 AM CST

The first limit of the day has been captured by Steve Kennedy.

We all knew that at some point, Kennedy would start becoming a factor in this event, we just expected it a little earlier. The poor guy has been suffering from the flu bug and spent a good part of Friday yakking his breakfast. Some might refer to it as chumming.

Evidently, today he's feeling a lot better. His limit, weighing in at only about 9 pounds, has pushed him up to the No. 2 spot, behind Mac.

****

The most interesting fact of the hour: Timmy Horton's little surge to jump on top this morning came on one cast. He actually caught those two keepers on the same cast.

— Steve Bowman


Big Mac likes bright lights and chicken wings - February 24, 2007, posted at 8:11 AM CST

The latest hero has to be Terry McWilliams. This guy is amazing.

Never mind that he is a Federation Nation angler, he finished Day One in seventh place. He walked off the stage in a fairly-full Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, with all the bright lights and cameras flashing.

He had to go to the press room, where despite the fact that there were chicken wings and sandwiches offered freely, there was a microphone or an ugly writer with a pen and pad in his hand asking him questions.

It's normally at that point when an amateur realizes all of the sudden the mess he's gotten himself in. After that point, most will drop like flies from the top of the standings. The pressure is too much.

Obviously, McWilliams doesn't plan on going away quietly. He's currently in second place with an estimated total of 20 pounds, 9 ounces.

We're still crazy enough to root for this guy, even if he's not on our fantasy team. We're even giving him our own nickname of "Mac." It has a certain bourgeois quality to it.

EDIT: Even while writing this entry, Mac is hard at work.

At 7:56 a.m., he took the lead with an estimated weight of 23-14. He's boated four keepers today, for about 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

— Steve Bowman


Who's catching them this morning? - February 24, 2007, posted at 8:01 AM CST

Boyd Duckett and Timmy Horton didn't waste much time getting down to business this morning.

The two leaders were actually the first ones to post catches. Friday, Duckett started the day with the first catch and ended up in first.

Today, it's Horton. He banged out two keepers so fast you would have thought they were jumping in his boat.

Of course, Duckett answered with his own keeper almost immediately and the leaderboard started shifting around. All of this in the first few minutes of action

It wasn't long before the rest of the anglers got into the action.

— Steve Bowman


The unofficial Top Ten - February 23, 2007, posted at 4:38 PM CST

Fishing is over and the anglers are all backstage ready to weigh in, which you can watch live here.

Regardless, we've been tracking the Top Five all day and are here to present you now with our completely unofficial observer estimate Top Ten. It may be fun to go back and see what actually happened as opposed to what was estimated by our Bass Trakker.

So, without further ado...

THE UNOFFICIAL BASSMASTER CLASSIC TOP 10:
#1: Randy Howell 19-00

#2: Boyd Duckett 17-14

#3: Tommy Biffle 17-10

#4: Timmy Horton 17-00

#4: Terry Scroggins 17-00

#6: Ishama Monroe 16-05

#7: Russ Lane 14-05

#8: Skeet Reese 14-04

#8: Terry McWilliams 14-04

#10: Aaron Martens 13-12

and if you're curious Mike Iaconelli is pulling the caboose in 11th place.

See you guys after the LIVE Weigh-In, which is happening....now. We'll start blogging again first thing tomorrow morning at 7 AM CST.

EDIT — ACTUAL RESULTS:

1 Boyd Duckett 5 Fish 19-14
2 Randy Howell 5 Fish 17-15
3 Skeet Reese 5 Fish 17- 8
4 Timmy Horton 5 Fish 17- 5
5 Terry Scroggins 5 Fish 17- 0
6 Tommy Biffle 5 Fish 16-11
7 Terry McWilliams 5 Fish 15- 9
8 Ishama Monroe 5 Fish 15- 0
9 Gerald Swindle 5 Fish 14-10
10 Kevin Wirth 5 Fish 14- 9

— Matt Barnette


Fishing is over. Let's weigh 'em in - February 23, 2007, posted at 3:22 PM CST

Here's what we know right now. We can see the tracks of the boats making their way in. First flight comes in at 3 p.m., the second is due at 3:20 p.m.

As they come in, we will start to see a shake-up in the standings as some of these tracking units start getting dependable service.

We've already seen a couple of moves.

Ish Monroe appeared to be floundering all day. Nnow he's in the top 10 with an estimated 16 pounds. And we expect there will be others.

Steve Kennedy, who has been in the 9-pound range all day, now has about 13 pounds. If you know Kennedy, that could really mean 15 — he's always the "aw shucks, not much kind of guy."

Then considering that, there's been about 40 limits caught, and Kevin VanDam isn't one of them, but we surely feel we will see some change with that. (Actually, I hope. He's on my fantasy team.) When's the last time VanDam didn't catch a limit, especially on a day when more than 80 percent of the field did.

Of the current top 10, you've got an hometown boy (Howell), an Open Series angler (Duckett), an angler with a Classic monkey on his back (Biffle), a couple of West Coasters (Monroe and Reese) and a Federation Nation angler (McWilliams).

It already is shaping up to be pretty danged awesome.

Thirty minutes after the final check-in we will update with a completely unofficial top 10.

— Steve Bowman


Howell catchin' them where they aren't - February 23, 2007, posted at 2:56 PM CST

Randy Howell keeps pouring on the coals. Just a few minutes ago, he boated another 3-pound-plus keeper.

His estimated and unofficial total is 19 pounds. Again, Holy Cow!

The interesting thing about Howell's primary spot, besides the fact that it looks familiar, is that if Alabama Power isn't generating power, that spot is dry ground.

— Steve Bowman


The catch according to Wes - February 23, 2007, posted at 2:52 PM CST

One of the best cameramen in the business is Wes Miller. He's one of the guys who brings all the great scenes from these events to the Bassmaster Television Show.

He's been doing this a long time. That's why we have to listen to him.

A few minutes ago, Wes called. "Iaconelli just caught a 5-pounder. He's got about 16 pounds."

Interesting. Again the plot thickens.

But as an example of how fickle our information is, our trusty observer keyed in the catch and weight as a 4-pounder and a total of 13 pounds.

It's anybody's guess. But we're going with Wes' estimation, we have to. We work with the guy.

— Steve Bowman


Kerchal, part II? - February 23, 2007, posted at 2:45 PM CST

We have to send some kudos out to Terry McWilliams. That guy is representing the Federation Nation in tremendous fashion. Way to go, Mac! Strike a blow for all us bass clubbers.

McWilliams, out of the Cataract Hawg Stickers in Indiana, seems to be seeing something pretty good. He's in eighth during the writing of this entry.

He lists his strengths as shallow-water. Maybe that's a clue, maybe not. You can check out his profile here.

Either way, for those of us who witnessed Bryan Kerchal's magic, we're just a little bit excited that we might get to see it again.

— Steve Bowman


Forget the Number 23, Dean has The Number 40 - February 23, 2007, posted at 2:32 PM CST

We can't pass this one up, especially for those superstitious types.

We've been paying particular attention to Dean Rojas this week. As always Rojas is capable. But that's not why we've been watching him.

Some of us are superstitious and Rojas is Boat 40 for this event.

How does that figure?

A few weeks ago, the Weekend Series was won by Russell Colwell. And if you watched that event at all, you know Colwell had no business winning. He caught them, so you can't take that away from him. But he brought six fish to the scales and had his biggest thrown out.

Lucky sucker, won any way.

The boat he was in? You guessed it, 40.

Then the week before that, Royce Dennington won the Federation Nation event out of Boat 40. There's even a rumor that the Junior World Championship may have been won out of Boat 40.

So you have to wonder about Rojas. To make things a little more interesting, as this entry is being written (2:15 p.m.) Dean Rojas is in 13th place. Ouch!

— Steve Bowman


Randy must have been watching the '02 Classic tapes - February 23, 2007, posted at 2:07 PM CST

The hottest hour of the day thus far goes to the 10-11 a.m. hour.

While the rest of us were slamming down ham sandwiches and ice-cold RC Cola, our fearless anglers were stacking up the heads.

In that hour, 59 fish were caught. Sorry we don't know which ones were keepers or not. But it shows a hot hour any way.

That compares to the first hour of the day (7 to 8), which only produced 31 fish. And the worst hour so far? That would be 1 p.m., to 2 p.m. A whopping four fish were caught by 1:49 p.m.

Makes one think the Alabama Power generation schedule is a little off. Generation was supposed to run until 2 p.m.

Who would have ever believed they wouldn't follow a schedule?

For those who don't know, we're being sarcastic as hell. We have a talent for that.

****

The most interesting note to come from this hour. The tapes of Randy Howell's day are starting to make it into the edit mix. Surprise, surprise, but it seems (and this is purely on minimal video evidence) but Howell may be catching at least part of his stringer in the same place Jay Yelas caught his in 2002.

One other tidbit: The estimations of Howell's fish may be a little off. Given the penchant for observers/anglers to exaggerate, we'll leave it to you to decide which way those weights might actually fall.

— Steve Bowman


Howell is back in first and Duckett is a steal in Fantasy - February 23, 2007, posted at 1:45 PM CST

It's that time of day when the numbers are coming in so fast it can be mind boggling.

Randy Howell is leading. Boyd Duckett is in second, solidifying himself as the best value ever in Fantasy Fishing at a measly four points. Think of all the points fantasy players could be racking up right about now.

But just to update, at this point 31 anglers have caught five-fish limits. That's with a couple of them so far in the boonies we haven't received a signal from them at all. Could be more limits in those no-shows.

And those limits seem to be hefty. Five of them are estimated at more than 17 pounds, and more than 20 with 10 pounds plus.

There's still a little time left. But obviously, the fishing is pretty impressive.

It's interesting to note, Randy Howell and Greg Hackney (with an estimated 9 pounds) have both said all week: "The best fishing will begin on Saturday."

>From the pundit's chair, that can only bring out a "Holy Cow."

— Steve Bowman


Timmy isn't tops, but 4 out of 6 Alabamians are - February 23, 2007, posted at 1:14 PM CST

The latest Top Five came in and even though the stat is that no one has ever won the Classic in their home state … it sure looks like the odds are in the hometown boy's collective favor. Four out of the top six on Lay Lake are from Alabama, and it doesn't look like they're going to go anywhere if they don't want to. Boyd Duckett is holding down first with Randy Howell, Timmy Horton (at a much less impressive than 21 lbs. bag of 17 even) and early favorite Russ Lane pulling up the rear.

— Matt Barnette


Timmy is tops, at least for the time being - February 23, 2007, posted at 12:09 AM CST

The rumor around the water was that Timmy Horton had three fish and had a rough estimate of 21 pounds. We did a little more research and found out that Timmy has actually limited out, and is tied for first with 17 lbs. 10 oz. with Tommy Biffle, leaving the rest of the pack in his pounds of dust. We hear the gossip flying around, but we like facts.

Keep checking back for both throughout the day and know that the unofficial TOP FIVE page is here for you in the meantime to keep you updated on what's what here at the 2007 Bassmaster Classic.

EDIT: Word from the water is Boyd Duckett, another Alabamaian and the first angler to catch a fish in the 2007 Classic has just jumped to second place from out of nowhere with 17 lbs.

— Matt Barnette


Biffle pouring on the heat - February 23, 2007, posted at 11:53 AM CST

He's gone from a engine breakdown to being the early favorite to break his bank account, and Tommy Biffle is pouring on the heat according to the Bass Trakker observers.

It's an unofficial observer's estimate, but at the moment he's on the top of our leaderboard with a commanding 17 pounds, 10 ounces, nearly three pounds more than his closest follower Terry Scroggins.

As the water heats up on Lay Lake, we're getting more and more input that nearly every angler out there is "on 'em" at the moment … but there are a few notable exceptions to that — the most notable being Kevin VanDam, who is currently holding in second-to-last place with 2-8.

Keep checking the unofficial standings at our TOP FIVE page.

— Matt Barnette


West Side is the best … no, East side is the best - February 23, 2007, posted at 11:30 AM CST

As an example of how quickly the tide can swing, earlier today the majority of the catches of the leaders were coming from the Spring Creek to Paint Creek area.

That's from the mid to lower-lake area. But since Tommy Biffle and Randy Howell have started making moves, the upper end of Lay Lake has started to become a factor. All Classic fans will recall how critical that area was in 2002 when Jay Yelas won.

With Biffle and Howell making a move, can the upper end be the winning area once again?

— Steve Bowman


A note about the UNOFFICIAL TOP FIVE - February 23, 2007, posted at 10:57 AM CST

One thing we have to be aware of with the Bass Trakk is that there are some anglers constantly moving. With those moves, they go in and out of service.

All our reported results are completely unofficial. To make that point, we haven't received one bit of information from Peter Thliveros, Mike Wurm or Kevin Wirth, all three Elite Series anglers and more than capable of having a huge sack hidden in their live wells.

But even from an unofficial standpoint, getting these results and just pondering sure is a lot of fun. Check out the Unofficial Top Five here.

— Steve Bowman


Randy Howell making this his kind of party - February 23, 2007, posted at 10:49 AM CST

Randy Howell is now on the hot seat. At 10:30 a.m., he boated his fifth keeper to give him a 12 1/2-pound estimated total and the lead.

Russ Lane and Terry Scroggins are now in second with an estimated 12 pounds.

But there are some anglers down the standings making moves. Michael Iaconelli has limited and moved to sixth place, tied with Lee Bailey, who limited at virtually the same time.

The limits are starting to pile up, too. As many as 15 anglers have finished their limits, the smallest of those by Derek Remitz at an estimated 6-10.

EDIT: Biffle seems to have recovered from a rough start. His motor blew a power head on the take-off. But a quick switch of boats, an obvious gathering of mental fortitude and he's on his way.

— Steve Bowman


How quickly things change - February 23, 2007, posted at 10:27 AM CST

How quickly things can change in Bassmaster Classic competition.

About the time we had a race between Jeff Reynolds and Russ Lane, Terry Scroggins jumps in and upsets the apple cart a bit.

Scroggins busted four quick keepers, including a 4-pounder and two 3-pounders. With his fourth fish, he has an estimated 12 pounds. And Gary Klein has almost 11 pounds with just three keepers.

The plot thickens.

— Steve Bowman


Technology great, when it works - February 23, 2007, posted at 9:19 AM CST

We're having a love-hte relationship with technology.

You have to love all the wires, blinking lights and electrodes that allow us to have things like this web site and the ability to track anglers on Lay Lake from the comfort of a cushy chair. But dang it all, when it doesn't work, you can definitely hate it.

Take Russ Lane for example. His Bass Trakk unit is the same as every other angler, except the battery went dead sometime after take-off.

Lane, though, was smoking them in the first 30 minutes of the day. He boated the first limit, with a 4-pounder as a kicker and by 8 a.m. had at least 12 pounds.

So much for the hometown jinx. At 9 a.m., he and Jeff Reynolds are in a neck and neck race with the only recorded limits of the day with 12 pounds apiece. Of course, technology not withstanding, those are decidedly unofficial results

— Steve Bowman


Tommy Biffle already on his second boat - February 23, 2007, posted at 8:49 AM CST

The Bassmaster Classic started and stopped quickly for veteran angler Tommy Biffle, who was hit almost immediately upon launch time with engine failure at the dock.

He took it in stride and was moved to a spare boat, but the delay put him about 15 minutes behind all other anglers.

— Matt Barnette


Terry McWilliams runs away with Classic - February 23, 2007, posted at 7:56 AM CST

No sooner than we think Boyd Duckett is the man and Terry McWilliams our Federation Nation friend gives us shades of hope of another Bryan Kerchal-like Championship.

McWilliams jumped into the lead at 7:35 a.m., when he boated a 3-pounder, giving him 4 pounds, 8 ounces and the glorious lead of the Bassmaster Classic.

It lasted all of two minutes. But hey, how many people can say they led the Classic?

Alton Jones was the guy who burst the bubble.

— Steve Bowman


Boyd Duckett runs away with Classic - February 23, 2007, posted at 7:46 AM CST

Bass Trakk is one of the fascinating pieces of technology available to all the talking heads on the television side of the Bassmaster Classic.

It's basically a GPS tracking unit with the ability to record catches, even weights. You look at a map, watch the little dots that serve as anglers move from one creek to the next and see how they rack up the catches.

Pretty cool stuff.

It also gives you information you were never able to gather before. For instance, how's this for a headline:

Boyd Duckett runs away with Bassmaster Classic.

It's not necessarily the case. But at the earliest points of Day One, it was happening.

Duckett has the honor of catching the first "recorded' fish of this event. He boated a whopping 1-pound, 2-ounce fish at 7:08 a.m., creating a small buzz around television headquarters that Duckett was indeed running away with it. They were all jokes of course. But it was fun and nice to see even television producers occasionally have a sense of humor.

Duckett, though, didn't stay on top long. Edwin Evers bumped him at 7:13 a.m. with a 2-pound keeper. At 7:19 a.m., Duckett struck back with his own 2-pounder, giving him 3 pounds, 8 ounces for the first 20 minutes.

After that it started getting a little hazy, within 2 minutes six more anglers had boated keepers, including Federation Nation qualifier Terry McWilliams. He enjoyed a tie for second for at least 10 minutes.

— Steve Bowman