<
>

Live Blog

3/19/2011


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

3:53
PM ET

The first boats of the first flight are starting to check in. As I write this, they should all be in within the next 20 minutes.

PHOTO GALLERY

Click Here

We will soon be bringing you some BASSCam updates from the dock and check-in.

As we see it, if Alton wasn't able to improve on his 8-10 stringer then at least three of the anglers have cut into his lead. Some of our anglers have been dark today. Guys like Bobby Lane and a few others. We have no reports on them, so obviously our BASSTrakk standings are unofficial.

The big questions will start with who will make the final 12, followed by not who is leading, but how much of a lead he could have going into the final.

Don't forget to watch our behind the scenes camera.

We're going to shut this blog down until in the morning.


-- Steve Bowman


3:37
PM ET

This weigh-in that is coming will be a little different than any before it, at least from an internet perspective.

As usual we will have the live stream of the guys as they walk across the stage and get an official weight. That's pretty standard stuff. New to this weigh-in and hopefully for all those to come, a separate camera will be set up behind stage, our new Live Backstage Camera, so you can watch and maybe listen to those guys as they wait their turn to hit the stage.

That's where you will see some of the joking around that takes place. We're working on the sound part of it. So you may hear it. You may not, which could be a good thing if you have sensitive ears.

Tune into that and check it out. Let us know what you think on tomorrow's blog.


-- Steve Bowman


3:32
PM ET

Scroggins is adding to his weight. He now has 14 pounds. He's in the neighborhood of the weigh-in where he was earlier.

We still have Alton with a 9-pound limit, which keeps his cushion but guys like Scroggins are really cutting into it.

In second place is Tucker and he's about 2-7 behind Alton at the moment.

Edwin Evers is third 2-11 behind Alton

And then Scroggins is 3-15 behind.

KVD is in fifth place, but he's still more than 10 pounds back.

Those are big changes from yesterday. Tucker was about 8-pounds back going into the day; Evers was more than 10 pounds back and Scroggins was more than 9 pounds back.

Alton could still catch a big one. But time is running out. He should be in the lead at the end of the day, but that big lead he had will be a distant memory.

Several of the boats are moving out of Lake George and headed this way. In a few minutes we will see the early birds hit the dock. Greg Vinson has already checked in. He has a limit, not a big one, but had to come early.


-- Steve Bowman


3:06
PM ET

One hour left to fish.

BASSTrakk is showing us with over half of the field today catching limits. The actual number is 32.

Right now there are 208 keepers, and among those four 8-pounders have been caught so far.

Steve Kennedy has the largest bag so far at an estimated 19-9. That is enough right now to push him up into 12th place.

Peter T is right on his heels with an estimated 17-1. Thiliveros is right on the bubble, especially if he has a couple more than what BASSTrakk is showing.

A note from the "BASS Geek" Ken Duke: "Peter T has never finished below 13th in a BASS tournament held on the St. Johns River."

Should be an interesting weigh-in.


--
Hank Weldon


3:01
PM ET

We are in the final hour and we expect to start seeing the guys head back toward the weigh-in. Those in Lake George are about 30 to 40 minutes away.

Some of those guys will wait to the very last precious second. Others won't take any chances and head back in with time to spare.

Some may even be thinking about some of the dudes on water patrol around here. A lot of the areas these guys are boating through have speed limits, as in 30 mile per hour zones, and you hit those at 31 miles per hour and they pull you over. By some accounts they aren't too kind to bass tournaments.

One officer actually pulled Brandon Palaniuk over and insisted holding him until there was no way the young angler could get back in time. Several other stories like that floated around the weigh-in yesterday, so those are probably in the back of the minds of some of these guys.

Either way, it's crunch time and we're watching for any last-minute heroics.


-- Steve Bowman


2:28
PM ET

J. Todd Tucker, who has been quiet all day, really hasn't been all that quiet.

We just saw where he boated an 8-pound plus. After several calls, we verified that catch. And even better he has a limit that will weigh around 13 pounds.

That puts him about 2 pounds off of Alton Jones' pace at the moment, more than close to striking distance.

Tucker is still in Lake George, still surrounded by several anglers and still wacking them. My guess is he will be hoping most of those guys won't make the final 12 and he can have that stuff mostly to himself.

Even if it doesn't happen that way, Tucker has certainly made this race interesting in a way that we expected Scroggins to make it.

-- Steve Bowman


2:19
PM ET

Ryan Said and Brent Chapman are working opposite ends of a grassbed just around the corner from where we watched Chapman catch a couple early this morning.

Said only had a 3 1/2 pounder when we came up on him. Only 10 minutes later, we watched him boat a 2 1/2.

Chapman said he has five fish for 10 pounds. He hasn't burned a pint of gas since making the run from the launch site in downtown Palatka.

-- Dave Precht


2:07
PM ET

Scroggins spent the last few minutes fishing within sight of the take-off dock. He caught two keepers finishing out his limit.

BASSTrakk has him at 11 1/2-pounds. He's spending a lot of time cranking. He spends about 20 minutes here near the weigh-in area and then heads back the way he came.

While we were watching, KVD finished out his limit.

As it stands now.

Alton is still in front with 8-10 and 58 pounds.

Scroggins is second with 11-8 and 51-8;

Edwin Evers is third with 9-12 and 48-9;

KVD is fourth with 12-8 and 47-8;

Fairclth is fifth with 13 and 46-14 overall.

We've not heard a peep out of Tucker all day. Our guess is his BASSTrakk equipment is not working. Too many fish around him being caught for him to not add his share.

-- Steve Bowman


1:57
PM ET

Here's the live video update from 1 p.m., with Dave Mercer giving the latest updates from the water.

Video update.

And watch the 2 p.m. update live now.


1:54
PM ET

Thliveros has more patience than I have, so I leave him working on a spawner as I go in search of someone actually catching something.

John Crews seems like a good prospect for that. His 'Poles are down and he's alternately casting to beds at the stern and bow and to starboard. He walks catlike from one end to the other, careful not to make a noise or movement that would startle the fish.

As I was observing that, a small biplane just buzzed Crews at just above treetop level. Crews didn't even seem to notice.

At the bow, he stands on the trolling motor bracket to gain an extra 4 inches of height. Greater height and a sharper angle is a decided advantage in sight fishing.

Nearby, Steve Kennedy is anchored on a fish after 30 minutes of trolling and casting and looking. Just as I was about to leave, Kennedy hauled back on a bass, but it got off. I guess we'll stay a little longer.

-- Dave Precht


1:50
PM ET

Here's the latest live update from Dave Mercer. He's got leading Elite rookie Jonathon VanDam, the nephew of you know who. Video update.


1:39
PM ET

Clark Reehm has been having a couple of good weeks in Florida. He's made the top 50 cut in both of the events, which means a pay-day for both.

He'll need it. He's fallen off the pace today, with one small keeper. We'll give him an excuse, though.

Reehm tripped over his trolling motor cable and broke his right ankle about 8:30 a.m. Friday. He toughed it out all day, and brought in three fish. A tournament official carried his bag up the stage steps to the scales, and Reehm took off for the hospital.

CITRUS SLAM

Photo Galleries

The weight was only 5-8, but enough to keep him in the hunt in 24th place for Saturday.

Staying in the game is exactly why he kept fishing Friday, Reehm said on the docks Saturday morning. He was in eighth place after Day One, and he wasn't going to give up any advantage.

Reehm told the story of the accident: "There was another boat in the isolated area I was in yesterday, and I was trying to get past him to a couple fish I had marked. It got real shallow, and I reached to raise my trolling motor up and I lost my footing. My leg got wrapped on the trolling motor cable and torqued it around funny as I went in (overboard)."

He said he stood up all day Friday, foot on the trolling motor, his weight shifted to his left leg.

"So I've got new push poles," he said, laughing as he pointed to a pair of crutches.

Friday night, his foot in a soft cast until the swelling goes down, Reehm took his Skeeter to the service yard and had the boat's hot foot replaced with a hand throttle. He planned to fish Saturday by perching on the front pedestal seat; he can't put any weight on the wrapped foot. After the Citrus Slam is over, he'll go home to Texas and have a hard cast put on.

Healing should take four to six weeks, he said.

"I'm not going to go down, take a medical hardship," Reehm said. "I've got too much time and money invested in this." Watch an interview with Reehm from the Day Three Launch.


1:32
PM ET

Peter Thliveros has to be one of the most laid-back anglers on the tour. He stops poling long enough to chat with us and talk about his day, almost oblivious to the idea that $100,000 is on the line.

He's funny, too. In a conversation about airboats, I related that we had earlier seen a squadron of airboats buzz close to Kevin VanDam.

"Yeah," he quipped instantly, "they're friends of mine. I told them to do it."

He's joking, I'm sure.

I've noticed that a few of the pros use push poles to move from bed to bed, like flats guides sneaking up on tarpon. That's a much quieter approach than using a trolling motor prop to slice through the weeds.

In Peter T's case, the stealth factor seems to be working.

-- Dave Precht


1:27
PM ET

Peter Thliveros has to be one of the most laid-back anglers on the tour. He stops poling long enough to chat with us and talk about his day, almost oblivious to the idea that $100,000 is on the line.

He's funny, too. In a conversation about airboats, I related that we had earlier seen a squadron of airboats buzz close to Kevin VanDam.

"Yeah," he quipped instantly, "they're friends of mine. I told them to do it."

He's joking, I'm sure.

I've noticed that a few of the pros use push poles to move from bed to bed, like flats guides sneaking up on tarpon. That's a much quieter approach than using a trolling motor prop to slice through the weeds.

In Peter T's case, the stealth factor seems to be working.

-- Dave Precht


1:25
PM ET

No sooner than I start thinking Alton Jones is stumbling and Ken Duke checks in with the info that Jones just filled out his limit with a bass that will weigh close to 4 pounds.

He'll certainly be fishing tomorrow, and that bass will go a long way toward helping him win his first event since the 2008 Bassmaster Classic.

Meanwhile, Steve Kennedy has added an 8-pounder to his creel, giving 19 pounds and change, placing him in the top 10.

Every half hour or so it seems one or more of those 8-pound class fish is showing up.

Lot of half hours to go in this one.

-- Steve Bowman


1:22
PM ET

The way things are shaping up at the moment, this thing is really tightening up.

Scroggins hasn't had a stellar day by any stretch, buthe's cut into the lead. That comes courtesy of Alton Jones, who is stuck on three fish and no doubt praying a big one will show up any moment.

But if it doesn't and if Scroggins doesn't start working his magic, then the final 12 appears to start getting really tight.

The proverbial door will be swung wide open for several guys. Take a look at BASSTrakk and see all the possibilities.

These last two and half hours will be the key in this event, and who has an opportunity to win it going into tomorrow.

--
Steve Bowman


1:18
PM ET

Five and a half hours of fishing are over.

We are now seeing 18 limits caught, and 153 total keepers are sitting in Elite Series anglers' livewells as unofficially reported on BASSTrakk.

J. Todd Tucker keeps slipping down the leaderboard with zero keepers showing. That could be a BASSTrakk error. We will have to wait until weigh-in time to see if that is the case.

In the past hour we have seen two 8-pounders caught. If today stays consistent with the previous two, the bigger fish will be picked off the last two and a half hours of competition. Stay tuned.

--
Hank Weldon


1:09
PM ET

This event might set a record for fewest casts made.

Here on the west side of Lake George, all the anglers are push-poling or electric motoring through the flats with eelgrass, looking for the holes where the spawning females are doing their things.

The pros don't even pick up a rod until they see a fish that will help them. Cliff Crochet, Alton Jones, Jason Williamson, Tim Horton, Kelly Jordon, Ott DeFoe and David Walker are all within a long cast of one looker, looking for kickers.

-- Ken Duke


1:07
PM ET

"Just stupid."

That's what Peter Thliveros just called himself.

(Of course, I would never call him that. He's still built like a defensive tackle, in case you haven't seen him up close.)

David Jones and I pulled up to watch him poll through a grassbed on the northeast shore of Lake George a minute ago, and he was in a talkative mood. He's kicking himself for "not doing all week what I did today."

That is, first thing this morning he stopped at a deep bar and quickly caught a good limit of bass, not including a 5-pounder that shed his hook.

"I should have put my river rat (mindset) on before today," he said.

Peter T has been upgrading his limit ever since. He has about 19 pounds, he estimates, and is in the neighborhood of several bass that would help him greatly.

We watched him cast to a 7-pounder, but it quickly left the bed. He turned and trolled back to a similarly heavy fish to see if she might be ready to dance by now. Thliveros has this weed flat all to himself, and he's obviously enjoying it -- notwithstanding his little bout of hindsight regret.

-- Dave Precht


1:05
PM ET

Scroggins has left Crescent Lake and is headed on a long run to his cranking spot.

That spot will be critical to how this tourney will play out. Yesterday that accounted for a good bit of his bag.

I'm sure he's counting on it to be a major player today.

-- Steve Bowman


12:57
PM ET
Watch the 1 p.m. live update with B.A.S.S. emcee Dave Mercer.

Live video


12:53
PM ET

As we glide through the grassy shallows in the areas where the bedfishermen are staking their hopes, we see bright, white spawning beds amonst the eelgrass every few feet.

We saw a 3-pounder scoot off the nest as we approached one good-sized bed. A tournament angler would have wanted that one in his livewell today, I'm sure.

The beds are easy to spot up close, but much harder to identify from casting distance, even when wearing polarized sunglasses. I'm amazed at the ability of some of the Elite anglers to locate beds and gauge the size of the bass hovering in the shadows.

I'm also impressed at the focus and composure of the pros, since many are surrounded by so many other fishermen, including pros and recreational anglers, who are also looking for beds and fish. If you like fishing in a crowd, you'd love Lake George on a weekend day like today.

-- Dave Precht


12:53
PM ET
Peter T's big fish bumped him up to 14th place with about 17 pounds.

Peter T knows he probably doesn't have a shot at winning this event, unless the wheels come completely off everyone in front of him.

But he knows this area here. He won the last Open and grew up fishing Lake George.

It would be a huge victory for him to be in the final 12 of this event. He's making some noise like how he wanted to do from the start.

He slipped into the top 50 cut in 38th place, and he's not had a good day yet. With 17-plus in the well, he's a couple of decent bites away from fishing tomorrow.

-- Steve Bowman


12:47
PM ET

A lot of attention has been on Alton Jones and his bed-fishing prowess. He's one of the best in the country at that.

He might be the best in Texas if not for Kelly Jordon. KJ shows out at these events, and would likely be much higher in the standings if he could capture a lunker.

A few minutes ago that big fish hit for him and he caught an 8-pounder. That shot him up the standings and he's currently in 6th place.

But as Ken Duke said earlier, things are getting ready to hit. At virtually the same moment that KJ caught his 8-pounder, Peter Thliveros caught an 8-pounder.

Interestingly enough, each are on Lake George, one on the northern end the other on the southern end.

Stuck somewhere in the middle of them is Tucker, Jones, KVD and Faircloth.

-- -- Steve Bowman


12:35
PM ET

We've left KVD and caught up with tournament leader Alton Jones, who has four small bass.

"But that's about to change," Alton says.

His bite has been late both days, and he expects the action to pick up very soon. He's working a big flat loaded with eelgrass on the west side of Lake George, easing along with his trolling motor and looking for bedding fish.

-- Ken Duke


12:28
PM ET

Scroggins gets a bite dead in the middle of the pads. His rod's bent double with the light line and you swear it's going to break at any moment. But he reels up to it and digs out a 3-pound plus bass. That should give him about 10 pounds.

-- Tommy Sanders


12:15
PM ET

We're still with Scroggins, who is using very light line and spinning gear in the pads. He has broken off two baits on a good fish, which he thinks will bite again.

-- Tommy Sanders


12:08
PM ET

Another small buck bass goes into KVD's livewell -- this from the second nest he's been working.

Kevin is using a variety of soft plastics on these spawners, giving them lots of different looks. If he can catch one of these big females, he'll likely make the cut to 12 and fish tomorrow.

-- Ken Duke


11:59
AM ET
Watch the noon live update with B.A.S.S. emcee Dave Mercer. He has Elite rookie Jonathon VanDam on right now.

Live video


11:50
AM ET

Persistence is not paying off for the world's greatest bass angler.

More than an hour after setting up to catch a 7-pounder off her nest, KVD is still pitching and waiting. He seems to have located another good fish nearby, though. He's able to pitch to both without moving his boat.

-- Ken Duke


11:48
AM ET

Zona, who is in the boat with Scroggins, sent a text to Sanders that Big Show is locked in on a bed that has a 3- and 5-pound bass locked on it.

Then Sanders said, Scroggins was laying on the deck of the boat moving lily pads and stuff out of the way, and marking the bed with a bamboo stick.

Evidently, he's getting ready to work on those fish from a distance.

As soon as that's typed, Scroggins lands the 3 1/2 pounder.

-- Steve Bowman


11:45
AM ET

Tommy Sanders just reported in that Scroggins is moving.

The big ones weren't home on the east side for Scroggins. Evidently there were some muddy water visibility issues. He's back at the first spot, where Sanders and Zona found him this morning.

He's casting to the same spot where he broke off a 5-pounder earlier in the day.
-- Steve Bowman


11:42
AM ET

There have been 120 keepers now caught, and five more anglers have secured limits.

Mark Menendez has taken big fish honors for the day with a 6-8.

Greg Vinson is currently sitting on the bubble spot (12th place) He has a small limit that will go 8-4 pounds.

One angler to keep an eye on is J. Todd Tucker. He is sitting in sixth place without a keeper in the boat.

-- Hank Weldon


11:39
AM ET

You couldn't throw very many rocks around this point just north of Juniper Creek without hitting an Elite Angler right now.

We count seven milling around this giant grassbed. The closest, Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., has five bass and is Power-Pole down as he works on another. It's obviously big enough to cull something from his limit.

A short distance from him are Billy McCaghren of Arkansas, Matt Herren of Alabama, Ott DeFoe of Tennessee, Jason Williamson of South Carolina, Dennis Tietje of Louisiana and Kelly Jordon of Texas. It's a gaggle of southerners, all about a mile from the pride of Kalamazoo, Mich., Kevin VanDam.

All these anglers, including VanDam, were just treated to a "fly-by" of several airboats that cut across the grassbeds they're working. I wonder how that affects spawning bass. Like humans living near an airport, I guess they get used to the noise.

I can see that several of these fishermen are looking for bedfish big enough to bother with. They're straining their trolling motors, cutting through the thick eelgrass as they scan holes in the vegetation.

We haven't seen anyone hook a fish yet, although we know from BassTrakk that McCaghren has two and Matt Herren has about 5 pounds. With a high sun and calm surface, conditions should be ideal for these guys to locate a fish or two.

--
Dave Precht


11:32
AM ET

Here's the latest video from Dave Mercer, including on the water footage of Terry Scroggins.
Video update


11:30
AM ET

The small keepers keep showing up for those lacking in limits. Two of the anglers we are watching intently are Alton Jones and Terry Scroggins.

Virtually at the same time they each caught their second keeper. Both have about 3 1/2 pounds, exchanging blows.

Both have reported catching their better fish later in the day. This is kind of like two fighters circling each other and just throwing little jabs, waiting for an opportunity to get in that big punch.

-- Steve Bowman


11:26
AM ET

Todd Faircloth has finished his limit and while Jones, Tucker and Scroggins continue to struggle. Faircloth's 8-pound plus limit has moved him into second for the moment.

Faircloth started the day in 8th place some 13 pounds off the lead. He has a 4-pounder in that creel and the rest are small. A couple of big fish and he could jump way up there.

One of the odd things about this fishery, at least for the moment, is that there has been a lack of 3- to 4-pound fish. They seem to be either in that 2-pound or less range or up in that giant range.

With Faircloth's limit, he can now focus on finding and catching giants.

Another angler with a limit and probably in that focus is Mark Menendez. He just culled up by a half pound, which won't help him much. But he could have easily caught the male off a bed, and could be waiting for a big female to show.

-- Steve Bowman


11:22
AM ET

Here's the latest unofficial results from BASSTrakk.

Alton Jones still leads but some are gaining ground.


11:06
AM ET

He' still working on the 7-pound female, but KVD managed to catch her mate just a few minutes ago. With the 2-pound male safely in the livewell, he's hoping the female will be more aggressive.

-- Ken Duke


11:01
AM ET

Now all the locals fishing in this bay have all gathered to fish in one spot. We can't tell exactly what they're doing but from here it looks like a country-fried version of one of those Lake Mead party cove scenes.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:00
AM ET

Mark Menendez just boated a 6 1/2 pounder, which gives him the largest limit of the day at the moment.

To give you an idea of how important one fish can be. That moved him from 44th to 13th place.

Those single big fish have played such a big role in this event, and it's obvious they will continue to be critical.

-- Steve Bowman


10:59
AM ET

Ok, the live 11 a.m. video update is starting any second. Click here »


9:58
AM ET

Watch Dave Mercer's with the 10 a.m. video update.

Video update


10:55
AM ET

KVD's 9-5: Kevin VanDam, in sixth place after two days, landed a 9-5 Friday, the biggest of the day brought to the scale.

"I stumbled into that one," he said. "I was just kind of sneaking along, saw a bed and pitched in there. The fish wasn't even on the bed, it just stuck its head out of the grass. I pitched a couple more times and it moved out of the bed. It took me about 20 throws to get her to bite, and I caught her."

He already had a limit, so he traded a 1 1/2-pounder.

"It was critical, without a doubt. I didn't have a whole lot else on top of that."

-- Deb Johnson


10:53
AM ET

This small but growing peanut gallery has picked up and followed T. Scroggins to the other side of the lake, where the sun is high enough to look at "the big one."

It's an 8-acre bay with about one local fishing boat per acre already in here.

Scroggins is poles down about 50 feet off the bank throwing to tiny isolated stands of lily pad about ten feet off the bank. This is slow, finesse stuff.

-- Tommy Sanders


10:52
AM ET

Playing catch-up: After leading the Power-Pole Citrus Slam for two days, can Alton Jones be caught on Day Three?
The expected -- and received -- answer from the pros trying to overtake him in the St. Johns River event was "yes."

Jones had 49 pounds, 6 ounces going into Saturday, Day Three of four competition days. Here's what some had to say on the docks before morning takeoff:

J. Todd Tucker (2nd place, 7-9 back, and sharing water with Jones): "Oh, absolutely. This place is full of big fish. You catch a limit of bucks, it will weigh only about 8 pounds. But you're looking for that 6- to 7-pound fish, and if you catch two of them, then you're in good shape. If you catch four of them, there's no doubt anybody can be caught on this lake."

Terry Scoggins (3rd place, 9-6 back, and fishing home water): "Yeah, oh yeah. It's a four-day event."

Billy McCaghren (5th, 13-0 back, shooting for his first top-12 cut): "I think he can. It all depends on if a guy comes across the right fish or two. I've seen a fish this week bigger than the 13 I'm behind Alton. One fish could turn this thing around."

Keith Combs (7th, 15-5 back, a rookie): "Oh, absolutely. Anybody can have a bad day. I'm 15 pounds behind him and the fish I'm going to start on today is 11 pounds. I saw it yesterday, and couldn't get it to bite. If I can catch that one today, and one more big one, and he doesn't find a big one today, he's smoked."

-- Deb Johnson


10:50
AM ET

KVD just stopped to lend his marshal a pair of sunglasses so he could see some of the beds that Kevin's fishing.

It cost him a cast or two, but what's that when you're the best in the world?

-- Ken Duke


10:48
AM ET

Be sure to watch emcee Dave Mercer give
live video updates of Day Three. He has Elite Series rookie Brandon Palaniuk at 11.

-- Mike Suchan


10:44
AM ET

KVD is on the west side of Lake George, putting his power-fishing spin on sight fishing.

It's interesting to see him using a push pole out here rather than seeing him run his electric motor on high. Whatever he's doing is working. He's having another good tournament. I'll try to get an update on his catch today.

-- Ken Duke


10:41
AM ET

There's 82 keepers to report.
Scroggins is finally on the board as reported earlier. His 2.5 pounder puts him in second place, roughly 8 pounds behind Jones.

Menedez and Vinson have joined the limit club. Kriet, Thileveros, Ashley, and Faircloth all have four fish.

The wind is starting to pick up a little bit, which might hurt some angler's bite, but might help others. Regardless, the bite seems to picking up right now.

-- Hank Weldon


10:37
AM ET

Scroggins 2 1/2-pounder has jumped him into second place at the moment. That's a jump we've been expecting, but we doubt he stays there with just that fish.

PHOTO GALLERY

On the water

Even though, Alton Jones has appeared to be running away with this event, dock talk still holds that Scroggins will find a way to win this event.

He's "The Man" on the St. Johns. We all know how good he is and we're watching his every move today as well as Alton Jones and the other leaders.

Scroggins stumbled a bit on Day One and needs those guys ahead of him to stumble a little as well. Some of that could take place today.

The big variable at the time is the tides. Water levels are lower at the moment because of the pull of the Super Moon. They may get higher as well by day's end.

That could change the game for everyone.

Still, we expect Scroggins to have enough in his arsenal to keep making a run at it.

-- Steve Bowman


10:24
AM ET

Ken Duke alluded to B.A.S.S. record on the St. Johns River, so looking back we find Peter Thliveros won the last event out of Palatka, the 2008 Open, with 55 pounds, 3 ounces over three days. Elite rookie Jonathon VanDam finished third in that derby.

Terry Scroggins was seventh, but he won the previous tournament on St. Johns, the 2001 Florida Eastern Open. The event had more than 300 competitors, including the likes of current Elites John Crews, Jason Quinn and Mike Iaconelli, and Scroggins won with 40-15 over three days.

Go back to the Florida Invitational in 1999 and the victor was none other than last week's Elite winner Shaw Grigbsy. In 2000, Shaw had two of his nine total wins before a drought that lasted until last week.

B.A.S.S. held a number of tournaments on St. Johns in the '80s and early '90s, including Peter T's 1992 Top 100 Pro victory. Thliveros caught 69-7 in that event to beat Grigsby by 10 pounds.

With close to 50 pounds now, Alton just needs a couple mediocre days to top that.

That was among the few four-day events on St. Johns.

In the 1991 Florida Invitational, there was an all-star top 3 with Guido Hibdon, Kevin VanDam and Roland Martin.

Speaking of big names, Hank Parker won the 1985 Super B.A.S.S. event there with 68.9, and Gary Klein, still going strong, was second.

Two events were held there in 1984, one in '83 and 1979 and the Florida Invitational ran there from 1973-77.

-- Mike Suchan


10:21
AM ET

John Murray could have slept in all week and still ranked 34th.

"I haven't caught a fish before 11 o'clock," he said when we met him along the main river.

He was killing time fishing a toad and flipping into eelgrass until his fish turn on down in Lake George.

"My fish are up close to shore," he said. "I need the tide to be up high."

-- Dave Precht


10:10
AM ET

We've picked up and moved from an island in the middle of the lake to the bank in Crescent (town).

It's a little pocket that opens up in a long grass. He's pitching small plastic items to very isolated clumps of grass. 2.5 feet of water. Water temperature is 70 and slight hint of a breeze on and off.

Five pitches to the same clump and finally a grab. Careful, extended play with the spinning reel and light line and the first keeper of the day is boated, a 2.5-pounder. He's changing baits about every 10 casts now.

-- Tommy Sanders


10:08
AM ET

David Hunter Jones and I are still watching to see if Brent Chapman can boat another keeper before we go looking for other competitors around Lake George.

We're blogging, shooting BassCam videos and still photos for the photogallery on bassmaster.com. We'd love to be fishing but we're not. Still, we almost "boated" a fish just now.

As we moved along on the trolling motor to get a better photo angle, a bass spooked beneath the boat, shot up and got trapped beteen the jackplate and transom of my boat. It got away before we could measure it though.

This eelgrass bed is full of fish. Some local anglers lost a big one on shiners earlier this morning, and we're seeing bass chasing baitfish here and there. "It's torture not being able to fish," Jones said.

-- Dave Precht


10:06
AM ET

Alton Jones is living in the moment today. Although high winds (15-20 mph) are predicted for Sunday's final round, the current leader isn't thinking that far ahead.

"I'm just worried about today. Tomorrow will take care of itself," he said.

With a 7-pound, 7-ounce lead at the start of today, he's hoping to expand the comfort margin before conditions turn nasty. He did reveal a little about his forward-thinking strategy, though. He said when it "gets a little breezy," it will be important to know where the holes holding big fish are located.

You can bet he'll have a few precise spots to cast tomorrow, even if ripples on the water's surface prevent him from seeing what's there.

David Walker, in 21st place, is extremely happy to be where he is. He said he usually does pretty well in Florida tournaments, but mainly those located in the central and southern parts of the state. I spoke to him at launch this morning, and he seemed guardedly optimistic.

"I knew it was going to be a bedfishing deal when I came down here, and that was right," he said. "I don't do that very much, but I committed to it."

It paid off with bass of 5 and 6 1/2 pounds in earlier rounds. He's a little worried about the winds tomorrow, and he also noted that bass seem to be deserting their beds. "Everybody's talking about how the fish are gone, or getting harder to catch.
He doesn't know why that's occurring, other than fishing pressure from the tournament anglers.
"The weather is stable and the moon is if getting full. It should be perfect. I guess the best way to screw up some good fishing is to have a tournament," he said.

-- Dave Precht


9:57
AM ET

Here's a BASSTrakk update. The catch rates have doubled over the last 40 minutes. We now have 53 keepers caught. Chapman, Linter, Poche, Walker, and Martens all have limits in their boats.

The top five looks like this: Alton Jones with 1-4 today for 50-10; Tucker with zero today for 41-13, Chapman with 9-1 for 41-3; Ashley with 7-8 for 40-4 and Scroggins with zero for 40 even.


9:49
AM ET

To watch Dave Mercer with the 9 a.m. live video update. Mercer begins at about the 7-minute mark.

Live update


9:45
AM ET

The frog patch in the east side of Lake George is paying off for at least one of the three anglers anchored down here.

Brent Chapman just boated 5 1/2 pounds for two fish in three casts. He's working a frog over thick eelgrass on a long point.

John Crews is fishing a toad without much to show for it. He's just pulled up and is heading for the far side, where he is planning to look for spawners.

James Niggemeyer had a big fish blow up on his frog right after we arrived but the fish failed to connect.

-- Dave Precht


9:44
AM ET

Keith Poche has the first limit of the day. They weigh in at 11 pounds plus.

He's fishing in a the creek or river that feeds Crescent Lake at the moment.

One thing about Poche, he said this morning that he is not fishing for bedding fish. He's one of the few.

Instead he's knocking around and catching a limit every day that has produced enough for him to fish for three days.

One of the things he's counting on for big fish is schooling bass. He said this morning that when they come up there are big ones in the middle of them and it's possible for him to catch 20 pounds in no time at all.

He will need that if he expects to fish in the final 12. Currently, he's hovering around 15th place.

-- Steve Bowman


9:43
AM ET

Keith Poche has the first limit of the day. They weigh in at 11 pounds plus.

He's fishing in a the creek or river that feeds Crescent Lake at the moment.

One thing about Poche, he said this morning that he is not fishing for bedding fish. He's one of the few.

Instead he's knocking around and catching a limit every day that has produced enough for him to fish for three days.

One of the things he's counting on for big fish is schooling bass. He said this morning that when they come up there are big ones in the middle of them and it's possible for him to catch 20 pounds in no time at all.

He will need that if he expects to fish in the final 12. Currently, he's hovering around 15th place.

-- Steve Bowman


9:41
AM ET

Still agonizingly slow here with Scroggins working the pads. He's threatening to go crank the river. We'll let you know. No grabs for about 20 minutes. A few more spectator boats have drifted up.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:39
AM ET

As of 9 a.m. ET, there were 23 fish caught.

Casey Ashley, Greg Vinson, and Keith Poche all have three fish. Ashley's three will go around 7.5 pounds, pushing him up into third place.

Pat Golden has the biggest fish so far at an estimated 6 pounds. Golden was the only angler who decided to go down river, which is actually north. There isn't another angler within 20 miles of him. He could be someone to watch.

Alton Jones, J. Todd Tucker, and Terry Scroggins have yet to score. The sun is getting higher as we speak, making the spawners easier to see. With it being Florida, a 10-pounder could be one cast away for really any of these anglers. Stay tuned.

-- Hank Weldon


9:38
AM ET

Alton Jones is on the scoreboard. He has a small keeper, which widens his lead.

In a normal event that might be the icing on the cake. But there is nothing normal about this event.

At any moment an 8- to 10-pound or even large bass could show up and change the game. Alton knows this better than anyone.

It's been hard for most of these guys to back-up their day-to-day heavy sacks. Fish are running out for most of them.

Alton backed his up yesterday, but you have to wonder if it will last. That makes every little fish for him more important. He has an 8-pound plus lead on everyone. The more of those little ones he catches the more of those bigger ones have to show up for the others.

-- Steve Bowman


9:37
AM ET

Ken Duke is watching a Alton Jones and J. Todd Tucker on the big grass bed in Lake George.

Yesterday it was full of anglers, today those two have it to themselves, at least for the moment.

In terms of catching, Duke says that J. Todd hit the board first and second But they're small. Two bass -- maybe 3 1/2-pounds total.

-- Steve Bowman


9:27
AM ET

Scroggins still working this line of pads and now the pitches are getting longer as he sets up further off the veg. Zona texts me Terry has noted that he has some big fish located on the east side of this lake, but the sun isn't high enough over there yet.

-- Steve Bowman


9:15
AM ET

As soon as Scroggins catches one, we will send a picture ... and it will be a good one.

The sun is perfect, the backdrop is snags and spanish moss and I wish we could send some audio because it sounds like a straight up Tarzan movie with all the unfamiliar bird calls coming from the woods.

Hold on -- he's got a good one on but its wrapped around a pad -- now it's untangled, almost to the boat -- and breaks off. Zona says it was a 4-5 pounder and Scroggins is PO'd.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:08
AM ET

This coming from Sanders, who got it from Zona, who got it from Scroggins, who is sitting on a stretch of bank in Crescent Lake.

"There are 20 bass spawning in this 100 feet by 12 feet patch of pads. They are very hard to catch."

Zona says the fish are tweaky, plus light line makes this deal very challenging.

-- Steve Bowman


8:58
AM ET

Terry Scroggins is still looking for his first bite in an little isolated line of pads. He's saying they bit well in here 11-12 hour yesterday. All sand bottom.

-- Tommy Sanders


8:48
AM ET

Alton Jones is on a pace to obliterate every B.A.S.S. mark in St. Johns history -- 16 previous pro events here.

All of them except for biggest individual bass. That was set in 1973 by Bob Tyndall with a 12-13 that stood as B.A.S.S.' best for more than 20 years.

-- Ken Duke


8:45
AM ET

Catch rates shot up pretty quick. All of the sudden we've now had 12 catches in a short span of time.

The largest of those is a 6-pounder by Pat Golden, who is well north of Palatka.

The highest ranked angler with a fish is Casey Ashley. He started the day in ninth place and his 2-pounder moves him to seventh place.

-- Steve Bowman


8:45
AM ET

At 7:40 we find Terry Scroggins on Crescent Lake -- working on an isolated line of lily pads about 30 feet off the bank in 3.5 feet of water. No keepers yet. One camera boat and four spectator boats are following their boy, who's from right up river, or down river in the north flowing body of water, in San Mateo.

-- Tommy Sanders


8:26
AM ET

The first catches of the day are coming in. First to hit the boat was a 2-pounder by Brent Chapman, then Casey Ashley followed that up with his own 2-pounder.

They are still well off the pace, some 14 to 15 pounds back. But the catching has started.

Both of the previous days have gotten off to a gradually slower starts. The first day some big fish hit the livewell almost immediately with some limits coming in as well, and then catch rates dropped considerably until the sun started hitting the water making things happen. The second day not as much on the big fish side.

Most of those easy fish are gone now. We expect the day to get better as it gets later, hotter and close to the rising of the Super Moon.

-- Steve Bowman


8:18
AM ET

It didn't take long for Terry Scroggins to reveal one of the differences in his day than some of the others.

While virtually everyone has been scattered around Lake George, we've not seen Scroggins in there. His Day Three BASSTrakk explains why.

He's started in Crescent Lake, which has barely been mentioned during this event. And he has it to himself. Most everyone else is in Lake George and scattered up and down the St. Johns River between Palatka and Lake George.

We'll soon have our full-time eyes on these guys. Overstreet, Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona are headed to Crescent Lake with Scroggins.

Then we have Dave Precht and David Jones teaming up in Lake George. Seigo Siata and Ken Duke are teamed up and in there as well.

-- Steve Bowman


7:59
AM ET

There was a huge crowd at the take off to watch 50 boats take off.

In fact there were 40 cars parked on the Highway 17 bridge to watch anglers leave.

We're off to follow Terry Scroggins. Zona can't stop talking about the Supermoon -- he's all about the perigee and the apogee.

Zona got in Scroggins' boat and is going stay there all day unless we get orders to do otherwise. They're running, so photographer James Overstreet and I may lose him. But JO's pretty crafty, we'll catch up to him sometime.

-- Tommy Sanders


7:43
AM ET

Check out a few of the BASSCam from this morning. Definitely some nuggets in there from the dock.

Should have a photo gallery to go with that soon. And BASSTrakk will be up and running soon.

-- Steve Bowman


7:35
AM ET

Day Three of the Power-Pole Citrus Slam is starting and already we've heard enough dock talk to downright scare us.

This event is boiling down to who can find the most big spawners that they can catch, not necessarily the most spawners. All of them are seeing fish. All of them are catching fish.

But the guys sitting on the sidelines this morning and not a part of the final cut are those who could never figure out how to catch one of those giants.

For them the constant theme has been "They are just too spooky."

The guys who are fishing today are a mixture of those who are just that good and those who are just lucky.

Most of them have skills on their side. And as we walked the docks this morning, we started hearing stories that made us think today could be "big" in a lot of ways.

Terry Scroggins, who despite a healthy deficit, is still expected to make a run at this event said, "I have a 6, 7 and 10 pounder waiting on the bed."

Keith Combs, who guides on big-fish factories Lake Falcon and Lake Amistad, was talking about a "giant" the likes that he's never seen, while as an aside just mentioning an 11-pounder.

Just those two anecdotes alone make it interesting. With tonight be the night of the Super Moon, it just gets even more crazy.

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.

-- Steve Bowman


• Blog Archive: Sunshine Showdown