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Live Blog

3/13/2011


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

3:55
PM ET

The day is pretty much over for our leaders. They are headed back to the weigh-in area and it's a slow go.

PHOTO GALLERY

On the water

That trip includes a couple different idle zones that takes about 15 or 20 minutes each. They may get back into Dora enough to make a last-minute cast or two, but they are pretty much done at this moment.

KVD still has time for a last-minute fish and Lane evidently has left the "big one." It didn't show up on BASSTrakk so we can only assume he will head there in the morning.

Then again, he may have caught it, got in a rush and they are moving too fast to key it in. We'll see soon. Check in begins in a few minutes for the first flight and the weigh-in will start at 4:15 p.m. EST.

Be watching to see just how big Grigsby and Goldbeck's sacks really are. Then pay attention to some of those zeroes.

Day Three starts and ends in order of the previous day's weigh-in. That means Grigsby, Goldbeck, Golden, Lane and KVD will be in the first flight.

The surprises will come later.

We're checking out now, to get them checked in, shoot some photos at the weigh-in and get our stories. But we will be back first thing in the morning.

-- Steve Bowman


3:46
PM ET

We spoke to Gerald Swindle by phone today and asked the generic question "what are you doing?"

Swindle's response?

"What a guy who didn't catch any fish does on a Saturday of tournament week does ... laundry."

-- Angie Thompson


3:37
PM ET

There are several anglers who are scored with a zero on BASSTrakk. We know that can't be accurate.

We expect as sometimes happens in these Elites that the Marshals and the anglers aren't thinking about them one bit. It happeneds in the Classic, and we have a practice day for them to get those things right.

Of those with zeroes for the day, we expect several of them to have decent limits. We doubt any of them will change the top five, but we expect a few of them to definitely jumble up the 12.

So, again, the weights you are watching are unofficial, the best guesses of a Marshal who is punching the information into an electronic gizmo. And those with zeroes, very well could have decent limits.

That could be good news for those of you rooting for guys who have zeroes. Bad news for those who have guys just in the top 12 at the moment.

-- Steve Bowman


3:26
PM ET

We've come across some neat things on the water. Randy Howell catching an alligator this week is one, James Overstreet's pictures of the event another.

But here's something we rarely come across. Just kinda neat to see the locals heading to the weigh-in.


3:10
PM ET

Here's the latest standings from BASSTrakk. Now remember these are unofficial. Marshal punch in estimated weights into a phone, and the numbers are just that, estimations.

Now we expect them to be close, but don't go banking on it.


2:54
PM ET
Watch the hourly update with Elite Series anglers talking about their week.


2:35
PM ET

David Hunter Jones and I, eager to see somebody catch a fish, have moved back to Harris, where KVD is stationed. He doesn't disappoint.

We've watched him boat two in the last few minutes, and one warranted comparing it with other fish in his creel. It looked to be about 2 pounds, but I couldn't tell whether he culled or tossed that one back.

He's fishing open water 75 yards offshore with a Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait. The water here is 6 feet deep and the bottom under my boat is bare. He's obviously located an underwater grassbed because he repeatedly has to rip the bait free of something on each retrieve.

And, having lived near these natural lakes if central Florida the past five years, I know he's not encountering stumps.

-- Dave Precht


2:30
PM ET

Chris Lane was inching up the standings he moved ahead of KVD by a few ounces and into fourth place.

It lasted about five minutes and KVD, who has moved out deeper, culled one and jumped back over him by a few ounces.

Those guys are fighting for every ounce at the moment, wanting to get as close as possible for the final day when they hope they can make a big move.

Lane may make a little move of his own. He just called Trip Weldon to make sure of his check-in time. He mentioned to Weldon that he's sitting on a "big one."

If that's a Florida "big one" in the 8- to 10-pound range then that could really move him within striking distance.

If he doesn't catch it today, it's a good bet he'll start on it tomorrow.

-- Steve Bowman


2:15
PM ET

Sad news.

PHOTO GALLERY

Click Here

Kevin Oldham, the firefighter who was given his dream trip to last month's Classic, died last night.

Read Don Barone's Angels & Heroes: The Final Journey.

Have some tissue closeby.

-- Mike Suchan


2:03
PM ET

There's less than two hours of fishing and at the moment this looks like arun away for Shaw Grigsby. But with a day left, and a lot of history of Harris Chain in the back of our minds, we know this event is far from over.

If Grigsby is right that the fishing are drying up in his small pond, then he and the two golden boys -- Pat Golden and Grant Goldbeck, could do a little struggling tomorrow.

My guess is all three will head straight to the small pond. They would almost have to. Who in their right minds wouldn't go after the stringers that have been produced there? Goldbeck just upped his stringer to 23 pounds plus with a 6-pounder.

But going into this event, everyone was talking the game that the sight fish were so few they would only last a day. Grigsby, Goldbeck and Golden have squeezed them through three days. Can it go one more?

That will be the question of the night for each of them.

Those who make the final 12 will be thinking along similar lines, feeling with some deal of certainty or hope that there will be no way it will hold up. They will also be hoping and praying that each of them will find the little gremlin that jumped all over Brian Snowden two years ago.

Sitting in the wings and waiting for that opportunity is the most opportunistic predator in the Elites -- Kevin VanDam.

He's pulled off some amazing feats in the last few years that have solidified his legend status. Be interesting to know if he's smelling blood when the weigh-in is over today. He knows he doesn't have to lead until tomorrow and that he probably can't catch them today.

But one stumble by them tomorrow and he could be right there. Same with Chris Lane, who is sniffing around. He and KVD have both been the most consistent anglers in the field.

-- Steve Bowman


2:01
PM ET
Watch the hourly update with Dave Mercer live right now. He's talking with Kevin Short.


1:52
PM ET

The Dead River is living up to its name this afternoon. We've left KVD and headed here to see if anyone else is on 'em. They're not.

Zell Rowland (27th going into today) grumbled that he only had three little ones. He blames the weather change for shutting down his bite. He's been flipping pads along the main channel of Dead River with a small creature bait.

We followed Gary Klein back into a long, winding canal lined with boat slips. He's pitching to the shoreline and moving along at a fast clip. BASSTrakk has him at two fish so far today.

Going out, we passed Cliff Pace headed into Klein's canal. They appear to have the right idea; a couple of anglers who are either fun fishing or competing in another tournament on these waters today are sharing the bow and apparently working on a bedding fish. They're not on our hit list, though, so we move on.

-- Dave Precht


1:28
PM ET

Right now is the part of the day when a big chunk of the field is thinking about what they need to make the top 12.

Currently that weight looks to be around 37 pounds. But going into the day, the best guess would be it should be somewhere between 38 pounds and 40 pounds.

A lot of guys are within striking distance of that mark.

Some are in and could be knocked out.

Take a look at BASSTrakk to get an idea of how just close some of them are. If some of those bigger fish show up in the final hour or so like they have the last two days, then whoever you are rooting for probably needs to have 40 pounds, maybe more, maybe a pound or so less.

Right now there are only seven anglers who can probably start thinking they are fishing on Sunday: Grigsby, Golden, Goldbeck, Lane, KVD, Niggemeyer and Browning.

JVD may be on the proverbial bubble. We have him in eighth at the moment, but he's short of the 40-pound mark. He may have enough, but statistics and trends being what they are, you never know.

We have to remind everyone that the weights on BASSTrakk are just guesses punched in by a Marshal riding with the angler. They could be heavier than what's actually in the boat or weigh less.

Many of the anglers are decidedly sandbaggers, so the only true measure will come on the scales.

-- Steve Bowman


1:03
PM ET
Pat Golden has abandoned the small pond. He's left and went through the Dead River and we've lost contact with him.

He left with the 17 pounds that we reported him having earlier. We're not sure if he's searching for something different or just got tired of watching the Grigsby and Goldbeck show. J. Todd Tucker must have felt the same way. He left too.

Either way Golden is still in the mix. He should be in the final 12 with little problem. Tucker has some work to do.

Even though they are gone, Grigsby and Goldbeck are still perched on the fish they are trying to catch.

Zona keeps whining that he's running out of batteries. But there are some good videos on BassCam from him.

My guess is Zona will be leaving too soon.

-- Steve Bowman


1:01
PM ET
Watch the hourly update with Dave Mercer live right now.


12:58
PM ET
The KVD 1.5 strikes again. VanDam caught a 2 1/2 pounder by paralleling the grassline with his trademark shallow running crankbait. He didn't have to hesitate in picking out a smaller fish to cull. I admire his confidence in the bait. He's chunkin' and windin' without pause and every now and then, something swallows the little Strike King bait. In our photos, we can clearly see it's the chartreuse model with a black back -- same medicine he used for the Louisiana Delta just three weeks ago.

-- Dave Precht


12:30
PM ET
Tommy Sanders just reported in that Grigsby just caught a 5 1/2 pounder. This one right in "geometrical center" of the pond all the anglers are fishing. According to Sanders that fish hit a drop shot.

That pushes Grigsby weight up enough that he's starting to see a lot of daylight between him Golden and Goldbeck.

But Grigsby also says that the fish seem to be locking on the beds better than before. With Goldbeck locked on his 13 plus and Golden still circling, who knows what could happen?

Grigsby does feel, though, that the number of fish are dwindling rapidly in the pond. Hard to believe that when he catches a 5 1/2 out in the deeps behind him, but I'm not second guessing the master for a moment.

-- Steve Bowman


12:24
PM ET
I'm sure it's not that simple, but if I were KVD, I'd be running and gunning a little faster. Every time he makes a move, he sets down and catches a bass before the spectator boats can make it to the scene. Then he sends another 15-20 minutes working the area, usually without success. He has returned to one of the spots he visited early this morning and immediately caught another decent keeper. I couldn't tell if he was able to cull with it, but it was close enough for him to weigh and compare. He caught that one on the worm and then, for some reason, started throwing the square bill crankbait parallel to the shoreline again.I'm not one to question his instincts, but he hasn't had a bump in 10 minutes since switching baits.

-- Dave Precht


12:48
PM ET
To watch all the BASSCam videos, go here.


12:19
PM ET
While Grigsby, Golden and Goldbeck are all packed into a small pond with a few other anglers. Most of those at the top of the standings are spread all over the place.

Browning and Wirth are still in Griffin. Cliff Crochet is in there with him.

KVD is in Lake Harris along with Davy Hite. Several anglers are in the Dead River. Scroggins is in Dora and Lake Beauclair, as is Jonathon VanDam.

Chris Lane is in a little hidey hole that doesn't even show up on the map.

Outside of Lane, who has 13 pounds, and those leaders in the small pond, none of the other anglers scattered around these chain of lakes has built a stringer that is hitting in the teens yet.

But with all these fish hitting the beds in that one small pond, you would think there would be a few sniffing around the beds elsewhere. With the caliber of angler on the water, and the number of 8-pound plus fish that have been caught all week, it's only a matter of time before some of those hefty monsters start to show up.

The ones who actually finds those in the lunker class will shape the standings for tomorrow. You can't forget that Goldbeck was next to last after Day One, now he's sniffing around the leader. Things can and do happen fast in these waters.

And all week, everyone has told us the bite is better during the last few hours of the day. We're getting to that point quick.

-- Steve Bowman


12:10
PM ET
Tommy Sanders just reported in that J. Todd Tucker has just added his second fish, another 2-pounder.

Meanwhile Goldbeck has added another 2-pounder as well. He has about 18 pounds total on four fish, and that's after as he explained on BassCam that he shook off a 6-pounder, while waiting for a 13-pound plus to bite.

Don't know how that 2-pounder figured into the mix, but Goldbeck seems to be sitting on the edge of a golden spawning bed. He's still well back from Shaw, but he's having the type tournament that anglers who have yet become household names need to have.

He lands that 13-plus and it will be a while before we forget him or it.

-- Steve Bowman


11:48
AM ET
After a long dry spell and another move to a different stretch of Lake Harris shoreline, VanDam finally caught another small fish. This one wasn't big enough to make the grade, and he summarily tossed it back. He's still pitching a worm into the grass edges, lifting it a couple of times before making another seamless pitch.

At the previous stop, a man along the shoreline came out to chat with VanDam. Looking at the entourage of spectator boats, the fellow said, "You must be important to have all these people watching you fish! You aren't the president, are you?"

"No," one of the onlookers said, "but the next thing to him."

-- Dave Precht


11:59
AM ET
Here's the first one we've seen J. Todd Tucker catch today. It's 11:45 a.m. and he has a small keeper.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:41
AM ET
Another fish for Grigsby, now fishing about 50 feet from Goldbeck. Shaw now has 12-13 pounds with 5 fish.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:40
AM ET
The big goal for several of today's anglers is to simply make the top 12 cut.

Right now we're pretty certain that Shaw, Golden, Goldbeck, KVD and Lane will be fishing tomorrow.

Interesting to note, though, that the other VD, Jonathon VanDam is currently inside the top 12 according to BASSTrakk.

He's in there with some pretty strong company. Along with those mentioned there's Alton Jones, Stephen Browning, James Niggemeyer and Terry Scroggins, just to mention a few of the top names.

The old saying "you fight fire with fire" kind of applies here.

Maybe that's the way you battle VanDam, with another VanDam.

-- Steve Bowman


11:34
AM ET
Zona has bailed out of Shaw's boat and is now in with Goldbeck. Everyone wants to see the 13 pounder. It's like the State Fair. More boats (media and spectators) have showed up at the entrance to this place. One angler grumbles that this place may be turning into a rotational exercise in futility. But he used different words -- circle something or other.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:24
AM ET
Angie Thompson is on the water and just ran across Jared Lintner, who is well away from the Mid-Lake ponds where Shaw, Golden and Goldbeck are putting together big sacks.

Lintner was in that area on Day One. And we expected him to return.

According to Thompson, though, Lintner said that when the weather deteriorated he wrote the area off. He went back today, but said he "didn't feel right" about being there. He's since moved into another lake and is flipping lily pads, "looking for the big girls."

-- Steve Bowman


11:20
AM ET
To watch all the BASSCam videos, go here.


11:13
AM ET
Slump is now broken by Pat Golden with a 1 1/2-pouner then Shaw with a 2 1/2 pounder from behind a barge. Shaw has right at 9 pounds right now.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:01
AM ET
Watch the hourly update with Dave Mercer live right now.


10:56
AM ET
Kevin VanDam just tossed his cookies. (Sorry, I couldn't resist writing that.)

To clarify: as Davy Hite trolled by VanDam's boat, the two exchanged words and VanDam threw him a couple of his cookies -- the ones his wife Sherry makes for him to munch on during competition. They're said to have magical powers, and the recipe is as closely guarded as the one for Coca Cola. One of the onlookers said, "I can't believe he's giving his cookies away."

If there is something to the legend about the cookies' power, expect Hite to make a move this afternoon. But, with his being in 47th place at the moment, two cookies probably won't be enough to help him catch VanDam and the other leaders. In exchange for the cookies, Hite left this bank to VanDam.

-- Dave Precht


10:54
AM ET
Grant Goldbeck has been looking at these two estimated 8 pounders for a while and constantly shaking off a 3-pound foot soldier. He's decided to change the game plan and catch the three and livewell him. He calls his shot and gets him in one cast. Now he's back to the two eights and just now he looks up and says "I wish I had a bluegill -- just saw a 13 eat one right under me." Wow.

-- Tommy Sanders


10:46
AM ET

Another run, another fish. KVD was able to cull one of his 12-inchers with this one. He's pitching a worm into the grass, paying out line to let it sink straight down. He just swung on a fish but missed. His pitches are fluid, underhand casts that land the bait without a ripple. His mechanics, as they say, are remarkable.

A pair of onlookers is perched on the dock he's fishing, calmly watching the sport's king work his magic. Their lakeside cabin is named "The Hideaway," but it's in full view of about a dozen boats full of onlookers. Davy Hite is just down the bank, less than 100 yards away, and working his way toward The Hideaway.

Hite hasn't caught a fish since we've been here, but VanDam just caught another, which also enabled him to cull a short fish. These aren't giants, but he's steadily upgrading his limit. He should have 10 or 11 pounds now.

-- David Hunter Jones


10:45
AM ET
To watch all the BASSCam videos, go here.


10:38
AM ET
This cove remains quiet -- going on an hour now. Goldbeck still spinning on and off the two fish he's looking at. Appears to be pitching in a 3 inch or so blue plastic craw.
I tell Overstreet I couldn't do this recreationally -- sit and work on one fish for four hours. J.O. says, "Man, I could and I do. You gotta remember it's only once a year." Good point.

-- Tommy Sanders


10:23
AM ET
On the docks Saturday morning:

A fall from fourth to seventh yesterday was enough to make Terry Scroggins abandon his Dora-Beauclair "just fishing" deal today. Yesterday he didn't expect the bass to pull up and start spawning again -- this morning the Florida expert called the current wave of spawners "a crazy deal" -- so today he will be mainly sight-fishing, or so he said before takeoff. He'll hit several places he knows about from past tournaments, but of course he will stay away from the leaders. Big Show was confident he had a good shot at a big bag like Grigsby's 29-8 of yesterday.

What a difference a year makes, says Cliff Crochet. Last year at this time, he and Keith Poche were sitting in a California motel room watching TV. Rookies in 2010, both had failed to make the top-50 cut in the season opener, and they were marking time until the next tournament (a back-to-back on the season opener, like this year). Today they are both in it for Day Three, Crochet in 8th, Poche in 37th.

Fred Roumbanis (32nd place after two days) also has year-ago memories of California he'd just as soon forget. A Cali native, Roumbanis bombed (his word) on his home waters of the Delta in the 2010 opener. It was a case of "fishing the past," he said -- relying on history rather than what was actually happening under his nose. The same thing happened the next week on Clear Lake, and that spun out his entire season. "It was a catch-up game all year," he said. This year, he said, just making it to Saturday has him feeling like he's left those 2010 mistakes behind him.

-- Deb Johnson


10:20
AM ET
There are two different perspectives out here: Just got a text from Zona in Shaw's boat saying Shaw thinks "there ain't much left." But Grant Goldbeck, just fifty feet away says he's looking at two 8's and a 5, plus another 3 pound male knocking around.

-- Tommy Sanders


10:19
AM ET

After a 5 minute run across Lake Harris, VanDam shut down near the mouth of a canal and, as usual, quickly boated a keeper. One member of his gallery noted that it's been that way for at least two days. He races to a spot, makes a few casts, and quickly catches a keeper. The last one, his fifth, is a good bass but we can't tell just how good. He's working the open water out from the buoys preventing entrance to the canal, waving off spectators who might be getting a tad close.He must like this spot; he just tied on a different color crankbait and made a dozen casts but only hauled water. Now, he's pitching a soft plastic lure into the grass where his latest fish had been hiding. He said earlier he was going to have to make a change to compensate for the change in conditions, and I guess this is it.

We're on the move again.

-- Dave Precht


10:18
AM ET
Pat Golden's 16 1/2 pound stringer puts him in an unofficial second at the moment with 47-6

He's about 4-pounds behind Grigsby, who maintains the lead with about 8-pounds on the day and 51-15 overall.

Goldbeck in third has three that weigh about 15 1/2 pounds and 43-10 overall.

VanDam follows him with four fish that weigh 5-pounds with 40-12.

Chris Lane is in fifth with two fish that total 8-pounds and gives him 39-6.

More updates are coming. And we expect the catch rate to start increasing at any moment. The sun is bright and things are heating up on land, it's sure to follow on the water.

-- Steve Bowman


10:10
AM ET

Check out the new photos from this morning's launch.


10:07
AM ET
Grant Goldbeck just caught the male (2 1/2 to 3 pounds) off the bed where his big target fish is. Pat Golden says he has four fish: a 6, 5, 4 and a dink. Maybe 16-17 pounds.

-- Tommy Sanders


10:01
AM ET
Live update right now with Dennis Tietje, who has shared water with Grigsby, Goldbeck and Golden.


9:59
AM ET
We have VanDam at about 6 pounds, maybe 7, for four fish. His Marshal may have a better estimate. (I tend to exaggerate my own catches but for some reason everyone else's fish weigh heavier than I guess them.) I'm trying to figure out why VanDam is targeting the stretches he's on. They all seem the same as miles of shoreline he's passing up. At the boat ramp he just left, he told me he hadn't caught anything there yesterday. I gather he's just "going fishing," working a hopscotch pattern that has paid off well for him so far in this tournament. My guess is there's submerged grass just off the emergent Kissimmee grass along the shore. He repeatedly pulls his crankbait through the unseen vegetation, reeling four or five turns and pulling again.

-- Dave Precht


9:58
AM ET

Shaw has located another big one, dabbled at her a while and then back off and made some long pitches. It's been quiet here in the community for about 30 minutes.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:52
AM ET

James Niggemeyer is making a little noise. BASSTrakk has him with three fish that weigh around 8-pounds. That has moved him into the top five, and we're still waiting on official word on Pat Golden's stringer, which could be heavy at this point.

-- Steve Bowman


9:44
AM ET

Four boats now like the points of a compass all within a 100 yard diameter circle at the end of this canal. Tucker is the only one using both power poles and a push pole to stay on a spot. Shaw feels like they are dividing fish, which is hurting him. Goldbeck now says he has an 8 and a 5 lber. We think Pat Golden has 4 fish with three of them pretty big. Trying to get closer to him.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:42
AM ET

This place is a little dead end canal off of a main connecting canal. Modest to mid-level homes all around it, each about 10 feet apart and if you don't have a party barge parked out front you would be an outcast. James Overstreet speculates on why this is such a good spawning place: stable water, protected from wind, no trees to speak of so the water is sunny and warms fast. A real nursery.

Shaw has moved off the fish he had spotted a minute ago and is doing a bit of prospecting.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:41
AM ET

The water on the Harris Chains is slick as glass, which could make things difficult for Kevin VanDam. We say that with sort of a tongue in the cheek.

He always pulls something out of his hat. But for us mere mortals, this is the kind of day that makes fishing and not sight-fishing difficult.

It will be interesting to see how he adjusts. As Deb Johnson notes below, he's good at that.

Adaptation: Kevin VanDam had 17-9 on Day 1, then 18-3 on Day 2. Almost the same result, but accomplished on the Harris Chain in very different ways, according to the four-time Bassmaster Classic champ.

"It was a totally different day. I fished 100 percent the opposite direction than I did yesterday, but it worked out," he said after weigh-in Friday, when he jumped several places to the No. 2 spot on the leaderboard. "I actually had a much better day than yesterday as far as getting bit. I was pretty excited about that aspect, because I wanted to have something different, whatever the conditions were.

"Today was going to be the critical day, and tomorrow should get even better. The thing here, you have to be consistent here every day."

VanDam said that to remain consistent in weights, he changed everything, from where he fished to the patterns and lures he used. It was his way to adapt to the switch from rain and cloudy skies to bright sunshine and higher winds.

He said he'd continue to hunt for a giant kicker, like Day Two leader Shaw Grigsby's 10-0. "That's what you've got to have here," VanDam said.

Going into Saturday's competition, Grigsby has 8-3 on VanDam.

-- Steve Bowman


9:40
AM ET

We've made yet another move, about a half-mile north. That's four within 45 minutes or so. VanDam hasn't changed his pattern yet, but he just boated another short fish that he had to throw back. Tyically the keeper limit on the Harris Chain is 14 inches, but for this tournament (and many local ones) an exemption from the FWC allows anglers to keep 12-inch fish. Just as I finish this he boats another one on a crankbait.

-- David Hunter Jones


9:38
AM ET

A couple things heard on the weigh-in stand, yesterday:

"It was pretty brutal for me today." -- Kevin Wirth after falling from 2nd place on Day One to 23rd place on Day Two.

"I have the utmost respect for the guys I fish against, and they're about to show you why." -- Kevin VanDam, first to weigh in Friday.

"Every day is a Jesus day for me, this was some kind of Jesus day." -- Shaw Grigsby after weighing 29 pounds, 8 ounces on Day 2 and taking the tournament lead with 43-15.

"I'm not on a ton of fish, but I'm on some good ones." -- Shaw Grigsby

"I've caught more fish the last two days than the previous four times we have been here. I'm telling you, I'm on fire." -- Jeff Kriet, 17th with 26-15

"I've been blessed two days in a row and can't wait to go out tomorrow." -- Stephen Browning in 3rd place with 34-5.

-- Deb Johnson


9:28
AM ET

All of us are focused in on this event but every few minutes we are reminded that folks in other parts of the world have more pressing things on their mind.

Check out James Halls' story on the tsunami and how the Japanese anglers are dealing with the tragedy in their home country. The news came across early yesterday and it did impact our Japanese contingent. None of them made today's cut and I'm sure they are all working diligently to stay in touch with their families.

It's not lost on any one around here how terrible that has to be for those anglers.

On that same note, the California Delta received a 4-foot surge from that tsunami. A year ago, we were in the middle of our first Elite event there.

-- Steve Bowman


9:27
AM ET

We just watched VanDam boat a short fish from the Hickory Point area. He said he thinks he's going to have to make a change for today because the lack of wind isn't helping his crankbait bite. The pace at which he's fishign is amazing; we've got the trolling motor on 50 and are barely keeping up with him.

-- David Hunter Jones


9:23
AM ET
After the three pounder goes in, Shaw moves a few feet away and finds a 5 pounder locked on the bed. We're very curious about the one that Golden just boated down the way, but afraid we'll miss something with the leader if we move away for five minutes.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:20
AM ET
We just made two moves following VanDam. The first on was about a half mile, where he made about 20 casts to a point, then we picked up again and are now about a quarter mile to the Hickory Point ramp on Lake Harris, where a lot of local tournaments lauch from. He's still cranking and still has about 2-1/2 pounds.

-- David Hunter Jones


9:19
AM ET
Shaw watches as Pat Golden boats one down the way. He congratulates him on finally catching the one he worked on for two days.

Seconds later, the fish that Shaw has been working on grabs and he boats it quickly. Just a little over three pounds. He'd just switched to a pearl craw -- something he could see a bit better.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:10
AM ET
Zona is still in the boat with Shaw. James Overstreet is tending to a small emergency -- luckily one of the nice folks here in Mid Lakes estates was happy to offer up the facilities. It was going to be more rustic until the offer came. I asked if J.O. had all the paperwork ready. He said "no, this was going to be one of those deals where you went went without socks all day."

-- Tommy Sanders


9:05
AM ET
Kevin just put his second keeper into the boat but he doesn't plan to keep it long. He had to measure to see if it's over the 12-inch minimum length for this tournament. It was just long enough to earn a ride in the KVD livewell.

-- Dave Precht


9:04
AM ET
Brent Chapman figures he would be a lot better off than 31st place at the start of today if the launch time had been a little earlier. "There's a seniors tournament on the chain this weekend, and they launched earlier than we did. When I got to the spot I had fished yesterday, there were several boats in there, and one was right on the place where I caught mine," he said. "When I pulled up they were already culling. Then I watch them boat a 4 pounder and a 6." For whatever reason, Chapman has 23-6 at the start of today, well off the pace from his Classic performance last month, when he finished fifth behind VanDam and the rest of the Lake Cataouatche crowd.

-- Dave Precht


9:01
AM ET
Shaw is looking at a 2 1/2-pound female on a sandy bed in about 2 feet of water buying time till the sun gets up and she locks on. He's using a small creature bait.

-- Tommy Sanders


8:56
AM ET
Shaw is now on the board -- 1 pound-plus squeaker. The water temp is 66 degrees. Shaw just wants a solid bag today.

-- Tommy Sanders


8:53
AM ET
VanDam is back to using his Classic-winning KVD 1.5 square bill crankbait, in chartreuse with black back according to David Hunter Jones, whose eyes are younger and better than mine. The weather is gorgeous today. Very little wind and bright sunshine. Which is probably why the action is a little slow today. I imagine VanDam is thinking about Shaw Grigsby and and others who are staking out bedding fish right now. They should have a field day.

-- Dave Precht


8:53
AM ET
Sanders and Zona are with Grigsby and he has yet to get started. But Grant Goldbeck isn't holding back.

He now has two fish. He's added a 5-pounder. Wonder if that's the one Sanders referred to in his blog?

But Goldbeck has jumped into second place, just a couple pounds behind Grigsby.

-- Steve Bowman


8:51
AM ET
Just rolling up on Shaw -- had to follow sheriffs boat in so no fudging. There are three spectator boats watching as well -- all anxious and charged up. So are we. Zonas going in the boat to do basscam stuff. Pat Golden is just within sight. Four boats total. Shaw says he had another five pounder he located yesterday, but one of the other boats picked it off. Doesn't know if this spot will hold much longer.

Pat Golden, Grant Goldbeck and J. Todd Tucker are in sight of Shaw's boat

-- Tommy Sanders


8:13
AM ET
There's something about Dead River that's as eerie as its name. Yesterday, as Gary Klein was idling through the channel, his GPS unit suddenly and inexplicably locked up. He had to navigate the old fashioned way the rest of the day. When he took the unit to Darrell Rollins, field technical specialist for Lowrance, Rollins noted something strange. Two other boaters' units locked at the same spot in Dead River as well. He had to take the units apart to reset the GPS. "I spent three hours on the phone with engineering, trying to work this out," he said. "We have seen this happen in the past, several years ago, when GPS was exposed to open ray radar, but I don't know what is causing this to happen now."

Skeet Reese, another victim of the Harris Chain Triangle phenomenon, decided to run through Dead River with the GPS off, and Klein thought he would do the same.

-- Dave Precht


8:46
AM ET
Grant Goldbeck is serious about staying at the top of the standings. He's boated an 8-pounder according to BASSTrakk.

He's still 7-pounds behind Grigsby, but it ties him with KVD for third place.

Chris Lane is in second.

Not a whole lot of catching taking place at the moment. But we expect that to pick up as the day wears on.

-- Steve Bowman


8:44
AM ET
KVD just caught a short fish on a crankbait. That wasn't enough to slow him down though, as he's continuing to move steadily along the grass edge, hugging the edge and casting just inside the grass in a parallel pattern. He now has 10 boats in his entourage.

-- Dave Precht


8:30
AM ET
VanDam has spent the first hour of fishing time slowly patrolling the bank, dissecting sparse Kissimmee grass with a variety of baits. In addition to the crankbait that caught his one keeper, he's tried a lipless crankbait -- a Red Eye Shad, I presume -- and made a few pitches with a flipping bait. It's an education, watchsnaing him run treble hooked baits through the vegetation. He occasionally snags in the grass but violently whips the bait free. If you've heard one of his seminars, you know that's when he gets many of his strrikes.

It's a little strange to see him running the bank. In most tournaments he's done this well in, he selects one or two fairly small areas and picks them apart. He's not moving very fast, though. He's covered about a 1/4 mile of bank since we caught up with him. And he did put his Power-Poles down for a few minutes as he scoured an open area in front of a dock. That's where his two bites and one fish came from.

-- Dave Precht


8:28
AM ET
Don't forget to tune into our 9 a.m., live update with Dave Mercer. He will have Randy Howell on as a guest.

They will give you a little insight into how this event has been taking place the last few days.

And my guess is they will likely talk about Howell's catching a gator, foul-hooking a 7-pounder and then taking a dip into the water on Day Two.

Other unseen variables that make this sport so compelling.

To give you a little insight. This comes from Deb Johnson:

Howell takes a dip: Randy Howell thought he had used up all of his bad luck on Day One when he dealt with a baby alligator that was a little too curious about his bait. But, he said that Lady Luck left him again the afternoon of Day Two.

"I had just hooked a 4-pounder and got her close to the boat, and just before I could get a hold of her she came undone," he said. "I made a lunge for her and ended up going into the water head first. I lost my cap in the process; it's nasty under those pads."

Howell went on to say that he hurried out of the water for fear of meeting the baby gator's mother.

-- Steve Bowman


8:26
AM ET
We just pulled up on VanDam and his flotilla of eight boats or so. We've watched him get three strikes on a lipless crankbait, one of which he boated. It'll probably go a pound and a half.

-- David Hunter Jones


8:25
AM ET
In answer to the comment below on Derek Remitz: Yes, he did fish. And as crazy as it seems, Remitz zeroed both days.

He is one of those anglers who got caught in making the wrong decisions at the right time. Count him and Bobby Lane in the same boat. Lane didn't zero but on his home water he feels like he did.

Both are deeply disappointed. But both are also at the top of the game nine days out of 10. We expect to see each of them back on their games next week.

Every angler who has ever fished has had those unexplainable "bad" days. You hate to see that happen to any Elite angler with so much riding on just having a fish in the boat.

But we've see these type things often, especially in Florida. Think back a couple of years and remember how Brian Snowden was up big on these lakes and on the last day, gave up the ghost and allowed Mike McClelland to slip into the winner's seat.

Those are the things that make this sport so exciting. Dealing with skills and talents is something every athlete does. Having to compare those to the whims of nature and the desires of a little green fish is something that truly sets bass fishing apart, and makes guys like KVD seem like they come from another world.

-- Steve Bowman


8:15
AM ET
Zero to hero: After bringing in one bass Thursday that weighed 1-1, Grant Goldbeck hauled in five on Friday that went 27-1, the second-largest bag of the day. He shot from 97th place to 16th, well within the top-50 cutline.

"It's all about decisions out here," he said of his decisive recovery. "[Thursday] I left what's the best area at about 11:30, 12 o'clock, and I shouldn't have. I couldn't see them as good [Thursday] with the wind and overcast sky."

Goldbeck is sharing sight-fishing real estate with Day One leader Pat Golden and Day Two leader Shaw Grigsby.

"They starting to show up more and more, and we've seen a lot of big fish cruising, and hopefully they'll commit tomorrow," he said.

After Thursday's disappointment, Goldbeck called his family at home (now Boerne, Texas). He said his 5-year-old son tried to console him by saying, "Daddy, catch five big ones tomorrow."

Grinning after Friday's weigh-in, Goldbeck said: "I can't wait to talk to him."

-- Deb Johnson


8:13
AM ET
The action didn't take long to get started. Chris Lane, who figured to be a favorite in this event, is starting Day Three strong.

Lane has boated a 7-pounder in the first few minutes of the event. That fish pushes him into second above Kevin VanDam.

The only other catches at the moment are coming from the other VanDam, Jonathon with 1-pounder. Jason Williamson has a 1 1/2-pounder. Neither of those fish shake up the board at any way.

Shaw Grigsby has yet to get his little pond where he did his damage yesterday.

-- Steve Bowman


7:44
AM ET

Day Three is officially under way. In a few minutes BASSTrakk should start updating, although most of the catches in this event have been taking place later in the day.

We will be watching Shaw Grigsby with great interest. He caught a monster bag yesterday and conventional knowledge would hold he couldn't do it again. But this is Florida and this Shaw Grigsby. One is an enigma, the other is the best spring-time fishermen ever.

An interesting thing we heard on the dock. This comes from Dave Precht, who said it came from Gary Klein. Klein and Grigsby are best friends.

Yesterday, Grigsby had a 5-pounder on a bed that just kept biting. But he wouldn't catch that fish. Why?

Not because he was saving that 5-pounds for today. But because that 5-pounder was sitting in the middle of two 10-pound fish.

Wherever that bed is, you can guess Grigsby is headed straight there. Overstreet, Zona and Sanders will be close behind.

Interesting to see how that little scenario plays out. If he caught all three of those, it's likely he wouldn't have to catch another until tomorrow.

-- Steve Bowman


7:21
AM ET

There seems to be something familiar about the start of this blog.

Feels like it was just a few days ago when we were at the Classic and doing the very same thing, in more ways than one.

First, we will be giving you as close to up-to-the-minute information today from on the water. We have several sets of eyes on the water including the team of James Overstreet, Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona. Dave Precht and David Jones will be out as well, along with a few cameramen and Marshals tucked away.

We should be able to give you a pretty good look at how this event will progress.

Secondly, the most familiar part of this day to the Classic is the bank of fog that is building on either side of us at the take off dock. The only good thing about that, is the sun is already up and burning it off. By the time the 7:30 a.m. (EST) start comes, it should be gone.

It will be interesting after tonight's time change, though, if that fog will affect the final day start.

Today should prove to be an interesting day. We have half the field vying for an opportunity to get into the top 12 and for the first time in who knows when, there is a realistic chance for anyone in this field to do that.

Grant Goldbeck scored the Elite Series' most amazing comeback ever by jumping from next to last place on Day One to 16th place on Day Two. There were other similar jumps. There were even similar falls down the leaderboard.

No one is safe in a Florida event. Just ask Bobby Lane. He was an odds-on favorite going in and wound up comfortably in the 90s on the standing sheet, not only killing fantasy teams all over the country but proving just how fickle the fishing in this state can be.

We expect more of that fickleness today. Will Shaw catch another huge bag, picking off bedding fish? Can Grant Goldbeck pull another miracle or will he repeat Day One? Is VanDam just lucky or what? Can Chris Lane avenge his brother's demise? Will Terry Scroggins make a show of it? Will both Florida boys survive?

Those are the questions running through our collective minds. We will be doing our best to answer them all day. Stay tuned.

-- Steve Bowman