DEL RIO, Texas — When Jason Williamson dropped 33 pounds, 13 ounces on the scales on Day Three and rocketed from 38th to third, he set a precedent for the rest of the field that big bags could change the complexion of the leaderboard in a hurry.
Going into the final day, even tournament-leader Alton Jones' 7-pound advantage didn't seem insurmountable to Williamson because Lake Amistad is a big fish factory and his best spot has been relatively untouched.
"My main area hasn't been hurt by fishing pressure so I'm excited about that," Williamson said. "The wind and rain over the first two days really made the water milky and then finally on Day Three I pulled in there, it was clear as a whistle and the fishing went like clockwork — I probably culled 20 pounds of fish in there."
Williamson knows a little something about coming back from a big deficit. Last year on Lake Amistad, he was the leader going into the final day, but Todd Faircloth engineered a huge comeback to win the tournament.
This year, he hopes to be on the other end of that turnaround.
"Seven pounds is a big deficit anywhere else, but this is Lake Amistad," Williamson said. "One swing of the stick here and you can be right back in it. A 30-pound bag will do it — if I can catch what I caught yesterday, I think I'll have a shot."
One problem looms for Williamson: none of the anglers have been able to string together back-to-back big bags. That is what Jones is counting on to help him to his first big-time victory in his home state of Texas.
"The big bags are always going to come on Lake Amistad," Jones said. "But nobody has doubled up the big bag — there is nobody that has caught two of them. So for those guys that caught a big bag yesterday, it almost makes them less likely to catch one today."
Jones has been the model of consistency bringing in sacks between 22 and 24 pounds to take the lead on Day Three by just under two pounds over Gary Klein.
Klein had opened up a large lead on Day Two, but his deep bite collapsed on Saturday and he had to bail out and go shallow to catch a small limit and make the cut.
"Boat traffic on top of the structure I am fishing, in this clear water, it completely changes the personality of the fish," Klein said. "Yesterday, the fish pushed off and they are on the outside of the structure and harder to fish."
Despite the setback yesterday, he is well within striking distance of his first victory on Lake Amistad and Klein sees an added advantage with the new wind direction.
"Wind direction is the biggest change for me today and it will allow me to position on some of the places I haven't fished yet," Klein said. "I have a whole set of structure that I haven't even been able to fish because the north wind has been blowing on it."
With the deep bite, Klein could pull up on an area and boat the winning stringer in minutes, but there is also the risk that he could have a day like yesterday.
Another angler that is dangerously within striking distance of the tournament title is Dean Rojas. The fact that he is in eighth place and 10 pounds behind Jones doesn't seem to bother him.
His 29-pound stringer on Day Three is proof that Rojas is around fish and he is approaching the final day with a positive attitude, knowing that it would take a massive effort to pull off the win.
"If this were Old Hickory or a smaller body of water that doesn't have the capability for big fish, I would say it is over," Rojas said. "This lake, man, someone could catch a 35-pound sack today. I don't want to wish anything bad on anyone, but this is a lake that houses big ones and I don't think anyone is out of this."
Rojas is going into the day just trying to move into the third-place position and gain some valuable Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year points, but he knows that he is just a few big bites away from making a serious run at the title.
"We've got some crazy weather this morning and then it's supposed to get sunny in the afternoon," Rojas said. "I need some wind and some clouds and I think I'll get that for a good part of the day. Those big fish, when it gets funky in the afternoon, they bite better."
Rojas will need every big bite he can get to overcome the large lead that Jones has build over most of the rest of the field.
Get in on the coverage starting with "Hooked Up" with Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona at 1:00 p.m. ET and 4:25 p.m. ET only on Bassmaster.com.