ZAPATA, Texas — Before the Lone Star Shootout on Falcon Lake, there were only 20 entries in the BASS "century club," which indicates a four-day, five-bass daily limit of 100 pounds or better.
Sunday that list grew by 12, as all 12 finalists this week totalled over 100 pounds. Well over 100 pounds, in most cases, as six of those 12 topped Steve Kennedy's previous record in this four-day, five-bass format of 122 pounds, 14 ounces, set a last year at California's Clear Lake.
Almost as much was predicted by the Bassmaster Elite Series pros after three days of practice this week at Falcon Lake.
"If Kennedy's record isn't broken, something went majorly wrong," said Mike McClelland at the anglers' meeting Wednesday evening.
Obviously, nothing went "majorly wrong" at this Rio Grande River impoundment, upstream from Lake Amistad, the site of the Elite Series "Battle on the Border," which begins Thursday. But, as crazy as this sounds, things didn't go majorly right this week either. If not for the high winds on Thursday and Friday, Falcon Lake likely would have produced even more gaudy numbers.
Those previous 20 entries in the "century club" have been compiled since 1994, when BASS went to the current format. Aaron Martens, Mike Iaconelli and Paul Elias were already members, but added a second entry under their names this week.
Big Show's Big Drain
The 44-pound, 4-ounce stringer that Terry Scroggins brought to the scales on Day Four nearly put him over the top, in several regards. But according to Ben Matsubu, it also contributed in a race to the bottom.
"I had a pretty rough day today, and I owe it to Big Show," Matsubu told the weigh-in crowd. "Every time he brought in a fish, the water would drop like 5 inches. About the time he got done out there he's only about 150 yards out there by the time he got done, my water was 5-foot lower. I think I could have gotten a 40-pound bag if it wasn't for that."
Were that tall tale true, it would put Scroggins in the company of Pecos Bill, whose legend says he dug the Rio Grande. "Big Show" emptying Falcon Lake by removing its bass is approximately on par.
The Show Me Some Love State
Missouri angler Scott Campbell enjoyed a memorable tournament, and not just because he seemed to have a knack for hauling 9-pounders aboard his rig.
"This is something that I'm going to remember for the rest of my life," Campbell said. "This week has been really special. I've got to thank everybody who helped me get here. My family, when I made the top 12, drove 14 hours starting last night. They had to have just gotten here."
The Campbell clan got to see the him move from ninth to seventh place, and total 120-1, a tourney mark that would have been the second-biggest in BASS history had not six anglers surpassed it on Day Four.
The last time Paul Elias won a BASS event was Oct. 16, 2004, when he took the Mississippi Citgo Bassmaster Open title at the Tenn-Tom Waterway with a three-day total of 34-3. Elias, by the way, had single-day bags twice at Falcon Lake this week that topped his three-day weight then 39-1 Friday and 37-11 Sunday.
Elias had to stop mid-sentence and regain his composure when trying to explain what Sunday's victory meant to him.
"This is really ," Elias said before tears welled in his eyes. "My life has been changing a lot. I thought I'd found the Lord before, but now I know I have. I've been knowing it for awhile.
"It just seems I finally let it all go and started working."
The mood got lighter when someone mentioned that, at age 56, Elias is often considered one of the "old men" on the tour.
Elias laughed, put his hand about three feet above the ground, and said, "I really like it when one of these 40-year-olds comes up to me and says, 'I've been watching you since I was about this tall.'"
Aaron Martens, crushed after losing a 7-plus-pound lead Sunday, still managed to pay tribute to Elias.
"I'm really happy for Paul," the 35-year-old Martens said. "He's always been one of my favorite fishermen. If it couldn't be me, I'm glad it was Paul."
"I've never seen a lake where you can catch 'em in, catch 'em out, catch 'em however you want to catch 'em. It's stupid." Terry Scroggins, on Falcon Lake
"I'm so tired I can't even speak." Rick Morris
"I was just sitting here thinking, I've lost two fish this week over 10 pounds. I think it's getting ready to cost me." Scroggins
"I watched him catch probably about half of those fish. I felt sick to my stomach; it was pretty disgusting." Mike Iaconelli, on watching Scroggins sack 44-4 on Day Four
"I'm from New Jersey, and a 10-pound fish is the fish of a lifetime back home. Here, they're common. Ten-pounders are little." Iaconelli
"This is far and away the most bizarre, strange, freaky fishery any of us have ever been to or will ever go to again. It's a freak show out there." Byron Velvick describing the unbelievable catches made at Falcon Lake this week