Good, not good enough
HUDDLESTON, Va. After leading following the opening two rounds of the Evan Williams Bourbon Blue Ridge Brawl, Jason Williamson was overtaken by the freight train that is Skeet Reese during the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season.
Williamson, of Wagener, S.C., weighed in another solid 15-pound, 3-ounce bag on Saturday. But Reese's haul of 21-13 moved him into the lead.
Windy conditions ruled the day during the third round, but Williamson said it did not affect his day.
"The wind's not killing me, it's helping Skeet," said Williamson, whose 51-14 total trails Reese by 6-5 entering Sunday's final round. "I caught a good bag. I mean, 15-3 is pretty respectable bag here. But Skeet's on a tear.
"He's fishing good and he's got a lot of confidence."
Reese leads the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings after finishing second and fifth in the first two tournaments of the season.
But Williamson, a winner on Lake Amistad at Del Rio, Texas, in 2009, said he's not giving up, especially if there is less wind on Sunday.
"It could be a slick day tomorrow," he said. "It could play into my hands.
"I could come in with 20 [pounds] and he could come in with 12. It's not over yet. I'm going down swinging."
Jordon gets lucky
Kelly Jordon was fortunate in more ways than one to catch a big smallmouth on Day Three. He knew there was one on a bed, so he cast his bait out to where he thought it was.
"I had a little backlash, so I started pulling it out," Jordon said. "All of a sudden, I see a big smallmouth swimming past my boat with my lure in her mouth. I reeled up my line and set the hook and barely hooked her in the lower jaw."
That fish put Jordon over the 14-pound mark for the day and he finished in 21st place for the tournament with 41 pounds, 15 ounces.
Kennedy's magic dock
On Friday, Steve Kennedy found a dock late in the day that had three or four big largemouth around it. He went back there first thing Saturday morning throwing a swimbait and didn't get a bite. On the next dock, he lost a 4-pounder and then went sight fishing to catch his limit.
"Once I had my limit I got back on the swimbait and pulled back up to that dock and caught a 3.5-pound smallmouth," Kennedy said. "I kept fishing and caught nothing so I went back to that same dock and caught another 3.5-pound smallmouth."
At this point Kennedy was floored because the only smallmouth he had caught all week came from a bed in about a foot of water. But things were about to get crazier.
"When I was reeling that second smallie in, I could see a big 4- to 5-pound largemouth right there trying to take the bait out of its mouth," Kennedy said. "I was sitting down trying to cull and that largemouth was sitting right at my feet. By the time I got back up there, it was gone."
Kennedy still managed 14 pounds, 12 ounces on the day and finished the tournament in 24th place.
Four for naught
Guy Eaker of Cherryville, N.C., was in contention to make his second consecutive final-day cut. But his four-bass stringer weighing only 6-11 left him in 44th place and out of the tournament.
Worse for Eaker was the fact that he had four large fish get off after being hooked.
"You know, I wish I'd never even seen the son of a guns than to have them come off," Eaker said, laughing. "I use a little bit bigger barb on my spinnerbait for that very reason. But they shook it and, blip, out they come.
"I'm pretty good with the stick. Usually when I get them, I get them. I don't know what happened."
Eaker was one of the few fishermen who did not spend the early part of the tournament sight fishing for spawning bass.
"Today, I found some up in the river casting around some old logs down in the water," he said. "I think there's still some good ones there. If I could have been able to fish tomorrow, I really believe I was on them.
No go KVD
Kevin VanDam's frustrating 2010 season continued Saturday.
VanDam, the five-time and defending Bassmaster Angler of the Year, will not be fishing on the final day for the third consecutive tournament. His 11-2 stringer on Saturday left him with 41-10 for the tournament, good enough for 22nd place.
"I never really got any of these bigger fish to bite," he said. "One or two bites can totally change your whole event, and I didn't get those."
Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., needed a big bag to make a charge to reach the top 12 on Saturday. He got his big stringer, but fell achingly short.
Rook, the final angler to weigh in Saturday, needed 15-15 to move into 12th place. But his final bag weighed 15-5, leaving him in 15th place.
"But if I was in 12th place, I don't know what I'd go catch tomorrow," he said. "That was everything I had, so I would have been just looking.
"I'm tickled. I'm not much of a sight fisherman, and that's all I did all week."
"If I weigh five fish like these tomorrow, there's going to be one heckuva party in Virgina."
"If you make the Top 12 you can't fall very far."
"I'm not much of a bed fisherman, but there's a lot of fish up that river."
"I had one 5-pounder I spent probably 5 hours on during this tournament and never did catch him."
"I think I burned up 50 gallons of gas trying to catch a swimbait fish today."
"Just making the cut felt like winning the tournament ... sight fishing is just not my deal."
"I lost a fish so big today, I might as well went on and loaded the boat on the trailer, it messed me up all day."
"I said if I made the cut, I would throw a swim bait from daylight to dusk out here today. And I caught 11-2 out here throwing a swim bait."
"I stuck with myt game plan, but 30-mph wind made it pretty tough."