ZAPATA, Texas — A little game of one-upsmanship broke out on the shore of Falcon Lake this morning, as the BASS Elite Series pros prepared to fish Day Three of the Lone Star Shootout, presented by Longhorn.
"The first day, I weighed in 29-15, the biggest ever sack I've weighed in a BASS tournament," said angler Kenyon Hill, "and no one clapped."
"I weighed in 29 pounds," replied angler Rick Morris, "and I got only one clap."
"I held up a 9-pounder," added Scott Campbell, "and the crowd was like, 'awww.'"
Just whose amazing fishing feat will go most unappreciated this week? Hard to know yet, but there's an excellent chance it'll be the anglers who make the final cut today, fish Day Four, and barely make the top 10 — while breaking the much-ballyhooed BASS benchmark of 100 pounds.
In all, 44 anglers caught more than 50 pounds in two days. Assuming the fish hold up on Falcon, it looks like the only thing stopping the so-called BASS Century Club from doubling or perhaps even tripling is that only 12 anglers will fish Sunday.
Even for an angler such as Hill, who with 54 pounds in two days sits in 28th, hopelessly out of the lead, the chance to break 100 pounds is a motivator.
"It'd be a landmark in your career," he said. "I don't care where you get it, that's a feather in your hat."
BASS records aren't as static as in some other sports: Changing tournament formats over the years mean some numbers are hard to compare against the past.
The Century Club is such a number. When anglers weighed in seven fish a day instead of the current five, 100 pounds wasn't such a feat (though that's not to diminish Blake Honeycutt's 138-06 winning weight in the Eufaula National in 1969.)
With a five-fish limit in a four-day tournament, achieving 100 pounds of bass in a four-day tournament requires a 5-pound average. "That's like a hitter hitting for the cycle," angler Marty Stone said. "A pitcher throwing a no-hitter. He may not be the best pitcher in the league, but on that day, he was great. You were really at the top of your game."
Stone's not overstating the gravity of the mark. Between 1974 and Dean Rojas' 108-12 on Lake Toho in 2001, no one caught 100 pounds of bass at this level — a span of 312 tournaments. And it took another five years before another angler, Ish Monroe, weighed another 100-pound sack — a span of 103 tournaments.
With the creation of the Elite Series, now in its third season, BASS made a point to send the tour to big-fish lakes at their peak times. The result is 13 more anglers joined Rojas and Monroe in the Century Club in 2006 and 2007, and from just three lakes: Santee Cooper, Lake Amistad and Clear Lake.
Falcon Lake so far is making those fisheries look like golf course ponds. Six anglers topped 100 pounds at Clear Lake last year. If their pace holds, all 12 of the Day Four anglers stand to break the hallowed mark here.
"That's my goal," said Ben Matsubu (23rd place, 55-1). "Most of us want to break 100 pounds. When we go to these lakes with these huge fish in them, you want to do it.
"You've got to make the 12-cut to have a chance at that century mark."
Well, unless you're in the top five. All of those anglers have a great chance to break the mark on Day Three — and the top two, Aaron Martens and Byron Velvick, look like certainties to do exactly that.
But making the 12-cut will almost surely guarantee an angler a solid chance at the century mark. Said Hill: "If you can't catch 20 pounds here on the last day, you deserve to have your ass kicked."
Rojas (27th, 54-3) went to bed Friday night pondering the century mark. If he reaches it, he'll join Steve Kennedy as the only anglers to achieve it three times.
But to do that, he'll need to leapfrog 15 other anglers and make up a 3-10 deficit behind the current 12th place angler, Gary Klein.
Reminded of this, Rojas said, "Oh, I will be fishing tomorrow."
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Lone Star Shootout on Falcon Lake, from Zapata, Texas, April 3–6, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:50pm ET. "Hooked Up" will air Sunday at 10 a.m., noon and 5:15 p.m. ET.