EVANS, Ga. When an angler crosses the stage and starts talking to emcee Keith Alan, the conversation usually goes one of two ways: 1.) They give as little information as possible about how they wacked them or 2.) They talk about the one (or ones) that got away.
Friday saw a lot of the latter.
"I lost about a seven-pounder at about 10:30 this morning," said local Jason Williamson, who is in 34th with 24 pounds, 6 ounces. "It kind of got me down in the dumps."
And then there was more.
"I had a six pounder shake off today, and that's the difference between 13 and 17 pounds," said Randy Howell, who sits in 12th with 30-2.
Brian Hugdins (6th, 34-11) said: "I had a seven pounder and a six pounder next to the boat today, but when I reached down to get them, they spit the bait."
Fred Roumbanis blames it on sharp teeth the bass have developed from eating the blueback herring, the bait fish of Clarks Hill Lake.
"Even though these fish are skinny, they fight hard," Roumbanis said.
Kelly Jordon (47th, 23-8) also blames the trouble on the blueback herring.
"It's just the way they're biting," Jordon said. "These fish bite so fast, it's like they're on turbo. I think they're trying to kill it sometimes when they're going after it.
"I'm going to do some stinger hook rigging tomorrow and say, 'Come on, swipe at it now sucker,'"
Rick Clunn at his limit
Rick Clunn caught another limit on Friday, as he has done every day of every tournament on the Elite Series thus far, but he has yet to make a cut in 2007.
He said he fished around Guy Eaker, who caught over 18 pounds, most of the day on Friday, but they weren't on the same bite.
"I'm just not catching the right fish," he said. "I feel like I'm around them, but I'm not catching them."
Clunn said he wasn't too disappointed to miss the cuts on the Western Swing, but as the fishing gets tougher, he feels like he should excel.
"I've never been good at catching four to six pounders," Clunn said. "But to miss the cut here is embarrassing. I must be off on some small variable."
VanDam's early exit
He made a move to jump from 82nd, and thought that with his Day Two weight of 14-12, he was safe. But as anglers continued to march to the scales, Kevin VanDam watched on the TV behind the stage as he slid down the standings.
Other gathered anglers also noticed. "Bubble man," Kevin Wirth told VanDam as soon as the screen popped up with his name at 50th with 11 anglers yet to weigh in.
"That's all I needed to see," VanDam said, making a dismissive motion toward the screen, and headed off. He finished 55th.
The last time VanDam, a two-time BASS Angler of the Year, didn't fish on the third day of an Elite Series event was after a disqualification on Santee-Cooper Reservoir 13 months ago. You have to go back another year, to Lake Guntersville in late February of 2005, to find the last time VanDam missed a 50-angler cut.
"The only way it'll be broken is if we go back to Clear Lake or to Sea World, one of the two." Preston Clark, on the new tournament weight record set at the last Elite Series event
"I had the worst day you could imagine. You might see an article in the newspaper: 'Doc's hanging in his hotel room.'" Doc Merkin
"These fish are just real wild right now. I would love to have another shot at them." Kevin VanDam
"Being away from my wife and son. Hands down, that's it." James Niggemeyer on the toughest part of his rookie season on the Elite Series.
"If they tell you it's rainy, it's sunny." Jeff Kriet, on the Elite Series anglers talking about how they can't find the fish before a tournament.
Editor's Note: Sunday, April 22, ESPNOutdoors.com will be having LIVE Video coverage of the Pride of Georgia, presented by Evan Williams Bourbon throughout the entire day. Check in at 6:15 a.m. ET for The Launch: LIVE! and see your favorite BASS Anglers take off for the day of competition. Check back at 10:00 a.m., noon, and 2:00 p.m.ET for Live video updates from the event with Bassmaster TV hosts Mark Zona, Tommy Sanders, and Jerry McKinnis. Elite Series: Hooked Up, the Bassmaster Elite Series Final Day pregame show, begins at 3:00 p.m. ET, followed immediately by the Final Day Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in where you can see who wins the $100,000 prize!