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2011 Bassmaster Classic live blog


Editor's note: To get more liveliness out of the live blog, refresh your page.

4:12PM ET

With all the anglers heading back and no time for last-minute heroics, it looks like this day is drawing to a close.

PHOTO GALLERY

OTW gallery

Unofficially, KVD looks to have captured his fourth Classic victory. Aaron Martens appears to have finished second, again.

Underneath all that, the promised stringers for this day look really amazing. Not only were we introduced to a "log donkey," it appears as if they will be several of them marching across the stage today in a show of force that should convince even the most skeptic of critics that the Louisiana Delta is an amazing place.

If this were election night, we would have to call this one in favor of KVD. But we can't be completely sure. The acceptance speech promises to be pretty special for whomever wins.

As for the little war room by the lake, we're shutting this puppy down and headed to the weigh-in. We don't want to miss a single fish.

Thanks for all of those who joined us for the last five days of this blog.

Thanks for all the comments, the positive ones were nice. The negative ones gave us some ideas and some of them simply made us laugh.

-- Steve Bowman


3:54PM ET

And Aaron Martens catches another 5, culling him up a pound or more.

That report comes from cameraman Wes Miller. BASSTrakk still hasn't updated and is unofficial.

But we're getting real close to this being over. Last-minute heroics will be just that, last minute.

BASSTrakk did just update to show that he stands only 9 ounces behind VanDam.

Martens began Day Three 8 pounds, 9 ounces behind and made up the poundage.

Will all the estimated weights of these fish, could he have the ounces?

-- Steve Bowman


3:46PM ET

Aaron Martens is determined to get second place. Not long after Derek jumps him, Aaron boats a 6-pounder and he's moving back over.

Can you believe the number of 5-pound-plus fish that are being caught in this event today?

The Delta is simply amazing.

Aaron has two 4-pound fish in his livewell. He has to add another 8 pounds, assuming KVD isn't adding to his.

That means two 8-pounders. I'm not going to say it's not going to happen. I'm already blown away by what is happening with him and Remitz.

Then we hear from KVD and he's adding to his weight.

I feel almost certain that if 30 pounds doesn't happen for someone, a couple of folks could scare the hell out of it.

The record that Luke Clausen set on Toho has been broken since early this morning. It's going down in flames at this point and by more than one angler.

-- Steve Bowman


3:37PM ET

Derek Remitz keeps squeaking up the ladder. His last fish, a 5-pounder, gives him 27, almost 28, pounds. His smallest fish is an almost 3-pounder. Another in the 6-pound range and he's knocking on the door.

If VanDam has 22, then Remitz has to have 32. A 7-pounder would do that. But we're sitting here looking at the photos from his day. Those credited as 3 and even 4 pounds, seem to look a little heavier than that. They say the camera always adds 10 pounds. So maybe they are accurate. But he could have more as well.

Who knows?

Remitz's last fish jumps him over Martens into second.

-- Steve Bowman


3:31PM ET

Last year at the Kentucky Lake Elite Series event, we put a small test camera on KVD's chest to see what we might be able to come up with in terms of a new look.

The test didn't create the things that television producers want to see. But as an angler I watched it mesmerized. The whole shot was nothing more than KVD's hands reeling the crankbait he was throwing all day.

I say "reeling" in loose terms. KVD doesn't reel anything. He works it all the way back by twisting and turning his wrists like he's fighting a controller on an X-Box.

Fascinating stuff to look at, even though without seeing the crankbait at the same time you have no idea why he does it and what the bait is doing.

Earlier in the day, Overstreet and Russow mentioned some of that in a blog. KVD obviously does something different. He's in the middle of the best anglers in the country and was able to distance himself once again.

I remember Rick Clunn used to talk about visualizing yourself as if you were the crankbait banging off the logs and tearing through grass. I thought at the time he was crazy.

KVD, though, undoubtedly has something like that going on in his head and he transfers movement to those baits in ways that can't be seen by anything but those green fish.

Unless you really pay attention to him while he's in a boat, you can't see what he's doing. He'll probably kill me for even bringing it up.

But when you sit here in this little war room for four days, you have to start thinking about the things that set him apart. Usually you can just say he's better at finding them. But everyone found them, everyone was in his back pocket and he was still able to produce in ways that were simply awe-inspiring.

One of these days the book "The Real Secrets of KVD" will be a best-seller. But he's obviously not giving anything up until at least AARP starts calling.

-- Steve Bowman


3:23PM ET

Aaron just acrobatically fought a 5-plus into the boat. He sprinted to the back of the boat and came up with a toad.

Talk about your never give up moments. He culled a decent fish.

Now Remitz is culling again. Not much time left and we are in the midst of a flurry of tremendous activity.

-- Pete Robbins


3:18PM ET

Longtime SEC football rivals Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama faced off today not on the field, but on the water. The two schools' bass fishing teams are competing in the Bassmaster College Classic on Louisiana's Lake Verret.

These conference rivals weigh in on the Bassmaster Classic stage today at 4:30 p.m. ET inside the New Orleans Arena. Be sure to tune in here.

Tune in to Super Dock dogs streaming live right now on Bassmaster.com.

-- Nathan Benson


3:15PM ET

The anglers in the Tank Pond are holding their positions and moving much less than they did earlier.

All except for Duckett, who has gone back to the other side of the bulkhead. It has become a common sight to see power poles halfway down, ready to be deployed.

There doesn't seem to be any panicking as the Classic winds down. Both rook and Remitz are culling deliberately after the Venice crew made their last casts.

-- Pete Robbins


3:10PM ET

As we watch BASSTrakk on the final day of the Bassmaster Classic, we see that Kevin VanDam is shaping up to be the Chuck Norris of bass fishing.

Here's our top 10:

• Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears KVD pajamas.

• KVD doesn't need to actually cast for fish, he simply goes to a river or lake and says: "You, you, you, you and you -- in the livewell!"

• KVD can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.

• When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for KVD.

• When KVD goes fishing, he doesn't need a fishing pole - he just stares at the water till the fish jump into his boat out of shear panic.

• KVD runs until the treadmill gets tired.

• They found KVD 's to-do list ... It is now known as The Guinness Book of World Records.

• KVD doesn't do push-ups. He pushes the world down.

• KVD once won an underwater breathing contest with a fish.

• KVD doesn't need to wait for a bite when he goes fishing; the fish know KVD doesn't like to wait.

-- Heidi Stanislawski/Fred Lalande


2:56PM ET

The Federation Nation always has an angler who shows out at the Classic. This year there are two.

The BASSTrakk is starting to update and currently we have two Fed Nat anglers in the top 10. Palaniuk, who has been dark all day, has a 16-pound limit that puts him in the top six area. Then Dale Hightower has a 17-pound limit and he's sitting in 8th place.

-- Steve Bowman


2:54PM ET

The latest BASSTrakk standings have Kevin VanDam with 22 pounds. Martens also is listed as having 22. Boyd Duckett is leading the field today with an estimated 25-plus.

These are unofficial. Weights will vary.


2:49PM ET

I may have pressed "send" too soon on that last entry. Rook just babied a four pounder into the boat. Every time we think we're out this area pulls us back in.

-- Pete Robbins


2:40PM ET

I hate to even say it or point it out. But that last fish put Aaron in his infamous second place, at least on BASSTrakk.

He already has three second-place finishes. Sort of ironic that if it stays the way it looks: KVD will win his fourth Classic, Aaron will have his fourth second.

-- Steve Bowman


2:44PM ET

We're in deadsville right now. If we didn't have boat driver Carl to keep us entertained with a little local color, it would be like watching paint dry. Combs caught a short fish -- yippee.

-- Pete Robbins


2:36PM ET

Funny things happen with coverage down here. Currently, on the BASSTrakk, KVD and Derek Remitz are red, which is one step away from being black. All of that means we're not getting much information from those two.

They must be close to each other in one of those wonderful little cell areas that just doesn't have a cell signal.

I'm sure they will eventually show up.

We are watching Aaron Martens, though. He just boated a 5-pounder, which puts him over the 20-pound mark. That makes at least five stringers today that are 20-pounds plus. Within those are at least three fish that will go over 7 pounds.

Still waiting to see what Derek's log donkey will weigh.

Again, the true star of this event has to be the Louisiana Delta.

-- Steve Bowman


2:34PM ET

Trey Reid reports in that Chapman is done and headed back in with one stop in front of him to gas up.

PHOTO GALLERY

OTW gallery

He's in the 16-pound range, nowhere near enough to catch KVD.

The only one who really can at the moment is Remitz, and that would rely completely on a log donkey or two. It's still possible and there is plenty of time.

Aaron Martens, though, finally started putting together another good day. He's at 19 pounds and change -- too little, too late. Iaconelli has 20 and he can't do it either.

Duckett has a strong sack, possibly the biggest of the tournament. But he sucked it up early on.

Overall, the weights for Day Three are much higher. I suspect that is a product of the conditions coupled with the fact that half the field is no longer out there sharing in catches.

As for KVD, it would be great to peek into his mind about now. He knows he's at 22-plus and what everyone else has to do to catch him. He's seen Remitz all day and has probably heard about Duckett. He has no idea about Chapman.

I bet there's part of him rehearsing his victory speech. Another part trying to figure out how he can squeeze the life out of the competition, now that he has a foot on their neck.

He's the nicest guy out there. But he's also the most competitive and doesn't want to leave any doors open.

-- Steve Bowman


2:16PM ET

Finally a small flurry of action. Scott Rook caught a bass and as he went to the back of the boat to cull, Keith Combs hooked up right next door.

-- Pete Robbins


2:06PM ET

Boyd Duckett keeps fighting to make the Super Six. He's got a reported 25-pound plus bag at the moment, to go with at least four 20-pound class bags that we know of.

The weigh-in will be exciting. But more than that, it also shows that big fish are continuing to show up at least in Lake Cat.

One of his fish is a 7-pounder. That goes with an 8-pounder he caught this morning.

Meanwhile, Chapman has culled a few times, but he's moving up by ounces not pounds.

Trey Reid said, "Chapman said it was 'the two-minute warning and I'm down by a touchdown.' "

Actually he's down a couple of touchdowns. Time is running out on him.

Remitz, though, in wonders of all wonders could still make this interesting with another one of those log donkeys that seem to be showing up for Boyd Duckett. And of course a log donkey added to KVD's stringer and he laps the field so far so you can even dream up that kind of comeback.

But there is still time for some craziness to happens.

If it happens we would be witnessing one of the all time greatest final-day surges ever recorded

-- Steve Bowman


2:03PM ET

These guys running to Venice better give themselves enough time to get back home. Today, the fog isn't a factor, but the wind is. We just ran across Lake Cat and it was rough. James Kennedy said the worst of the run will be coming across Barataria Bay. There could be 5 footers rolling around and that might slow down a few of the anglers.

It's the final day of the Bassmaster Classic, so some guys will be waiting until the last second and it could be costly.

-- Rob Russow


2:03PM ET

The wind is howling through the Tank Pond now, but fishing seems to have slacked. We haven't seen anyone set in 15-20 minutes and we have four top contenders in sight.

-- Pete Robbins


1:48PM ET

I've been blogging so much, my batteries died. After tinkering with some wires in the boat, we were able to get it on a charger.

Just a little too late because I am headed back to the arena to host the live weigh-in of the Bassmaster College Classic. An old-fashioned grudge-match between the defending champion Alabama fishing team against hometown favorites LSU out on Lake Verret.

These college guys are the future of the sport and will get a taste of the limelight as they cross the Classic stage.

The first fish crosses the scales at 4:30 p.m. ET on Bassmaster.com.

-- Rob Russow


1:45PM ET

Here are the updated BASSTrakk standings. Now these are totally unofficial.

Kevin VanDam's seemed to put the hammer down with catch.

Get complete standings.


1:44PM ET

We're back up on the key part of the flat. As we pulled up, Martens battled a fish into the boat and culled.

-- Pete Robbins


1:45PM ET

Chapman is planning on sticking to his sweet spot until he has to leave.

He's unaware of all the big bags being produced to the north, but he knows he has to have more.

But if he is feeling any pressure, he's not showing it. His voice is calm and he looks relaxed. He's methodically picking apart the bank of Roseau canes.

He just told us that his biggest fish came late in the day yesterday. He's branching out to a nearby narrow canal, but expects to hit the sweet spot before leaving in a few minutes.

-- Trey Reid


1:31PM ET

Chapman is back on his sweet spot and he immediately caught two nice keepers. They won't cull, though.

He's still at 16 pounds.

"What I wouldn't do for those two at most of the places we got to,'' he said. "I'll probably stay right here."

-- Trey Reid


1:24PM ET

We've been so focused on Remitz, VanDam and Chapman (really the only three that bear watching) that we haven't noticed some other things going on in the standings.

Notably, Boyd Duckett has finished his limit. He has about 19 pounds and might be enough to put him in the Super Six at the end of the day.

And Ike has a 20-pound limit caught from the Venice area, which moves him into fifth. No way he can catch KVD, but there are obviously much larger sacks being produced today.

Makes you want to think about what would have been if there hadn't been the fog delays and/or what this might look like a week from now.

-- Steve Bowman


1:15PM ET

Duckett stayed in one spot with his Power-Poles down for more than 30 minutes but never caught another fish. Then he pulled them up, moved about 75 yards and landed another small keeper. He's fishing a dark colored bait, either a jig or a chatterbait.

-- Pete Robbins


1:14PM ET

I visited with Brent Chapman for a short minute yesterday to get an idea of what he was doing.

The area that Trey Reid is reporting from includes that spot where he has been getting those flurries of bites.

I'm assuming it's the same one where he caught his fish yesterday. That area, according to Chapman, is basically a deep hole within that canal or channel.

Chapman believes the fish are showing up there and waiting for conditions to get right before fanning out to the shallows to spawn.

Basically that makes this a timing deal for him. It appears as if each time he gets close he goes through a series of catches, then it slows.

He hits that right when there are 5-pounders sitting there and the game starts playing a little closer to his hands.

But he better get busy and fast.

We've just received word that KVD has boated another 5-pounder, which helps put him out of reach. He's culling up, which is something the others don't want to see happen. While he's boating that one, Aaron Martens, who is close by catches a 6-pounder.

It appears as if that big fish flurry is in front of KVD and the Lake Cat/Tank Pond guys. One bites and then others kick in around them.

The area they are fishing is just a larger copy of what Chapman is fishing. Those fish are moving in and getting ready to hit the spawning flats.

-- Steve Bowman


1:07PM ET

Sounds like the water temperature has come down a little bit in Venice, which doesn't surprise our boat driver James Kennedy. Head over to the BASSCam page to hear him explain a little about the tides and how they are affecting the anglers on Sunday.

-- Rob Russow


1:07PM ET

Chapman just culled again and has 16 pounds. He's giving himself another hour to fish before heading back to the check-in.

He's fishing one side of a channel near the place he started this morning. He said he plans to work back down the other side of the slough and make his way back to the hole that yielded half a dozen good bites.

-- Trey Reid


12:54PM ET

Brent Chapman just put another chunky one in the boat. He just weighed all his fish and culled the smallest.

He has 15 1/2-pounds. The last fish came from the same small area where his first three-fish flurry occurred earlier in the day.

Chapman said he is surprised at the water temperature.

"I'm just dumbfounded,'' he said, "yesterday the water temperature was in the upper 50s. Today it's just 49."

-- Trey Reid


12:49PM ET

PHOTO GALLERY

Click Here

We have just posted our first on the water gallery, which includes Kevin VanDam and his 5-pound fish that he said was a game-changer.

Photographer James Overstreet is on KVD today and has a great sequence of him catching his biggest fish of the day.

Brandon Palaniuk, Derek Remitz, Brandon Palaniuk and Aaron Martens are also included in this. All are fishing in the Tank Pond.

-- Mike Suchan


12:45PM ET

We've moved over to Boyd Duckett and watched him catch a small keeper, the third fish he caught today. He confirmed earlier rumors that he has an 8-pound class fish in the livewell, plus another "big one." On top of that, he lost another mule. It wouldn't have earned him the win, but it could have made for one hell of an impressive bag.

-- Pete Robbins


12:43PM ET

Bowman brought up a good point about the vitality of the marsh here. I asked James Kennedy a little about how far it's come since Katrina.

"What it did was, you had so much saltwater intrusion, it kills most of the fish," Kennedy said. "With the influx of tide with the storm, we probably had another 15 feet of water on top of where we are now. Bass can't handle those kinds of extremes.

"These are healthy, healthy fish right now. A lot has to do with the diversion, but you have a lot fresher water than you do anywhere else. Except down by Venice, which is fed by the river."

Venice, as evidenced by the weights the anglers down there pull in with only a few hours to fish, is a fantastic fishery.

"That fishery, as far as numbers go, back in the fall, you could catch 100 fish a day and 15 to 18 pounds was no problem," Kennedy said. "The next few years will be very fun to watch around here. Every year, you see more and more big fish like the one you saw Derek catch."

-- Rob Russow


12:37PM ET

Trey Reid reports in that Brent Chapman is culling. BASSTrakk has him with about 13 pounds. But Trey has him with 15, even though he can't be certain.

He assures us as soon as Chapman is in an area to approach we will get a better idea.

The key there, though, is he is still catching them. He has to have 5-pound or better fish show up for him to make a move. As mentioned below, those didn't start snapping until later.

He still has time and even though it might look different elsewhere, he is still very much in this race.

-- Steve Bowman


12:35PM ET

If he can hold off Chapman and the hard-charging Remitz, KVD would not only tie Rick Clunn with four Classic titles, but he would be only the second angler with back-to-back titles. Yes, it was Clunn in 1976-1977.

He'd top another legend as well. Roland Martin and KVD each have 19 B.A.S.S. victories.

See more in Ken Duke's Day Two by the numbers

-- Mike Suchan


12:30PM ET

Not everyone in the Delta embraces catch-and-release, Randall Tharp discovered Saturday. By the time the fog delay ended and he arrived at Bayou Black, at least 20 boats were already working the canals he was counting on.

"The two that really got to me were filling their ice chests," he said. "I saw them catch seven bass in 15 minutes, and every one went right into the box."

Tharp said VanDam told him he had thought about fishing Bayou Black, but he expected it to be crowded with local anglers on the weekend. Tharp, the only contender to go there, failed to take that into account.

-- Dave Precht


12:29PM ET

One of the things that might be getting lost in all of this Classic coverage: While we should be concentrating on VanDam, Martens, Rook, Remitz and Chapman, because they are the stars of the fishing world, we have to remember the real star of this Classic.

With every blog posting, every photo taken, every record that is broken (And there will be records broken) it becomes increasingly clear who the real star of this Classic is -- this amazing place called the Louisiana Delta.

Despite hours of fog delays, this place just keeps shining brighter and brighter. No other place in the world can do that.

Consider what it has been through with Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, coastal erosion and a long list of other things and this place just becomes even more amazing.

Not only can you wax some redfish and trout, but you can see a show like that KVD and Remitz are putting up complete with log donkeys.

The big winner of the week -- the Louisiana Delta.

-- Steve Bowman


12:25PM ET

People expected this area to run dry after a few days with this many anglers fishing here. Unfortunately for the anglers running to Venice, that hasn't materialized.

The cold weather leading up to the event has kept the bass back, but the strong warming trend is pushing the fish to the bank in waves.

In the Tank Ponds, that means the perfect time to catch a monster. Locals predicted a 10-pounder would be caught and that just might happen. Or maybe already did.

"Up here, the diversion and Florida strain they stocked makes for bigger bass," Kennedy said. "The fish in Venice are river fish. They are stronger from fighting the current, but they just don't get as big."

-- Rob Russow


12:24PM ET

Andy Montgomery is one of several contenders who waited too late to fish the glory hole in Lake Cataouatche on Friday, only to find it crowded with VanDam, Rook and Martens when he finally got there. He's paying for his mistake by putting in time at the Expo this morning.

Montgomery says there are two "sweet spots" in that section with the highest concentrations of huge stumps. He described one of them as the size of "the Ranger and Stratos booths put together, probably 20-30 yards across."

Remitz, Combs, Martens, Rook and VanDam are in that one little spot, close enough to flip in each other's boats, he described. Brandon Palaniuk had the other sweet spot to himself.

Montgomery believes Chapman can't catch KVD by fishing Venice.

"If Kevin has 16 pounds now, Brent has to have 20, and catching 20 pounds in Venice is hard. A 4 pounder is big down there."

-- Dave Precht


12:22PM ET

One of my fishing buddies, Ross Barkhurst, down here in the Delta just sent a text with the old news of Remitz's big fish.

But his characterization of that fish bears repeating. Can't put the whole sentence in there, because I assume there are kids reading, but in these parts Remitz's fish is referred to as a "log donkey."

That would be a very apt description. We will be posting photos of that fish soon. We can't see the whole thing, but the fish has a head and a mouth that would make any donkey proud.

Those kind of fish (we hate to keep beating a dead donkey) can obviously change the complexity of the game. Remitz is all of the sudden one more donkey away from riding into the sunset with a Classic trophy. And Chapman still bears watching. There are more than a few log donkeys that live in the Venice area.

Love it when the plot thickens. Regardless, we still have a full-blown tournament on our hands.

-- Steve Bowman


12:20PM ET

Martens set the hook and bowed up for a second, then his line went slack. So did his body, which crumbled a la the Pittsburgh disaster. He immediately hooked up again but this time the fish was a bare keeper. He's culling now.

When we went over to pick up film from Aaron's cameraman, I asked about the baits on his deck, one of which was a Redeye shad, THE KVD bait. He can't escape Kevin, in Pennsylvania, in Louisiana or in the bait shop.

-- Pete Robbins


12:14PM ET

This tournament might have been decided a month ago, said Mark Zona, who asked KVD back then if he planned on trying Venice.

PHOTO GALLERY

Launch gallery II

"No way," was VanDam's response.

Wouldn't even check it out? Nope.

"Kevin has that trait about him -- he does not like not being in control, on the water, off the water," Zona said. "If you go to Venice, you are not in control. There are too many unforeseen obstacles."

-- Mike Suchan


12:11PM ET

Right about the time I finished the sentence, "For Martens, Remitz and Rook, it's 8-pounders or bust," Remitz put a 10-pounder in the boat to bring his limit to just under 25 pounds.

He's hammering home the point that this event will not be over until they put their boats on the trailers and head downtown.

And there is a lot of room for Remitz to improve. Rounding down, his limit looks like this: 10, 4, 5, 3, 2.

Realistically, with the way they are pulling them out of Cataouatche, he could add 5 pounds to that limit without doing anything special. And if you consider the fact there are still a handful of 8-and 10-pound bass in the area, all the sudden Remitz is one cast away from being in the driver's seat.

Oh how quickly things can change.

-- Kyle Carter


12:09PM ET

Boat driver Matt McCabe and I just went to pick up tape from KVD's cameraman. While we were there (maybe 2 minutes) Kevin caught two 2-pounders. Both immediately went back in the pond.

-- Pete Robbins


12:04PM ET

From Kevin VanDam's blog

"So far, so good. I'm in a position to do what I set out to do — win my fourth Bassmaster Classic. But I still have a lot of work to do before that can happen." Read more

-- Kevin VanDam


12:01PM ET

PHOTO GALLERY

Launch gallery

By my calculations, and they are far from perfect, Remitz has a real shot to win this thing. He still has a few pounds to make up on VanDam, but also has a fish less than 3 pounds and one maybe just over three. One more good fish and this gets real interesting.

I just looked down at my clock and we are barely halfway through the day.

Things have slowed down considerably here in the last 30 minutes, but that's how things work out here. We've entertained ourselves with speculation and now we are waiting on the edge of our seats to see what happens next.

I hope you are, too.

-- Rob Russow


11:56AM ET

Remitz's cameraman Brian Mason just confirmed that his big fish was a 10-pounder. That gives him close to 25 pounds. Rediculous.

-- Rob Russow


11:53AM ET

Last we heard from Trey Reid was that Brent Chapman was looking for his fifth fish. He told us he was running into a canal that was only big enough for one boat and asked us to stay put.

He said he'd yell to let us know if he caught anything. He's less than 75 yards away behind a tall wall of Roseau cane.

"I hope you hear a lot of yelling," he said.

Remember that Chapman has barely seen his area this early the first two days. He didn't arrive until 11:30-ish yesterday when he started pulling them in. And even then, he culled three times in the last 15 minutes and caught his largest fish on his last cast.

Lucky for him (because of the fog delays) his spot heats up as the day goes on. This is going to look bleak for a while with the way VanDam is catching them, but it would be a mistake to say Chapman is out of it.

He'll need 25 pounds, but I think he knew that going into today. Nobody with a brain was counting on VanDam bringing in 8 pounds.

VanDam's big limit has dealt the biggest blow to the guys fishing next to him in that lake. They're they ones that needed him to fall and they get to watch that not happen. Now it's 8-pounders or bust for Martens, Rook and Remitz. But those are there too, just ask Duckett and Lane.

Chapman knows what he needs, and judging from the last two days, he's in a spot that holds the right kind of bass to do it.

-- -- Kyle Carter


11:53AM ET

Another quality fish for Remitz. He may not have a shot at KVD, but if Brent stumbles he should be a legitimate contender for second -- and he has four hours to boat a kicker.

Aaron just told us he suspects there is an "anti-fish device" in his boat.

-- Pete Robbins


11:51AM ET

Remitz started the day in sixth place with 30-3. If he does in fact have a 10-pound class fish and two around 5, that gives him 20. Another big one from the area expected to produce big ones and he could seriously cut into his 11-8 deficit on KVD.

-- Mike Suchan


11:48AM ET

We've got rumors flying like crazy around the Tank Ponds and Remitz's big fish.

One boat that was closer to Remitz when he caught that big one said it was 11 pounds. Another boat said it was a 9-pounder and that Remitz also had a 6- and 5-pounder. If so, that would give him 20 pounds with just those three fish. Add in two more in the 3-pound class and Remitz would have a 26-pound limit.

Like I said, these are just rumors. We had an obstructed view of the catch, but our opinion is that it was closer to 7. I'm going to say he's also got two fours and two close to three. That would give him 21 pounds.

Right now, VanDam's biggest challenge is coming from an unlikely place: right next to him.

-- Rob Russow


11:43AM ET

The Tank Ponds are an old cypress pond, where the stumps were cut off years ago.

Grass is growing and the water is about 3 feet deep. VanDam was taking advantage of reaction strikes off both grass and the stumps.

"He would hit a stump and he's got that little wrist action. He kind of gives it a flick off that stump and that's when it hooks up," James Kennedy said.

What's special about the specific area within the Tank Ponds?

"They have been working between the seventh and 12th opening," Kennedy said. "There is a little channel down there at seven and another down on 14 where the water is about a foot deeper. With the warming water, the fish are moving into this area to spawn."

Anglers have been catching a few fish off beds, but these anglers have been capitalizing on the fish moving in.

-- Rob Russow


11:27AM ET

Billy Murray says he has "pushed into every hole and pond" in the lower Delta, learning it section by section. "There is so much water to fish down here it's unbelievable."

So how do anglers like Brent Chapman and Michael Iaconelli find such concentrations of bass? Billy's twin brother and two-time Classic champion Bobby Murray has a simple answer: "They're pros!" he said.

-- Dave Precht


11:27AM ET

Billy Murray says he has "pushed into every hole and pond" in the lower Delta, learning it section by section. "There is so much water to fish down here it's unbelievable."

So how do anglers like Brent Chapman and Michael Iaconelli find such concentrations of bass? Billy's twin brother and two-time Classic champion Bobby Murray has a simple answer: "They're pros!" he said.

-- Dave Precht


11:26AM ET

These fish bite in flurries and when they are biting, everyone is hooking up.

Keith Combs landed one close to 4, followed by a good keeper. Scott Rook caught two or three in a short time. VanDam had a small keeper that didn't help him.

The king of the Tank ponds today is Derek Remitz. He just boated a big, big fish. It could have been more than 6 pounds. He's working on the bag of the tournament right now, but it won't help him win.

VanDam caught another 2.5-pounder, but it didn't help. That means he has a pretty solid 18. Chapman still has a chance, but he will need his biggest bag of the tournament.

-- Rob Russow


11:19AM ET

One other thing that may be contributing to the good fishing today is the presence of bait. We are seeing some of them jump and there are gulls diving -- there was little or none of that Friday or Saturday.

-- Pete Robbins


11:12AM ET

By the way, the record is history.

-- Rob Russow


11:11AM ET

VanDam has a jar of nails and he's pounding them into the coffins of every other angler on the Delta. On Chapman, the nail is poised to be driven, courtesy of a 4-pounder he just landed amid shouts of "KVD, you are the man!"

That gives him an easy 17 to 17 1/2 pounds in my book after he threw back a 1 1/2-pound dink. He's got one more about 2 pounds in the boat and when he culls that, this thing could be over. We're not even half-way through the day.

-- Rob Russow


11:08AM ET

Brent Chapman just put a 2 3/4-pounder in the boat, which pushes his total to about 5 pounds.

He had his boat anchored with the Power Pole, working the back of a small cut in Sabot Pond.

He just put another 2-pounder in the well, making it about 7 pounds now. He has been flipping a creature bait , but threw a spinnerbait for about two minutes.

The activity is picking up.

Next he lands a 3 1/2-pounder.

"That ought to make up the deficit,'' he said.

He's over 10 pounds all of the sudden with four fish in the livewell.

The last three have come from the same area.

He appears to be dialing into the bite right now.

-- Trey Reid


11:07AM ET

We just watched Rook catch two solid keepers in less than 5 minutes. This is the strongest wind we've had all week, and the local camera boat drivers seem to believe that has got the bass chewing.

-- Pete Robbins


10:59AM ET

Remitz is putting together quite a bag. Not enough to catch VanDam, but another fish close to 3 pounds gives him three very nice fish.

The wind continues to pick up and the water is getting dirtier.

"That happens anytime you get an east-southeast wind out here," Kennedy said.

After those good bites early, most of the fish coming in are in the 2-pound range. Everyone is fishing a crankbait right now. Earlier in the week it was a spinnerbait until midway through the day yesterday, VanDam pulled out a crankbait and started catching them. Whether he was the first one to do it or not, everyone else has made the change.

I haven't even seen a spinnerbait being thrown, although today seems like a good day for it.

-- Rob Russow


10:58AM ET

I just read Rob Russow's blog entry at 10:33 a.m. He mentions an exchange between KVD and Martens. KVD relayed to Aaron that he had "about 16 pounds."

BASSTrakk doesn't have them that high. Rob Russow, who has two of the best eyes on the water, had it lighter than that.

We, all of us including VanDam, can just speculate on what he may have. But what I really don't think is speculation is what KVD was seeking to accomplish in that exchange.

KVD is the master at playing the game. He knows the area he is in is capable of producing a big sack for Martens. He knows Martens is capable of catching a big sack. But he also knows he can plant the seed of doubt and let it sprout, plant the seed of futility and let it grow.

I can remember at this year's AOY playoff, when he was charging to over take Skeet on the Alabama River. Each morning in the interviews, he would not only say he was confident that he could win, but add a fishing report and advice into his speech to all the other anglers. It wasn't like he was saying "you go and do this" but he would say something like "once these guys get going, they are the best in the business. They start getting up real shallow and tossing their jigs and crankbaits around wood cover,'' and so on. Basically telling them how they could catch more fish, separating him more and more from Skeet.

As for Skeet, the last thing he needed was for more guys to know how to get it done. And a little air goes out of the sails.

It's like John Madden diagramming a play and sending it to the sidelines.

Like I said, KVD is the master of that game. And it is a very big part of the game. I've watched the greats like Roland Martin, Larry Nixon and Denny Brauer play that for decades.

Just another aspect of things that makes this day so compelling.

-- Steve Bowman


10:57AM ET

We'd been on Aaron for 30 minutes without seeing him set the hook when he finally caught a decent keeper. He's back by the livewells getting things organized to eventually cull.

-- Pete Robbins


10:53AM ET

Remitz just caught another 3-pounder — he's building up another good bag of fish, but with the other-worldly KVD freight train rolling on, it may be too little, too late.

-- Pete Robbins


10:47AM ET

Chapman still just has one fish. There are three camera boats, including ours, following him. A spectator boat followed him into the pond this morning, but it just left.

Chapman may have been relieved. This is a small area, and he said that any extra disturbance has the potential to spook the fish.

-- Trey Reid


10:43AM ET

Rook just put a fish under 2 pounds in the box and didn't cull. We don't know how many he has, but it appears he's still working on a limit. With everyone's deficit going into the day, at this point, only Brent Chapman has a chance.

VanDam has worked his way farther back into the Tank Ponds, while Aaron Martens moved into the area VanDam fished this morning. They keep circling and after a little while, we expect KVD to move back out to where we are sitting.

Combs and Remitz are pretty close and haven't moved much, with Remitz coming out the better of the two so far today.

-- Rob Russow


10:33AM ET

The action has kept up over in the tank ponds. VanDam caught a small keeper, but it didn't help him. Remitz boated a bass at least 4 pounds, then caught a redfish. I don't know how many these guys have caught the last few days, but they are loving the warm weather.

Matt McCabe was running the camera boat for VanDam and Martens. When he was over there, VanDam told Martens he has 16 pounds, which would give him the record. It really depends on the size of his kicker, which could go closer to 6 pounds.

-- Rob Russow


10:32AM ET

Brent Chapman just caught his first keeper. Probably around 2 pounds.

He's sitting in the boat and retying at the moment; he's getting ready to jump back up and hit the Roseau Cane.

-- Trey Reid


10:26AM ET

Brent Chapman just caught his first keeper. Probably around 2-pounds.

He's sitting in the boat and retying at the moment, getting ready to jump back up and hit the Roseau Cane.

-- Steve Bowman


10:26AM ET

Remitz just caught one in the 3- to 4-pound range. It's amazing how calm he is. If we hadn't seen the splashing when the fish jumped, we might not have known that he had one on -- his body language and position didn't change at all.

-- Pete Robbins


10:26AM ET

Today wasn't much different than yesterday. The fog delay this morning -- about three hours -- cut my fishing time down to about two and a half hours but other than that nothing significant happened. Ike's Day Two blog

-- Mike Iaconelli


10:14AM ET

Brent Chapman just arrived at Delta Duck and made his first cast at around 9:10 (CT). He's flipping around the Roseau canes in a small cut off Sabot Pond.

-- Trey Reid


10:10AM ET

BASSTrakk has VanDam with four fish right now that go about 10-8. (Rob has him at more like 13-8.)

Chapman followed Gary Klein and Kevin Wirth down the river yesterday through the fog because he didn't have the Lowrance radar. He had it installed on his boat but doesn't look like he'll need it today. Looks like he'll be at his spot within a few minutes.

-- Kyle Carter


10:10AM ET

We had a little excitement when VanDam set the hook a minute ago. I thought the record might drop, but it turned out to just be a redfish that VanDam foul-hooked.

The wind is blowing more than it has all week and that might really be helping this early morning thing.

Boyd Duckett, who has been reported as catching two very nice bass, is not fishing the Tank Pond with everyone else. He's actually on the outside of the tire breakwall. James Kennedy said there are areas with stumps and trash out there that Duckett is probably fishing.

VanDam had a little flurry where he caught a small keeper and then caught a 2-pounder, which culled him up to around 15.

He's sitting on the record right now.

-- Rob Russow


10:08AM ET

The other half of this story is about to start unfolding. Chapman should be real close to Venice by now.

Our guys have an idea of where he's going and tried to get a little bit of a head start, so we don't know if boats have started flying by the marina down there or not.

VanDam is doing his part so far to keep Chapman off his back, but Chapman pulled 20 pounds off his spot in an hour yesterday — today he'll have more like four hours.

-- Kyle Carter


10:06AM ET

Palaniuk is fishing off of his main run from yesterday. Carl, our boat driver, says he's letting his main area "marinate." Then again Carl also likes to eat nutria, so take what he says with a grain of salt.

-- Pete Robbins


10:03AM ET

"See what he's doing with his hand?" Overstreet said. "I've seen other people try to do it, but he's just built like a whip."

People asked how VanDam could pull out 22 pounds yesterday while the most anyone else could do was 17. His technique is one of the reasons. It's kind of a steady retrieve with periods of violence.

A snap of the wrist, a quick-quick-pause with the reel handle or a rip of the rod creates a reaction strike similar to the way a bass bites a lipless crankbait being pulled out of grass. Only with KVD, the same simulation is happening on every cast, with or without grass included.

That's part of the reason VanDam can sit in a crowd and do what he does.

As I typed that, another 3-pounder bites and VanDam carefully ropes it to the boat. With four fish for 13.5 pounds, he only needs a 2-pounder to break the record. Look out Toho. At this point the question isn't will he break the record, it will only be can Chapman break it more.

-- Rob Russow


9:57AM ET

There's a lot of action early today. We really haven't had a chance to see what this fishery would do in the early morning hours because of all the delays, and it's showing up nicely today.

There are a lot of fish on the board and a lot of fish we know about that haven't reported to BASSTrakk yet.

Duckett has added a 5-pounder to the 8 we reported earlier (and now confirmed). He started the day 19th and 17-6 behind VanDam, so he's not making a run at his second Classic, but he's smoking them.

But once again, he's proving that Cataouatche is very capable of producing a monster bag.

-- Kyle Carter


9:55AM ET

Combs just caught a 3-plus within a short pitch of Remitz, right when a few even-stronger gusts of wind blew through.

-- Pete Robbins


9:49AM ET

Keith Combs just caught a bass within a cast of Remitz's boat. Combs has a valid claim to this area -- he's been here the entire time -- but I'm sure Remitz would've preferred to have that fish for himself. Remitz started the day in fifth, 11-8 out of the lead.

As soon as I pressed the "send" button on the report of Combs' catch, Remitz set the hook and put another bass in the boat.

-- Pete Robbins


9:44AM ET

BASSTrakk just showed up with Boyd Duckett catching an 8-pounder. We're trying to confirm with his Marshal now and will let you know for sure.

He's fishing right there with everybody else in Cataouatche. They've been saying all week that big ones live in there. Add this 8-pounder to the 7-12 Russ Lane pulled out of there yesterday and Martens starts to make sense when he says there's a 25-plus pound bag to be had in that lake.

-- Kyle Carter


9:42AM ET

Remitz just caught a small keeper and it went in the livewell. We heard from a spectator that he had a 3-plus earlier. Activity seems to be moderate to constant today. Maybe it's the morning bite they missed the first two days or maybe the heavier breeze has improved the bite.

-- Pete Robbins


9:37AM ET

VanDam pulls into a fish and crouches down so low it looks like he is doing a dance. It's obvious from the start, this is a big fish. He plays this bass very carefully and lays down to yank it into the boat.

That was a game changer, as VanDam likes to say. It is easily 5 pounds, probably putting KVD in the 10.5-pound range with only three fish. James Overstreet captured the moment brilliantly and I'm excited just looking at the shot.

Can't wait for everyone to see it. The picture captures everything that moment was about, from the emotions on Kevin's face, to the death-grip he has on what could be a record-setting fish.

-- Rob Russow


9:36AM ET

Remitz, Combs and Rook are arranged in a triangle. Remitz is reeling at a good clip but moving the boat at a deliberate pace, really seining what appears to be a key stretch.

-- Pete Robbins


9:29AM ET

VanDam is throwing a mostly chartreuse crankbait. The water back in here is pretty stained.

Even though more boats are arriving, they keep well back from the circle. VanDam is good at keeping contact with the boats around him to let them know where he wants them to stay.

"He should be directing traffic at the airport."

VanDam boats about a 1.5-pound bass, which gives him two fish for 5 pounds.

"This area is so capable of producing a 25- to 30-pound bag, I've just been waiting for these guys to do it."

What's special about this spot?

"This whole area is called the Davis Pond Project. They put in a diversion that comes straight off the river to help create more wetlands," Kennedy said. "All the nutrients backwashing from the river and then all the Florida strain stocking they did.

"This fishery is unbelievably healthy right now. Cal Delta? How about the Louisiana Delta. We're about to put a whupping on Toho today."

-- Rob Russow


9:26AM ET

Looks like Cataouatche is producing as usual early. That's bad for Chapman, who should be sneaking up on Venice within the next 15 minutes.

Of course, Martens, Rook and Remitz need the bite in Cataouatche to be hot. That has to be tough on them. It's one thing to need a 25-pound bag, but when you need to pull it out of an area that's also producing for the guy you're trying to run down, it's a tough situation.

Martens has two fish that go about 3 pounds right now. He's going to need a significant upgrade in class to have a shot.

VanDam has two fish for more than 3 and half.

-- Kyle Carter


9:26AM ET

Right now there's not a tournament boat within 50 yards of KVD and he took advantage of the "solitude," catching a keeper.

-- Pete Robbins


9:20AM ET

We arrived in the Catouatche scrum a few minutes ago and thought we heard a celebratory war cry from KVD.

We're easing our way over toward the mix. A spectator asked Kevin where he should be and now the crew is backing off a bit.

-- Pete Robbins


9:18AM ET

VanDam is fishing a square-billed crankbait with his usual erratic style. The bait dives up to four feet, which is just enough to tick the top of the grass, depending where he holds his rod. If he hits grass or another piece of cover, he pops it free.

All of a sudden, at the boat a good fish hits and VanDam sets the hook and swings it right onto the deck. A great start early for KVD with a 3.5-pounder.

"Watch, he's going to catch another one in the next four casts," Kennedy said.

Sure enough, VanDam looks like he has one hooked up not even a minute later, but then it either pulled off or was only grass.

In the distance, Keith Combs walks a fish to the livewell, but we can't see the size. It's his second fish of the day, totalling around 2-6.

Then Martens boats a fish, maybe a pound and three-quarters. Some good early-morning action for these guys.

-- Rob Russow


9:16AM ET

VanDam, Palaniuk, Rook, Martens and Remitz are all bunched together per usual. With that many guys sharing fish and considering all that is on the line this week, it's amazing that there haven't been many, if now, turf issues.

I've talked to Rook, KVD, Martens and Remitz and nobody seems to have an issue with the way things are playing out. Even Palaniuk said he's not intimidated being in the same hole as these guys.

-- Kyle Carter


9:12AM ET

We just got the call in that Brandon Palaniuk and Kevin VanDam have both gotten on the board with fish. KVD's fish is in the 2-pound range and Palaniuk's is a pound and a half.

-- Mike Suchan


9:10AM ET

We have the first fish catch of the day on our unofficial BASSTrakk. Keith Combs' boat reported he caught a 1-pound, 1-ounce fish.

Earlier, it was reported that Brandon Palaniuk had one on but word never came if it got in the livewell.

-- Mike Suchan


9:07AM ET

I count 14 spectators around the group of six anglers, which is pretty light. KVD doesn't blink at less than 30. Last year at Lay Lake he had at least 50.

VanDam looks like he just had a bite but didn't hook up. Overstreet said that yesterday, if he threw back in immediately, he could catch the fish.

Kennedy confirmed: "He did that four times."

Water temperature is 62 degrees in here, which is a slight drop from yesterday. With the fog each night, it stayed stuffy out and kept the water warmer.

Kennedy is surprised we haven't seen someone hook up yet with a little bit of wind. The last few days have been warm and dead calm, so we'll see if the anglers have to adjust.

-- Rob Russow


9:05AM ET

Palaniuk is having a great tournament.

For a Federation guy, there was a lot of hype for him coming here. In addition to all the Kerchal similarities that got people talking, Jerry McKinnis wrote a column about him and he decided to be the first Fed Nat champion to except the invitation to the Elites.

The pessimist in me worried that all the pressure and hype -- something Federation anglers typically don't have to deal with in the Classic -- would get to him. Or that he would just have a bad tournament, which happens, and everybody would move on to something else.

But he's had an incredible showing and is getting even more attention at the Classic than he had before. For more on the Federation guys and how they're doing, check out Rob's story from last night.

-- Kyle Carter


9:01AM ET

We are on the water, waiting for the anglers to arrive. We're waiting at the area known locally as "The Jump," which is where Red Pass breaks off from the main channel of the Mississippi River.

Conditions are good. There's very little fog. Still a thin layer on the river, but visibility is good, which should mean an easy run for the anglers fishing several miles south of here. Our plan is to intercept Brent Chapman and sit on him until we head back to New Orleans.

-- Trey Reid


8:55AM ET

Morizo Shimizu was the only angler who hat did not take off with the rest of the group. They were still trying to get his motor fixed while the rest of the competitors idled to the mouth of Bayou Segnette State Park.

We are headed to the Tank Ponds to see if KVD can put away his fourth Classic title.

A lot of records are on the line today for the man from Kalamazoo. With a victory today, he would tie Rick Clunn for four wins in the big show, including two in a row. If he catches about 15 pounds, he will also set the Classic record for heaviest three-day total, currently the 56-2 held by Luke Clausen on Toho in 2006.

Brent Chapman has a shot as well if he brings in closer to 19 pounds.

I'm rolling with photog James Overstreet and driver James Kennedy, who is a bit crazy, but I can tell already he will be full of great quotes.

As we were running down Lake Cat, he yelled, "Kevin will be winning his fourth Classic today. With this wind we have, this tournament is over."

-- Rob Russow


8:52
AM ET

Here's our coverage plan today:

Trey Reid and Jerry Cunningham are already in Venice waiting on Chapman. We have a reasonable idea of where he's heading -- that coupled with the lack of fog and we should be on Chapman pretty much all day. We're just praying at this point that there's cell service in his area.

James Overstreet and Rob Russow are heading to Cataouatche to sit on VanDam and all the boats who will be fishing within camera range from him.

Doug Cox and Pete Robbins are also heading to Cataouatche, but they are going to stay more around the edges, reporting on the Remitz, Palaniuk and a couple others.

That's the plan, but as we've found out twice in two days, things don't always go as planned.

Of course, we have BASSTrakk up and will be following the entire field, ready to make an adjustment.

- Kyle Carter


8:50
AM ET

Martens won the race to the tank pond by about a mile and reportedly has already made 20 casts. Palaniuk is the first to have one on. No word if he boated it.

-- Mike Suchan


8:45
AM ET

The question as these guys pull off is, who's in contention?

Obviously, VanDam is in the driver's seat and will be hard to catch. But he hasn't always been a great front-runner. I remember walking back from the final day launch from Lay Lake in 2007 when VanDam had the lead and thinking there was no way anyone would beat him.

He looked dialed in and unstoppable. Then he went out and caught 12 pounds, leaving the door open for Duckett and Reese to jump him in the standings. His lead over Duckett going into that day was 2 pounds.

This is different. His lead is larger, and there aren't as many guys who can catch him, but we can't take it for granted that KVD will go catch 20 pounds again.

It will be fun to watch it unfold.

-- Kyle Carter


8:38
AM ET

Scott Rook is an even 10 pounds behind KVD in fifth place. He's been fishing alongside the Day Two leader -- as has first-day leader Aaron Martens -- in the Tank Pond, known for producing some monster bass.

Rook said he and KVD have been throwing spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

"I'm optimistic," Rook said. "I'm in the area with some big fish."

Yes sir, you are. A local said that last year at this time two 12-pounders were caught there on the same day. One bite like that from the top six or seven anglers would make this interesting, and a slam dunk if it's KVD.

But can Kevin be beat?

"I would think that it's Kevin's to lose," Rook said. "Brent only had three hours to fish and had 20 pounds, that's pretty stout. He only fished an hour and 10 minutes yesterday. It's taking us all day."

Rook estimated both he and KVD caught around 8-9 fish on Friday. The numbers went up to 15-18 on Day Two, but only KVD caught the quality fish. After his 19-6, Rook fell from second to fifth with 12-5.

And what happened to Aaron Martens, the Day One leader with 20-7 who slipped to third with 12-11?

"He expanded on the area," but apparently couldn't locate the quality. With 33-2, Martens is 8-9 back, but he does have a chance with the prospect of big fish roaming the area. Oh, and he loves the early bite.

"It's interesting. We catch them real quick and then it dies and then picks back up around noon," Rook said. "Pretty typical of a full moon deal. They feed at night and continue on early for a little while. The warmer water gets their metabolism up and means they're going to eat more."

-- Mike Suchan


8:31
AM ET

KVD just took off. The others are following Dave Mercer is naming them off as the pass the official B.A.S.S. launch dock. The final day of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic is under way.

-- Kyle Carter


8:30
AM ET

Brent Chapman has to be the happiest guy on the dock that there's only a short fog delay.

-- Kyle Carter


8:30
AM ET

The national anthem is over and we're having a flyover. The helicopter just buzzed us. Dave Mercer is announcing the first of 25 Classic anglers. Let's Go!!!

-- Mike Suchan


8:23
AM ET

Launch is at 7:30 (CT).

This has to be a little tougher of a delay for the guys who are running to Venice. It's one thing to sit and wait in a patch of fog, but the skies here at the ramp are bright, blue and clear.

But they'll be off soon. This will be 45 minutes more fishing than they've had all week.

They have been warned that patches of fog still remain in some spots.

-- Kyle Carter


8:04
AM ET

Trey Reid crossed the Empire Bridge (about 15 miles north of Venice), and he said you can see for miles. There are no fog issues down there.

When Trip lights this firecracker, expect the Venice guys to get more fishing time, at least more than the first two days.

-- Trey Reid


8:03
AM ET

With such limited time to fish yesterday, Kriet reported that some of life's necessities took a back seat. He ate a candy bar at 70mph and, ahem, relieved himself, without ever stopping flipping is Yo Mama.

-- Pete Robbins


8:01
AM ET

Breaking news; despite clear air here at the park the sherriff reported thick fog in Cataouatche.

Mercer got the crowd to boo the fog they had previously cheered.

Rather than heading back to the hotel for some much-needed shuteye, Aaron Martens was in the boat yard until 9 p.m. last night working on tackle.

"I'm completely changing my style of fishing today," he said. That means more treble-hooked baits after a frustrating day of missed spinnerbait strikes.

Should I stay or should I go? Martens is committed to starting where he caught his two biggest fish on Friday, but he's convinced there are untapped wads of big spawners elsewhere on the flat.

"There are areas out there, little 50 to 100 foot areas, that have 5 or 6 big ones on them."

-- Pete Robbins


7:55
AM ET

Correction, we will have a slight fog delay. Trip Weldon has put a hold on the proceedings and is taking a short ride to the mouth of Lake Cataouatche to assess the situation.

Although they isn't any fog at Bayou Segnette State Park, Trey Reid is reporting that the fog isn't completely gone, but conditions along the land route to Venice still have improved vastly.

There was a dense patch about a mile wide roughly 15 miles southeast of the takeoff location. He hit a light patch about 30 miles farther down the road, and then another dense patch a few more miles south.

But he says the operative word here is "patch." The past two mornings, the fog has been solid all the way from Bayou Segnette to Venice. Reid and cameraman Jerry Cunningham are now 35 miles from Venice and the sun just appeared on the horizon.

Unlike Days One and Two, there's no thick haze in front of it, so any lingering foggy patches should burn off before too long.

-- Mike Suchan


7:48
AM ET

There is just a different feel to the final day of the Classic. With the smaller field (25 boats) it's not as chaotic and it give the guys a chance to soak in the moment.

They work all year to get to this point and in roughly 12 hours when they walk across the stage, it's time to start all over. Only one angler, Gerald Swindle, has qualified for the 2012 Classic. One more will qualify today as Classic champion, but I imagine the 2012 Classic won't really be on his mind.

These guys aren't beyond the moment, either. No matter how many times they have been here, there's something special about the Classic.

Here's what a few guys said about taking off on a Classic morning.

Cliff Pace: "That moment for me has always been full of chill bumps and anticipation. The day you don't love that feeling, this sport is no longer for you."

Jeff Kriet: "When you first get out there, you're just happy not to be in the hotel. But once you start floating around and you see VanDam, Skeet and Iaconelli, you can't start thinking about how much money VanDam has cost you, how hot Skeet has been, or Klein and his 800 Classics and how he's due."

-- Kyle Carter


7:41
AM ET

KVD said the wind that is expected to pick up through mid-morning shouldn't be enough to slow the Venice guys, but it will help his bite in the Tank Pond.

He and Shaw Grigsby were eating breakfast with sausage egg biscuits in one hand and weather apps up on their phones in the other.

Shaw said forecast calls for 10 to 20 mph winds.

-- Mike Suchan


7:39
AM ET

Emcee Dave Mercer solicited a round of applause for today's MVP, the fog (or lack thereof).

He's entertaining the crowd and getting ready to blast this thing off -- on time. It will be the first on-time take-off of this Classic.

-- Pete Robbins


7:31
AM ET

Matt Herren was the first man out, only 6 ounces from Jeff Kriet, the last man in.

At 25th place with 21 pounds, 1 ounces, Kriet's got a little more than half of KVD's leading 41-11. So outside of catching five 8-pounders that would only give him a chance, he'd realistically just like to make a move up the leaderboard.

Kriet missing a couple fish yesterday - one flopped off the boat when he couldn't make a kick save -- he's headed back to Venice, his new favorite fishing spot.

"It it would have stayed cold, it would have won there," he said.

Kriet has only had about 3 and half hours fishing time in the Classic so far and looks forward to more time today. Prefishing in December, he went out for 3 hours and caught 80 bass and 15 redfish.

"Venice to me is one of the greatest fisheries, one of my favorite places to fish," he said. "It was fun. Where else can you go catch that many fish flipping?"

And he's not giving up on the area.

"Chapman may win."

-- Mike Suchan


7:21
AM ET

Jeff Kriet said that the level of competition on the Elite Series has increased substantially in the past few years, but no one has grown as much as the already-formidable KVD. "He's making us all look bad," Kriet opined.

Talk about abbreviated days -- yesterday Kriet had 62 minutes to fish and didn't get bit for 40 minutes. Once he got into the key zone a barge operator had to shut off the canal so Kriet had no choice to leave, but not before sacking four bass and losing two.

Needless to say, he's thrilled at the prospect of fishing three-plus hours today.

-- Pete Robbins


7:12
AM ET

In his rookie year of 2007, Derek Remitz came in second on the California Delta, despite professing not to understand the impacts of the tide on fishing. This morning he said he still doesn't put much stock in running the tide.

"It's something to take into consideration," he said, "but I don't like to worry about it. I don't plan my day around it."

-- Pete Robbins


7:10
AM ET

Dean Rojas has just one of a few stories of heartbreak at the Classic. Yesterday, he brought in one of just three 20-pound bags. Unfortunately, Day One's 4 pounds killed him and he's left with nothing more than a prayer on the final day.

The heartbreaking part is that Rojas was on the quality fish to challenge KVD, and he wasn't fishing either of the two most popular areas. Rojas has a canal to himself about 20 minutes from take-off and yesterday, had a blast sight-fishing and throwing his signature frog.

To see Rojas talk about his week, go to the BASSCam page for his interview.

-- Rob Russow


7:08
AM ET

We left the takeoff site a few minutes ago and now we're headed southeast toward Venice on Louisiana 23.

For the first time yet this week, we can see dawn breaking on the horizon. It's nice to be able to see past the truck's grill. We'll report again a little farther down the road.

-- Trey Reid


7:06
AM ET

Derek Remitz on KVD's dominance: "We can all complain about it but at some pont somebody has to do something about it. This is just another day at the office for him. He still probably has more drive than all of us."

-- Pete Robbins


7:02
AM ET

With KVD at it again, Bassmaster television hosts Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders were asked if they felt like they were in reruns.

In his best old-timey announcer voice, Zona brought back memories of days of yore.

"Welcome to the Basssmaster Classic."

But he's not giving it to KVD just yet.

"It's not a slam dunk, but he's definitely in the driver's seat," Zona said. "The pressure is clearly on second place."

-- Mike Suchan


6:46
AM ET

KVD said he was happy to see the clear conditions this morning. "We all want a full day to fish," he said. That may seem counterintuitive since his closest competitor, Brent Chapman, is making a two-hour run, but KVD is taking all day to accumulate his catch -- every second counts.

Venice-bound Jeff Kriet is not part of the radar brigade but he may be rethinking that decision. "Yesterday I would have given anything to have it," he said.

Scott Rook: "Kevin's like a brother to me. If I can't win, I'd like to see him win."

-- Pete Robbins


6:35
AM ET

Brent Chapman may have been the happiest angler at the boat ramp this morning. I caught up with him as he was preparing to launch his boat a few minutes ago. After two days of fog delays, there's very little fog at the ramp this morning, so it looks like an on-time departure for the 25 remaining anglers.

That probably means more to Chapman than anyone else. He's a little more than 3 ½ pounds behind Kevin VanDam, and has a better chance of catching VanDam than anyone else.

Chapman is also making the long run to Venice, and the round trip accounts for about half of his fishing day. So no fog delays means he'll get about four hours to fish his spot instead of the 70 minutes he got with yesterday's nearly three hour fog delay.

"It's really, really awesome," Chapman said. "It's pretty exciting. When I walked out of the hotel and saw the building next to us, I got pretty excited. Having a full four hours to fish -- that's huge."

Chapman was able to put more than 20 pounds in the boat with only 70 minutes to fish on Day Two.

There's still a little fog hanging over the Mississippi River, but it's not near as bad as the past two days. Besides, Chapman's boat has a brand new Lowrance radar unit on the back deck. After fighting fog for two days, he had a new unit installed last night.

"That will help on the river," Chapman said.

-- Trey Reid


6:31
AM ET

No surprise Dean Rojas is throwing his signature frog this week. He seems to make it work everywhere he goes and under all conditions. The key color, he said is a super natural tone that will be introduced at ICAST this year. "The bait is a part of me," he said.

-- Pete Robbins


6:30
AM ET

The first thing I've done the last three days when alarm started blaring at 4 a.m. was walk over to the window and check for fog. The past two days weren't pretty. Even downtown New Orleans was covered.

With a similar forecast today, I was not optimistic this morning, but was thrilled to see no fog out the window. No fog on the 90 bridge over the Mississippi River, and pretty much no fog at the ramp.

If everything holds as is, this should be the first day of this Classic that the anglers will get a full day of fishing.

What we don't know, although we have guys heading that way as we speak, is what it looks like in Venice (or on the way).

The fact that they're launching on time (assuming they launch on time) is a huge deal for Brent Chapman, who is the only angler with a realistic shot at dethroning VanDam. Chapman needs a couple more things like this to go his way.

-- Kyle Carter


Day Two, February 19

5:19
PM ET

The anglers are in and the weigh-in is about to begin.

Were any questions answered today? Well, not really.

PHOTO GALLERY

Final OTW

Lake Cat still produced for KVD and Venice was even hotter on Day Two, even with the shortened fishing time.

Some anglers faltered as expected on the Delta. Aaron Martens had a disappointing day, Mike McClelland broke down and Bobby Lane couldn't catch fish fast enough.

Some got even better. John Crews posted a big mark, Brent Chapman kept the pace and KVD seems unstoppable.

One more day of fishing left. Who will make the top-25 cut and who will lift the 2011 Bassmaster Classic trophy?
Expect more of the same great live blog coverage on Sunday as the tournament concludes.

We are wrapping this blog up for the day, but make sure you follow the weigh-in here and the Real-time leaderboard here.

They're rolling.

-- Rob Russow


Blog Archive: Day Two l Day One l Media Day and practice