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Live Blog

3/20/2011


Editor's note: To get more liveliness out of the live blog, refresh your page.

3:45
PM ET

All the anglers are headed back toward the weigh-in, which for the most part means their day is over. Scroggins has a few close places to hit around the take-out area. He finished his limit within site of the weigh-in earlier today.

We don't know if he will get the chance to hit some of those close places are not. But unless someone pulls off a last-minute heroic catch, we are still where we were earlier: Too close to call.

Promises to be a cool weigh-in, one of those really good ones that will be worth watching.

Unless something drastic or really good happens, this should be our last post on the blog.

-- Steve Bowman


3:24
PM ET

James Overstreet just got off the water and sent us his on the water gallery.

PHOTO GALLERY

Click Here

Expect to see a lot of Todd Faircloth and Alton Jones as they began Day Four of the Power-Pole Citrus Slam fishing on the same shallow flat in Lake George.

-- Mike Suchan


3:19
PM ET

Scroggins just cranked up a 4-pounder from Wilson's Cove and culled with it.

He should have 20 pounds now and may have caught Evers. This one looks like it's going down to the wire! With just 5 percent battery power left on my phone, I'll save it for big news.

-- Ken Duke


3:15
PM ET

Someone once said "watched water never boils." I'm starting to feel that watching BASSTrakk.

I keep expecting at any moment numbers were start rolling in and the leader board will start shifting and sliding, moving around.

But outside of these 1/2-pound changes, it's basically stayed the same.

Evers could have widened the gap. Scroggins and Jones could have more or less than what we have for them on BASSTrakk. Nothing seems to be taking place to make this an easy one to call.

It sucks when you are rooting for all three of them. Then again, it's also nice because all three of them are doing great. And we are pretty certain that at this point it is a three-horse race.

Less than an hour to go and if someone makes a move it better come quick.

-- Steve Bowman


3:07
PM ET

Anyone who knows him or follows the sport will tell you that Big Show is one of the nicest and easiest going anglers on tour.

Scroggins seems impervious to pressure and always has a smile on his face. That he's one of the very best in the business doesn't hurt either.

He's solid everywhere, but especially tough on Florida waters, where his record is second to none. He's won a BASS event here before and may take this one.

-- Ken Duke


2:59
PM ET

An update from Wes Miller, Evers' cameraman, tells us that the BASSTrakk may be a little light.

Miller, who has been running a camera in a boat in every one of these Elite events, believes Evers' weight is heavier than what we have.

We side with Wes and know that a lot of these weights might get fudged on the water. But at a closer-to-accurate 17 pounds, that puts Evers ahead of Scroggins and Jones by about 2 pounds.

But we still think this one is too close to call at the moment.

Scroggins is still catching them and Jones is edging up as well. Lot of fun to still be had this last hour of this event.

-- Steve Bowman


2:57
PM ET

Mark Zona just back into cell range and his new videos throughout the morning are making their way into BASSCam. Check it out as he breaks down Todd Faircloth.

-- Mike Suchan


2:54
PM ET

Brown's Landing is where Scroggins has stopped to cast a crankbait very near the Palatka Yacht Club.

Scroggins fans are hoping Evers gets caught in the falling water behind a sandbar in Crescent Lake, but that's very unlikely.

Scroggins needs one more nice fish to feel good about his chances in this tournament.

We're very close to the check-in and weigh-in area, so he's maximizing his fishing time, but time is running out.

If he loses, it'll be easy to point to that spawning female in the back of the canal as the one he needed and couldn't get.

-- Ken Duke


2:50
PM ET

Scroggins' move may have left Ken Duke behind. Just a few minutes after Duke's last entry, BASSTrakk blinged with a 3-pound catch that upgrades Scroggins to around the 19-pound mark, which is the upside of Scroggins' guess.

But Scroggins always guesses light. We still have him in second place behind Evers, but only by 7 ounces. Jones is behind them, but he's been culling up and is less than 11 ounces from Evers.

We keep thinking someone will drive a stake in the heart of the others, and produce a little gap between these guys. Doesn't seem to be happening. The last time these three were this close was at the take-off on Day One.

After two weeks of being in Florida, I'm actually starting to worry about a tie, and the resulting fish-off.

-- Steve Bowman

Note: The editors of Bassmaster.com, although thinking this has been a truly fantastic and interesting event, vote that there has to be a tiebreaker. The event cannot go on another day. We vote for something scientific, like the biggest fish, or perhaps the prettiest boat wrap.


2:45
PM ET

Leaving our boat at the mouth of a creek at Shell Bluff, I hiked along the creekbank to see if I could find Edwin Evers.

I did -- just as he was bringing in a 2 1/2 pounder. It culled one of his smaller fish, probably gaining him a half pound or so.

Every little bit helps, especially today. At the back end, this creek widens into a small pond. After culling, he worked another bass for 5 minutes before it bit.

It wasn't the giant that lives here, but it weighed about 3 pounds and no doubt would have helped him. He fought it around the boat before it leaped out of the water and then went down, apparently breaking his line. He's retying now and ready to toss back into the bed.

-- David Hunter Jones


2:43
PM ET

Scroggins worked a big female on a bed for about 30 minutes to no avail.

Now he's scouring the canals looking for another big bedding bass. He says he has 18 or 19 pounds.
Yesterday he said he thought he'd need 20 pounds to make a run at first place. We're on the move again!

-- Ken Duke


2:25
PM ET

Kelly Jordon has finally showed up on the board today.

He has two fish that weigh around 9-8. That's a pretty good average. One of those is an 8-5. It was caught first.

Not a whole lot of big moves other than that. The three leaders are still moving and making decisions. But at the moment none of them have made a decisive strike.

-- Steve Bowman


2:05
PM ET

Eleven Bassmaster Classic champions never won another event after winning their first Classic.

Alton Jones desperately wants to cut that number to 10, but he'll need some late inning heroics to do it.

He almost pulled it off at Amistad a couple of years ago, but ultimately lost to Jason Williamson.

Here at the St. Johns, Jones has led all three days, but he has seen his lead dwindle. There's time, but not much!

-- Ken Duke


2:02
PM ET

Edwin Evers has finally vacated Salt Creek and driven about 4 miles south on Crescent Lake, where he entered another small creek.

This one winds about 1/4 mile inland, according to a local tournament angler we encountered. He said there are three good spawning areas for Evers to fish.

Neither of us wanted to enter the creek and risk spooking fish in an area Evers planned to fish.
Another spectator said Evers missed a really heavy bass in here yesterday. If he can get that one to bite, he'll help his chances tremendously.

-- Dave Precht


1:52
PM ET

Scroggins just caught a bass off the bed back in the canal and culled with it. I'm 75 yards away and watching with binoculars, but it looked like he boated a 3 and culled a 2, so he picked up about a pound.

Now he's moving farther back in the canal and wants no company. We'll watch the best we can from here. He clearly has more spawners in the back of this canal. Are they enough?

-- Ken Duke


1:47
PM ET

This event is so tight at the moment there is no way anyone could make a call on how this could play out.

BASSTrakk has Evers in the lead, Scroggins 1 pound, 5 ounces back, Jones is 1-6 back.

You have to realize that BASSTrakk is not completely accurate. These are the best guesses of Marshals who in the case of these three anglers are sitting in a chase boat. Cameramen are actually in the boats with the anglers. So these best guesses are made from a distance.

Another thing to keep in mind is how difficult it has been for the anglers to get real accurate on these bigger fish. Very seldom have they been real close this week, when those bigger fish get in the boat.

All of that to say, that we could easily say any of those three are leading at the moment and not know the real difference.

This is the kind of race we like to see on Day Four. A couple days ago, Alton Jones appeared to be blowing out the field. He knew that wouldn't last. I guess everyone did. But we never anticipated it getting this tight.

Two and a half more hours of exchanging these kind of blows between those three and I'm not sure some of us can stand it. Then again, this is what make this sport exciting. Pretty cool to actually see it develop.

-- Steve Bowman


1:45
PM ET

Scroggins is working what must be a pretty good bedding fish in the back of a canal near the mouth of Crescent Lake. We're about 75 yards away, and he's using a spinning rod and small plastic worm to aggravate the bass into striking.

The spectator boats are laying way back, but other fans have come out of their homes to watch Big Show work. He lives just a few minutes from the launch in San Mateo and is a local favorite.

-- Ken Duke


1:34
PM ET

David Hunter Jones has returned to the boat with some new tales of Evers' exploits. Whereas I thought earlier that Evers was freeing a snagged lure, he was actually using an extendable limb trimmer to clear a lane so he could cast to a bed!

Jones also said that agonizing yell I heard earlier was when Evers missed a big bass that struck his lure -- just as I suspected.

-- Dave Precht


11:22
PM ET

Checking in on Big Show now. Terry Scroggins is way back in a canal off Crescent Lake. A spectator boat tells us he's just an 8-pounder, but he's so far back and the canal is so narrow, we can't get to him. When we got within 75 yards or so, he waved us back.

-- Ken Duke


11:15
PM ET

You always hear anglers talk about catching a "kicker."

Well one of those "kickers" just bit for Scroggins. BASSTrakk is reporting an 8-0 brute for him. That pushes his total catch on the day up to 17-12. He is 1-5 pounds back from Evers. It's going to be tight.

-- Hank Weldon


1:14
PM ET

Evers is working a shallow cut behind a very shallow sandbar. With a falling tide, the water will get even shallower, but he knows how to get in and out.

He's working on a couple of good fish and has done some creative landscaping to some willow trees to give him better access.

-- Ken Duke


1:08
PM ET

The mouth of Salt Creek is obviously loaded with bass. Evers appears to be investing the rest of his day in the sheltered, tiny tributary of Crescent Lake.

He moved about 100 yards into the creek and has been pitching to beds around the first bend, but without anything more than a vicious strike to show for it.

Strikes alone don't count for much in tournament standings, but they make for good weigh-in tales and, of course, fodder for the live fishing blog. Evers has pushed around the bend and deeper into the creek now, out of sight of his faithful spectators and me.

-- Dave Precht


12:55
PM ET

Zona just sends a text that Alton Jones is leaving the main body of Lake George to hit some canals.

The wind has definitely hurt him today. He knows that he has to catch some big ones if he wants to pull this off.

In Zona's words: "The main-lake sight-fishing is toast."

-- Steve Bowman


12:47
PM ET

While our leaders keep jockeying around each other, Steve Kennedy is making sure that he makes a showing on this final day.

He just caught a 7-pound fish that moves him up the standings with almost 15 pounds on the day.

He's still 10 pounds behind Evers, who seems to be stretching his lead little by little. But Kennedy looks to be having a good day.

-- Steve Bowman


12:46
PM ET

We're now in Crescent Lake, in view of Edwin Evers, who's looking more and more like the man to beat in this derby.

In a league full of anglers who like to describe themselves as "versatile," Evers and Mark Davis probably deserve that description more than just about anyone else. Evers is pitching to bedding fish and working them slowly and methodically.

Whatever he's doing seems to working. A spectator boat tells us he's caught one that will weigh 7 or better. It just might be the fish that puts him over the top.

-- Ken Duke


12:45
PM ET

Five hours are gone on this final day of the Power Pole Citrus Slam. BASSTrakk is reporting seven limits now and 47 total keepers.

In Tommy's blog earlier he stated that Jones had about 8 pounds. We're thinking he is probably somewhere in between 8 pounds and the 11-3 that BASSTrakk is showing. Basically it makes it too close to call.

Also, still no word from Kelly Jordan. We have a camera boat checking in on him.

-- Hank Weldon


12:35
PM ET

Kennedy's using some maps that are almost 40 years old and show some areas as "off limits" because they were spawning grounds. He got them from his father, Van, who qualified for the Classic back in 1982 from the Federation Nation.

Van still beats up his fellow bass clobbers out of Fort Valley, Ga., where he took AOY honors last year. He's widely considered one of the best crankbaiters in the state.

-- Ken Duke


12:31
PM ET

The entry into Salt Creek on Crescent Lake has paid off for Edwin Evers. After catching a male bass that was nearly big enough to cull a smaller fish (I couldn't tell from here which one he dropped into the water) Evers set back on a sure-enough keeper, one pushing 3 pounds.

I guess that would upgrade his limit by about 1 1/2 pounds. He immediately returned to the same shady nook. Either a bigger bass remains to be caught from there, or another bed is nearby.

-- Dave Precht


12:25
PM ET

Cameraman James Massey says that Alton now has a limit around 8 pounds. Staying with the frog for now.

-- Tommy Sanders


12:20
PM ET

We've things have temporarily slowed for Faircloth -- we've moved about a mile to check out Alton who is casti ng a frog downwind and we've seen it get blasted a couple of time.

Zona says that Faircloth knows that one big bite could do it for him But he he as seen this area get sifted for three solid days. He also knows that the sight fishermen are getting hurt bigtime today.
He's strictly target fishing, constantly moving his boat and throwing at everything he can -- blind bed fishing is what he has totally committed to today and it looks as if he will live or die by that.

A smaller one gets Alton's frog and the 13 incher goes in the livewell.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:55
AM ET

Wish you could see this: A huge, shallow sandbar blocks the entrance to Salt Creek, where Edwin Evers is sight fishing. So David Hunter Jones has shed his shoes and is wading in toward the mouth of the creek to shoot photos.

Yesterday we saw a stingray in the middle of Lake George, and this morning we saw an 8-foot alligator off this sandbar. I'm impressed at Jones' determination to get a good shot of the action.

Look for his photogallery on Bassmaster.com later this afternoon. He also got some great shots of Evers fighting that 7-pounder.

-- Dave Precht


11:55
AM ET

Edwin Evers' big bass a little while ago came at the last opportune moment. Within minutes of boating the fish, the east wind came on in fury, making it hard to stand on deck, much less cast to any beds on the western shore.

CITRUS SLAM

Aerial images

He left that spot and tried to enter a tiny creek nearby but nearly got stuck inside. It took some strenuous work on the push-pole to make headway against the wind.

Evers ran to the northeast shore and tried to enter a small creek, but it is blocked by a huge fallen tree. Next he entered Salt Creek, where he's sight fishing just inside the mouth.

We can't see him clearly, but it doesn't appear that he's added to his weight. Right now, he is working on tackle, perhaps searching for a lure this fish fancies more.

-- Dave Precht


11:34
AM ET

Steve Kennedy is just north of Pine Island, in some heavy eel grass. He told me before takeoff that he had a topwater pattern that should be good for 12-15 pounds.

He said he'd be working a swimbait across the top of the water, looking for aggressive fish, but right now it looks like he's drop shotting a lizard in holes in the cover.

Steve thought there would be about 15 pounds of bass in his primary area after his stellar day yesterday.

-- Ken Duke


11:26
AM ET

And a big fish finally eats. Edwin Evers just boated a 7-00 brute. That gives him five fish that will weigh an estimated 15-2 pounds. Oh and by the way, that gives him a 7-6 lead over Todd Faircloth.

BASSTrakk is now showing Evers, Faircloth, Scroggins, Ashley, and Kennedy with limits. Tucker and Vandam have two fish in their boat. Wilks and McCaghren both have one keeper.

Combs has caught one short fish and we still do not have any fish catches to report from Jones or Jordan.

The wind is now starting to pick up. It will be interesting to see who adjusts to the changing conditions.

-- Hank Weldon


11:20
AM ET

An interesting trend is starting to take place on Lake George. The wind is picking up according to the bloggers on the water.

Looking at the tracking on BASSTrakk, we've been watching the nine boats that are in Lake George.

Of those, seven of them have headed to the east side, we are assuming to get out of the wind. Only two remain on the west shore, where the brunt of the wind is hitting. They are J. Todd Tucker and Kelly Jordon.

Jordon has yet to score a keeper.

-- Steve Bowman


11:19
AM ET

Alton Jones refuses to go away quietly. In the last 10 minutes, he's finished out his limit. He has about 9 pounds, which moves back up in the standings.

He's still in second, some 3-pounds out the lead and behind Edwin Evers.

-- Steve Bowman


11:16
AM ET

Todd Faircloth fishes on---another small one but will cull a fish. We've got him somewhere in the 13-14 pound range. We've got a solid 10 to 15 breeze now---there's no looking at them here in this lake. Clouds are moving across faster and thicker.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:15
AM ET

Todd Faircloth just caught a bass in Willow Creek and culled with it. He high-fived Mark Zona, but the bass was a very small one. He gained an ounce or two, but not pounds, like he needs.

-- Ken Duke


11:14
AM ET

Alton Jones is finally on the board. He just boated a 1-13 pound fish. That jumped him up to fourth place and 10-12 behind Evers. Jones has lead wire-to-wire so far. Can he seal the deal today?

-- Hank Weldon


11:05
AM ET

Forget what I said about the wind not being a factor! It is -- at least here in Willow Creek. It's got to be giving Alton Jones and anyone else trying to sight fish fits! Spotting beds and fish in this is beyond tough. He'll need a Plan B or another area out of the wind. It's even making it tough to type on this iPhone!

-- Ken Duke


10:59
AM ET

Alton finds himself in disturbingly familiar territory. A couple of years ago he opened the season with a strong performance at Lake Amistad, leading going into the final round. On the last day, however, Jason Williamson mounted a tremendous comeback to take the win. It was a big disappointment for Alton. He wanted the win in his home state and wanted the strong start to his season and run at AOY.

-- Ken Duke


10:54
AM ET

Since winning the Bassmaster Classic in 2008, Alton Jones has become more determined than ever to win an AOY title. The Classic has anchored his career and given him the kind of recognition that only that championship offers, but he craves the prestige of AOY. It really is the most prestigious title in the sport and comes with more respect than the Classic.

-- Ken Duke


10:52
AM ET

Edwin Evers finally coaxed a bass he's been flirting with for nearly an our into biting -- and it got off. The fish, which looked to be 2 or 3 pounds, wallowed in the reeds that protect its nest, but Evers was able to work it out of the tangle. About halfway back to the boat, it rolled on the surface and spit the hook. My heart was pounding and Evers was shaking his head at the loss.

He quickly backed his boat up and moved a little left for a different angle and is pitching again into the same spot. He is using a Yum Money Craw in white. Now, after just losing the fish, he has gotten the fish to bite twice more, and he's missed on both hooksets. I don't know who's more persistent, Evers or the fish.

Finally, after several empty swings, he connects and skis the fish to the boat. It's a 2 1/2 pounder and obviously the mail guarding the next. "I caught him two days ago," Evers believes. He stocked the fish into his livewell -- it will add to his creel -- and is now working to get the bigger female to bite. "She's just nipping at my bait," he reported. I can't wait to see the size of a bass he's invested so much of his tournament day trying to catch.

The wind has switched to the east and is definitely challenging Evers in his attempt. He has to use "Kentucky windage" to target the spot with his money craw.

Hold on, as I('m writing this, Evers just stuck the fish, fought it out of the weeds and around both sides of his boat. It's huge, and he's talking to himself. "Please stay on," he says, "please stay on." It does, and he manages to lip a 7-pounder that will greatly help his cause. He's collected six spectator boats by now, and his audience claps and cheers. Having a front row seat for this is just about the most excitement a fisherman can have without actually fishing.

-- Dave Precht


10:49
AM ET

We're now on the east side of Lake George -- Willow Cove to be exact -- where we've found Kevin VanDam and Keith Combs. Alton Jones has just pulled in behind us. KVD is throwing a frog or rat-type bait across the top of some very heavy eel grass. Combs and Jones appear to be sight fishing.

-- Ken Duke


10:39
AM ET

Edwin Evers finally coaxed the bass he's been flirting with for nearly an our into biting -- and she got off. The fish, which looked to be 5 pounds or better, wallowed in the reeds that protect her nest, but Evers was able to work her out of the tangle. About halfway back to the boat, it rolled on the surface and spit the hook. My heart was pounding but Evers barely showed any emotion at the loss. He backed his boat up and moved a little left for a different angle and is pitching again into the same spot. He is using a Yum Money Craw in white. Now, after just losing the fish, he has gotten the fish to bite twice more, and he's missed on both hooksets. I don't know who's more persistent, Evers or he fish. I can't wait to see who wins this battle.

As my companion, David Hunter Jones, just said, "This is intense."

-- Dave Precht


10:37
AM ET

The latest from BASSTrakk has Scroggins with a limit that weighs in around 11-7. That puts him in the lead by just over 2-pounds.

Second is Edwin Evers with three that weigh 5-2.

Faircloth is third for 7-8

Alton Jones has dropped to fourth, still no catches.

Steve Kennedy is in fifth with a limit of 8-14 ounces, some 8 pounds behind Scroggins.

-- Steve Bowman


9:33
AM ET

We're watching Alton Jones from a distance and still haven't seen a fish catch yet. Lost one for sure and maybe some swings and misses.

This breeze was 5 mph or maybe a bit less when we arrived. It's now pumping around 10 mph. Much love for Power-Poles.

Todd is still methodically casting his Senko -- trying very hard for perfect casts and not afraid to wind in and recast three times in a row if necessary.

Zona says that Todd thinks the bigger fish are found on the grass edges and the little ones pile up in the thicker mat. The bottom is very sandy and hard for optimum spawning.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:28
AM ET

The wind that so many were talking about hasn't seemed to be a big factor yet -- at least not on the southwest side of Lake George.

It's enough to make running the main lake a little rough, but the eelgrass helps to buffer it in the shallows.

-- Ken Duke


9:26
AM ET

It's calm here on the western shore of Crescent Lake where Edwin Evers is fishing.

He's switched from a white tube to a white skirted jig with a bulky trailer. White is helpful in sight fishing because it shows up better in the tannic water and enables the fishermen to see whether it's in the sweet spot of the bed.

If the Evers has now spent 45 minutes working on this fish. I've lost count of how many times he's pitched to her. Once or twice I've seen him tense up as if he were about to set the hook, but she apparently didn't follow through on the bite, or dropped the bait before he could rear back.

-- Dave Precht


9:25
AM ET

So far in this young season, J. Todd Tucker has been the best Elite angler on Day One -- 73 percent better than the average angler. He's been no slouch on Day Two, either, ranking sixth, 68 percent above the average.

If he can keep it up, this will be a breakthrough year for the Georgia pro. A win here on the St. Johns would be huge for him.

-- Ken Duke


9:20
AM ET

Comebacks are very possible on this body of water.

Peter Thliveros did it in the 2008 Open here.

After two days, Peter T was tied for fourth with 29 pounds, 3 ounces, far behind leader Jonathon VanDam, who went into the final day with 40-3. That's an 11-pound difference.

Well, JVD managed only 7-10 on Day Three to open for door. Peter T walked right through with a 26-pound bag for a 55-3 total and the title.

With the big-fish possibilities and not many bass in the mid-ranges, the St. Johns River can be feast or famine. Expect some shaking up today.

With 60-10, Alton Jones only has a 2-9 lead on Edwin Evers.

Todd Faircloth is four pounds back of Evers, but everyone says to watch out for Terry Scroggins, who had the advantage of fishing his home water. He's at 53-15, and needs to make up he's 6-11 on Jones. That's one fish.

J. Todd Tucker, the only other angler with a realistic shot, is at 53-15.

Man, this is getting tense.

-- Mike Suchan


9:11
AM ET

Just made the long -- and punishing -- run to the west side of Lake George.

J. Todd Tucker has a big flat full of eelgrass all to himself. That's the kind of break it'll take for him to win here.

He's sight fishing and has been sharing his water with several of the leaders plus some local anglers, but now he's alone with a single spectator boat and things aren't going his way. He has just a pair of small keepers to show for his morning.

-- Ken Duke


9:09
AM ET

Edwin Evers has spotted a fish on a bed tucked in amongst the reeds.

It must be a big one; Evers has now spent 30 minutes trying to catch it. He's pitching a white tube lure on light line toward the bed and adding a finesse touch to keep from spooking the fish.

He pitches precisely into the reeds shielding the bed, then shakes his lure softly to get it to slither down the reeds and into the bed.

If it lands a little off target, he reels in for another pitch. It takes two or three pitches sometimes for him to place the bait exactly where he wants it.

This is clearly a game of inches -- inches off and he doesn't have a chance the bass will bite.

Dave Precht


9:06
AM ET

Todd Faircloth gets another quick hookup and skims a smaller bass back to the boat. He measures and it goes in the box.

Zona says 1-pounder. Todd is bringing the info.

He says another key is to remember the holes where you catch the male, then go back and long pitch to that exact same spot to try for the female.

Four fish for Faircloth, maybe 11 pounds.

Keith Combs picks up and moves about a mile to the east. We hear Kevin VanDam crank up and move, too.

-- Tommy Sanders


8:59
AM ET

Watch the live video update from Dave Mercer here at 10 a.m. ET.

Live video update


9:55
AM ET

We still haven't seen Evers catch a fish, but he's set up on a bed at the inlet to the pocket, right at a point of reeds.

Like other pros we've seen this week, he's standing on the trolling motor bracket to gain a little extra height and a better angle to see into the tannic stained water.

Evers is pitching with spinning gear; his reel is spooled with 8-pound line. The light line is necessary for him to get the fish to bite, Evers said.

"I'd use 20-pound if I could get away with it."

Judging from the size of the bass the anglers have seen in the thick weeds around here, even 20 might not be enough. I wish he would hook into a giant here. It would be exciting to see him battle a 10 or better on 8-pound string!

I don't think this place he's fishing has a name, but I'd call it "Buzzards' Roost."

I count about 30 turkey vultures perched on dead limbs a few dozen yards behind him. This part of Florida is a wildlife haven, especially for birds and alligators. We've seen big 'gators almost everywhere we've been, including one at the mouth of Salt Creek a little while ago.

We tried to get a closeup photo of a huge bald eagle on a bird perch in Lake George yesterday, but it flew away before we could get our cameras out. What a beautiful sight!

The scenery here on the St. Johns and its interconnected lakes is postcard beautiful as well.

"If you ever plan a photo shoot for Bassmaster Magazine, this is where you ought to have it," suggested Steve Bowman, who's heading up coverage of the Power-Pole Citrus Slam Elite event this week.

With stately cypress trees along the shore and moss-draped oaks everywhere, it would be hard to concentrate on the fishing.

-- Dave Precht


9:51
AM ET

Todd Faircloth with two small keepers in the boat is telling Zona that the small holes in the grass are key, not the big ones. We are sitting on a long flat point outside the thick bullrushes that stand in the quarter mile back to the bank.

Faircloth sets the hook on another one and it looks bigger -- brief fight and he boats it. A four and a half pounder it looks like to us. Big move forward.

Zona's update on the fish Todd just caught: between 5 and 6.

Important, but way too early to trot out the "game changer."

Don't worry -- we plan on overusing that term a little later in the day. Todd's big-un came on the same bait: Senko with 1/8th ounce sinker.

Zona says that Todd had mentioned boat control as critical.

JO reminds me that no less than a Kelly Jordan has pegged Faircloth at the "guy you'd least like to fish behind."

-- Tommy Sanders


9:48
AM ET

This final-day battle could prove to be epic. I just came in out of the helicopter to see Terry Scroggins take the lead from Alton Jones.

PHOTO GALLERY

Launch images

I can't even get set down and get going good before Evers has taken the lead from him.

The way it stands at the moment. Evers has three fish that total 5-1, for 63-1 overall.
Scroggins has three fish that total 7-11 and 61-10 overall.

Alton is third with a zero at the moment and 60-11 overall.

Our guess is those are our big players for the day. Todd Faircloth and J. Todd Tucker are sniffing around the edges.

But all that could change as the day progresses. With the coming wind, who knows what that will hold for some of these guys.

-- Steve Bowman


9:39
AM ET

Edwin Evers sneaked out of the backcountry, using a back channel well south of where we were wating for him, but our electronic "eyes" finally located him.

He has moved to the western shore of Crescent Lake and is tucked into a small cove behind some reeds. An observer who was already there, watching him, told us Evers caught two bass in the pocket weighing about 5 pounds altogether, and now he's working on another bedding fish.

We've been chatting with three other local tournament anglers who know these waters well, and they're putting their money on Evers to win this contest.

"He's had the most consistent weights this week," one of them pointed out. But they're not discounting Terry Scroggins' chances very much. Scroggins is usually the man to beat on these waters, and conditions on this final day are playing into his hands.

Donnie Rice, a friend of mine and an outstanding bass fisherman from Gainesville, told me before this began that if I didn't have Scroggins on my Fantasy Fishing team, I might as well not play. (Of course I followed his advice.)

"If it's a sight fishing tournament, Terry will be up there, but anybody could get on some good bites," he said. "But if the wind is up and you can't see the beds, he knows all the musselbeds and other spots, and he will run away with it."

But I'm liking Evers' chances as well. Wish I'd thought to put him on my team this week.

-- Dave Precht


9:35
AM ET

Zona reports that Faircloth's first fish is a 1.5. He caught on a Senko with 1/8-ounce weight.

Todd says the sinker is key to keeping the bait in the holes. Weightless just blows out.

Todd and Alton are both making long cast to the shallow spots they target. Visibility in this water is very poor -- very silty. A light but persistent breeze is blowing and seems to be picking up ever so slightly.

As has been noted here already, this vast lake is a big flat, basically. Three to five feet deep and mostly featureless.

Todd lands another small fish, less than two pounds and it goes in the livewell.

Three Texas anglers within spittin' distance on this Florida river lake. Overstreet notes that this place offers up the same look and feel of sight fishing on Rayburn Reservoir in the Lone Star State.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:30
AM ET

We are starting to see the fish catch tally rise. Casey Ashley has secured a limit. Call it 10 even.

Steve Kennedy now has four fish that will weigh 5. Edwin Evers and Todd Faircloth also have one fish in the boat, too. Those will weigh 1 each. Keith Combs has caught one short fish.

There aren't any catches to report from Jones, Jordan, McCaghren, and Tucker. And there is still isn't any indication that the wind is going to blow 10-20 today either.

--
Hank Weldon


9:26
AM ET

We are here on Lake George, east side, with Faircloth, Jones and Combs fishing within a hundred yards of each other. VanDam is north about a quarter mile and its the first time we've seen him without a spectator boat in a long time.

Zona gets in the boat with Faircloth. Faircloth immediately boats his first keeper of the day, maybe a 2-pounder.

--
Tommy Sanders


9:11
AM ET

If BASSTrakk is accurate at the moment, Scroggins is very close to the lead.

Still, he'll need to fill out his limit and upgrade a couple of the bass he has in the well if he's going to make a run at this one.

At a minimum, he'll need 17-plus pounds to overtake Jones, Evers and Faircloth. It should be a five horse race with those four and J. Todd Tucker. The rest of the top 12 are five pounds back of that group and probably out of contention for the win.

The weight differential is not their only problem; there's also the leapfrog factor -- too many anglers ahead of them to pass. One or two might stumble, but all five?

--
Ken Duke


9:09
AM ET

David Hunter Jones and I are drifting near the mouth of Salt Creek, waiting for Edwin Evers to come out.

We have "intel" that he's leaving that spot after several minutes of sight fishing in a small pond in the creek. The technology that bassmaster.com is employing to help us bring you the live blog is amazing.

Jones phoned BassTrakk coordinator Hank Weldon, who is monitoring the locations of all 12 anglers in the finals. He texted the exact location of Evers' boat to Jones' iPhone, which showed up as a pin on his smart phone's map application.

--
Dave Precht


9:02
AM ET

Just as I was typing my previous post, I check BASSTrakk and what do you know, we have a new leader. Terry Scroggins has now boated three fish in what looks to be within a 5-minute window. His three will go an estimated 7-11. That gives him a 1-pound lead over Alton Jones.

Steve Kennedy and Kevin Vandam are on the board now. Kennedy has one fish for 2-8. Vandam has one that will go 1-4. Looks like the bass are starting to bite.

-- Hank Weldon


9:00
AM ET

With high wind on everybody's mind in today's final round, all the anglers are searching for a plan B. Rookie Keith Combs thinks he stumbled on one yesterday that will help him. It happened quite by accident.

"I was just flipping into holes yesterday and decided to move somewhere else," he said. "As I started to reel my bait in, a 3-pounder hit. I started pitching into holes and swimming it out, and they were eating it. I caught nine that way."

He thinks he can catch 30 pounds doing that, which could give him his first Elite victory. Combs is fishing a Strike King Game Hog, a creature bait, rigged Texas style.

-- Dave Precht


8:58
AM ET

Watch the first live video update from Dave Mercer here at 9 a.m. ET. He's got Jason Williamson, he of recent big fish fame.
Live video update


8:56
AM ET

Scroggins is on them! They're not big, but he has three now and they'll weigh between 6 and 7 pounds total.

If he can catch two more keepers from this point, it might be time to go looking for better fish on the beds -- like that 7 or 8 pounder that Casey Ashley told him about.

Of course, that bass might not be there anymore. She might have left the nest or been caught by another angler. Sight fishing is unpredictable that way.


-- Ken Duke


8:51
AM ET

With solid performances in both Florida events, the early Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the race looks like a battle between Scroggins, Alton Jones and Kevin VanDam.

Surprisingly, after two tournaments, no AOY in Elite history has ranked worse than fifth. That puts these three in the heart of the hunt -- KVD for his seventh and the other two for their first.


-- Ken Duke


8:42
AM ET

Scroggins is now working Hart Point, just south of Memorial Bridge, fishing a lipless crankbait across a dropoff.

He's just picked up his first keeper -- about 3 pounds.

Four to go, and they need to be bigger if he's going to make a run. Scroggins has dropped a marker buoy, so it looks like he's going to stay and fish for a while.


-- Ken Duke


8:42
AM ET

At 8:33, we have our first fish catch of the day. The early bird winner is Dustin Wilks. He boated a 1-8 pound fish. That puts him 9-15 pounds behind leader Alton Jones.

Hopefully the action will start heating up now. The wind is holding off at the moment. Those who are sight fishing have to be thinking that this is going to be the easiest time to "look at them." Once the wind picks up visibility is going to drop substantially.


-- Hank Weldon


8:42
AM ET

Terry Scroggins planned to start his morning in Dunn's Creek, sight fishing in canals there. After that, he would follow his whims to wherever his vast knowledge of this fishery dictates.

He's optimistic about his chances. "The gap got a lot smaller yesterday," he said.

Scroggins is in fourth, a little under 7 pounds behind the leader.


-- Dave Precht


8:39
AM ET

KVD may fish faster, but nobody sees more water in the course of a day than Terry Scroggins.

We've moved again, just north of Porter's Cove, and he's throwing a Carolina rig across a dropoff.

Still no keepers, but Big Show is a closer. Last year in the Elites, he ranked sixth among all anglers in final round performance.

He was 16.53 percent better than the average Day Four qualifier. Matt Reed was best -- 56.12 percent better -- and Skeet Reese was second (31.32 percent better). But they're not fishing today.


-- Ken Duke


8:37
AM ET

Edwin Ever's Marshal, Brent Meyers is observing some unique bed fishing tatics.

CITRUS SLAM

Photo Galleries

Edwin

" Edwin is using a pruning saw to clear limbs that hang over beds so he can have a clear cast to the bed."

Our on the water photographer, James Overstreet shot some great photos of Scroggins using special bed fishing tatics yesterday.


--Hank Weldon


8:21
AM ET

Big Show is moving again -- just a quarter mile or so.

He's already hit five spots this morning. He stops, makes a few casts, looking for aggressive fish, and then he's on to the next place.

It's his plan to pick up a quick limit before going sight fishing for the kickers that might win the tournament.


-- Ken Duke


8:20
AM ET

Only an occasional light puff of breeze can be felt at the takeoff.

But the story varies on when and how much it will blow later. Not many anglers seem too concerned.

Some have big ones waiting on beds as soon as they reach their areas this morning. And they will be fishing those beds before the light makes them visible in the morning and after they lose sight of them in a steady breeze.

Players choice alert: Zona says watch out for "Little Ebenezer" -- that's super secret code for Edwin Evers. The Ztrain senses that he has good ones located.


-- Tommy Sanders


8:19
AM ET

Kelly Jordon didn't get much sleep last night, and he doesn't know why.

"I woke up at 3 o'clock and couldn't get back to sleep."

His friend Terry Scroggins has an idea.

"You must have a big one you're thinking about," he taunted Jordon.

"Yeah, a couple of big ones," Jordon fired back.

For his part, Jordon tried to get Scroggins to promise he would bring in a 30-pound limit today -- a stretch in this wind, even for Scroggins.

"Come on, Big Show, show us 30 pounds."

It's a way of relieving the stress, this pre-launch banter. And in a way, it demonstrates the friendship these anglers share with one another, and the sportsmanship that marks this sport.


-- Dave Precht


8:18
AM ET

Scroggins is on the move again.

Now he's in the mouth of Dunn's Creek working a sandbar with the Devil's Horse. Just caught a small schooler -- too small -- and released it.


-- Ken Duke


8:16
AM ET

Texas pro Alton Jones is back in the saddle!

But, he's got to be feeling like the turkeys of northern Florida. Turkey season opened yesterday, but it's been Jones season for the past three days as he's been the sole leader of the Citrus Slam.

Despite the target on his back, he's as relaxed and confident as ever. It's his first legitimate shot at winning a bass fishing derby since he won the 2008 Classic on Lake Hartwell near Greenville, S.C.

"This is what you live for; it really feels great," he said. "There are only a handful of times in your career where you're in position to win one of these things. This is what it's all about; the excitement of the final day and knowing that any one of your casts can land in front of the money fish."

Jones has relied on a "secret" bait to claim his largest fish. When he spots a fish less than three pounds, he'll pitch a tube or a finesse-style worm., But, when he sees a big old gal on a bed, he reaches for a new YUM F2 Dinger. The F2 formula built into these worms is designed to fire bass up in a hurry.

"The profile of this bait and the F2 formula is what I've found works when the fish aren't acting quite right, or when they're pressured heavily," Jones said. "The fact that it gets them going in a hurry means I can be more effective and efficient on the water. This kind of fishing is all about time management; you can't stay too long on any one fish, so I need to put them in a boat in a hurry."

With so much stiff competition putting a bead on him, it'll be interesting to see if Jones gets out of Palatka with his head.


-- David Hunter Jones


8:15
AM ET

By the time you read this, Kelly Jordon should know whether his "money bite" is working or not.

"It worked day before yesterday but not yesterday, so I don't know what's going to happen," he said as he waited for the Go signal from Tournament Director Trip Weldon.

Jordon is fishing a grassbed on Lake George -- the same one several other finalists are concentrating on -- but he hopes to do something a bit different at first. He's swimming a weightless Lake Fork Magic Shad, a soft jerkbait with a little thicker body and different tail action than most of its kind.

"I had three big bites on it Friday, including a 5-pounder and two bigger ones that got off," he reported. "I wasn't using braid and they would be buried in the grass before I could get control. I stopped right then and switched it to braid." He is hoping for seven or eight good bites right off the bat.


-- Dave Precht


8:11
AM ET

Scroggins is known for covering a lot of water and changing locations as often -- and maybe more often -- than any other pro.

Here on his home waters, that will definitely be the case. He has so much knowledge of this fishery and so many productive areas to visit that he'll be a moving target today.


-- Ken Duke


8:08
AM ET

At every take off on an Elite Series day, you can find an angler or two who seems distracted or somehow a bit less than enthusiastic for whatever reason.

But that doesn't apply to championship day. Everyone who makes it this far is charged up and ready -- simply because its too hard to get here and too precious is the opportunity.

Case in point is Todd Faircloth -- as good as he is Todd did not make a top 12 last year. He is more than happy to be here today and what's more, he knows the opportunity is there.

When he recorded his Elite Series win on Lake Amistad he had more weight to make up than he faces today. He knows it can be done.


-- Tommy Sanders


8:06
AM ET

And they're off!

Terry Scroggins was going to start in an area that had a big bedding bass or two that was "given" to him by Casey Ashley.

We headed that way to check his progress, but before we could get there, we passed him going the other way.

At first I thought that meant he had the big one(s), but a spectator tells me he stopped, made a few casts, and left.

Now he's in the Brown's Landing area working a Smithwick Devil's Horse over a shallow grassy flat. No bites so far, but plenty of time for Big Show to make a big show. No Florida tournament is over until he weighs in.


-- Ken Duke


8:04
AM ET

Which ever way the wind blows is fine with Todd Faircloth.

A northeast wind is predicted to blow today, and could mess with the sight fishermen who've relied on bedding bass on the western shore of Lake George. Todd Faircloth has stuck to the eastern shore and doesn't expect the winds to screw him up.

"I guess if it blows, that's the way I need it to blow," he said.

Edwin Evers is in Crescent Lake ,and has several canals that he can duck into if the gusts disturb his bite. Evers is strictly sight-fishing, which is most vulnerable to windy conditions.


-- David Hunter Jones


7:58
AM ET

Billy McCaghren ran out of fish Saturday. So today he plans on heading to Rodman Reservoir. In years past, Rodman has spit out some monster bass, and McCaghren got a taste of that this past Monday when he caught a 13-7.

He was sight fishing and saw what looked like a 10-pounder. Wanting to catch the giant, he flipped to and before long was wrangling it toward his boat.

"These things always look bigger when they came out of the water, so I weighed it and it was 13-7!" he said early this morning. "Since I'm out of fish up here, I'm making a gamble and trying that out. But hey, the worst I could do is fall one place!"

--
David Hunter Jones


7:45
AM ET

Day Four of the Power Pole Citrus Slam is under way.

Winds are forecast to blow 10-20 out of the East. That could hurt the sight fishing. Can Alton Jones hang on? Does local Terry Scroggins make the adjustments to the weather conditions and come back from a 6-11 deficit?

Lots of questions to be answered. We have a great team out on the water today who will be blogging as the action happens. Stay tuned.

Be sure to check out BASSTrakk, the hourly live video updates from Dave Mercer starting at 9 a.m. ET and Toyota Hooked Up! hosted by Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, which runs right before the weigh-in.

--
Hank Weldon


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