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Live Blog

3/13/2011


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

3:34
PM ET

I just made a call around and not much has changed on the weight front. Grigsby and Goldbeck are on their way in as are most of the anglers.

PHOTO GALLERY

On the water

Those in Dora are still looking for that one big, really huge, fish that could change the landscape.

Now it's up to how close the Marshals got with their estimations and who might pull something off within eyesight of the check-in dock.

There's still a lot of things that could happen, but it looks like Shaw Grigsby will likely pull this off.

-- Steve Bowman


3:26
PM ET

Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders, who have been on the water most of the day in the pond where Grigsby and Goldbeck have been bed fishing, will be on at 3:40 for the final Hooked Up! leading into the weigh-in.

Click here to watch.

The weigh-in will be streamed live from Wooten Park in downtown Tavares, Fla., immediately after Hooked Up!


2:44
PM ET

Chris Lane let me hop in the boat with him for a few minutes as he raked the sides of the Beauclair Canal with his Gambler Cane Toad.

He would flip the cattails but earlier tries left him frustrated. I saw him catch a 2-pounder as we approached, and he caught a short fish as Alton Jones passed him.

He and Jones have shared the tiny canal the last few days, and an uneasy truce has held. Both have had good catches prior to today, but they seem to have run short on big fish, although Lane has had one and seem others.

"I had a 7 1/2-pounder eat it (Gambler Cane Toad), and another one that tried to eat it, probably bigger. That one's still in there," he said.

-- Dave Precht


2:25
PM ET

The slowness of these final hours are killing me. I keep waiting for one of these guys to punch one of the big ones and play out some legendary heroics.

Anything to break the non-fish-catching monotony.

Sanders and Zona are back and they will soon do their Hooked Up! show.

They will give us a great deal of insight into the dead-end canal where Grant Goldbeck and Shaw Grigsby have made an amazing stand.

If you will remember, conventional knowledge, dock talk, pundits' BSing, you name it. Everyone said there was no way bed fishing would last more than a day or two.

Grigsby, who has refined that tactic, obviously had other ideas. Goldbeck was just too hard-headed.

But they still remain on four fish each. The door is open for Goldbeck and it remains cracked for at least one other angler, Stephen Browning, to pull something out.

BASSTrakk is basically done for the day. But we will continue trying to get updates from our sources on the water. All we need to hear is that Grigsby has one quality fish. If not, then the game could have some surprises at the weigh-in.

--
Steve Bowman


2:21
PM ET

If BASSTrakk numbers have any truth to them, and they are relatively close although totally unofficial, Grant Goldbeck or Stephen Browning will have to bust a true hawg in the final moments to have any chance.

Grigsby, who started the day 11-10 ahead of Goldbeck, had to suffer through a run where Goldbeck kept flipping in nice keepers while his were mostly smallish. They're fishing within earshot and know what each other has. Goldbeck cut that lead to 4-2 and a fish like the 13 he sat on yesterday could clinch a victory for him.

It'd also be the biggest of the event, and that's probably what's needed for Browning. The Arkansas angler's estimated weight is close to Goldbeck, showing he's ounces back in third.

We saw him do his bingo, bongo bam act on the latest Hooked Up! Can you imagine what one of those anglers would do with if they landed one of the monsters, even Shaw, as it would be a clincher.

-- Mike Suchan


2:11
PM ET

Dustin Snelson, 18, of Leesburg, Fla., is trying to raise enough money to go to Kentucky to compete in the 2011 Junior Bassmaster portion of the upcoming B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Divisional tournament.

As the state champ, he earned the right to represent Florida, but he's responsible for getting himself there. Much of the money is coming from his job at a car wash when he's not in school. A local tournament two weeks ago helped out, too.

His entire family is pitching in, including his grandmother. She made a quilt with a fishing theme that's being raffled off. Tickets were being sold at a booth set up at the Sunshine Showdown in Tavares, Fla., host of this Elite Series event.

"The point of the fundraisers are so I can keep moving forward toward my goal of a career as an angler," he said. "I'm focused on the Kentucky trip right now, and I'm getting a lot of help."

While his family members help sell the raffle tickets, Snelson has been watching the Elite competition from backstage as a Florida B.A.S.S. Federation Nation volunteer runner. He's been able to meet several of the Elite anglers.

His favorite? A fellow Florida-grown angler, of course. His pick to win is Shaw Grigsby.

-- Deb Johnson


2:01
PM ET

Dave Mercer and James Hall are discussing the intracies that are occurring on Day Four of the Sunshine Showdown.

Click here for live video


1:49
PM ET

It appears to have really slowed down. We still have our two leaders -- Grigsby and Goldbeck -- with four fish a piece.

Goldbeck could take the lead with a 5-pounder. Anything Grigsby catches makes that number go up to whatever the weight he catches.

And Browning, who has had the best day of the dozen, is just five pounds back. But he needs a giant to make the move.

In a little bit, our updates will practically cease. We will get what we can, but Zona and Sanders are headed in to do the 3:40 p.m., Hooked Up!. Overstreet is with them and will likely have a pretty impressive on-the-water gallery coming soon.

Our main point of emphasis will be to watch Grigsby. If he catches another he will have the hammer in his hand to nail this down. If he doesn't, he can still win, but the door remains open for Goldbeck and Browning.

KVD is about 9 pounds back. He can be magical, but at this point he would need some serious magic to make up the ground he needs.

The next two hours could be key. They all mentioned that the afternoon bite has been better. But we haven't seen it today. Not to mention the lakes where KVD and Browning are fishing are full of pleasure boaters.

--
Steve Bowman

Click here for images from the Sunshine Showdown


1:42
PM ET

Pat Golden left his pond early Saturday to try out Lake Harris, but he said he would probably return Sunday to what's been a goldmine for him.

The area is a canal along Haines Creek that opens up in the back to pondlike areas with deep and shallow water. It's a small space packed with spawners, and he's been sharing it with leader Grigsby and runner-up Grant Goldbeck.

"I felt like I had gotten what I was going to get out of there," Golden said after he weighed in 17-8 Saturday. "But I'll go back. I've been getting a big fish out of there every day. There was another 6-pounder on a bed in there, and I don't know if one of those guys got it, but the fish are still in there."

--
Deb Johnson


1:30
PM ET

Here's the latest update from BASSTrakk, our system of keeping a running track of the anglers while they are out on the water.

Marshals in their boats have a handheld device that they punch in their estimated weight of the angler's fish. It is unofficial and just a guideline.

Goldbeck had been gaining on Grigsby all day, and a big fish in the final hours could be the difference.

--
Mike Suchan


1:23
PM ET

Even though Grigsby was leading by 11-10 at the start of the day, he didn't seem super confident.

"It'll be a tight one," he said.

Hmmm. Rather prophetic.

--
Deb Johnson


1:05
PM ET

What's a "couillon"? That's the nickname Cliff Crochet (12th place with 39-11) gave the SPRO topwater frog that he said he planned to use today. He's been into a "frog and flippin' deal" all week, he said.

"Dean (Rojas) throws 'Kermit,' so when I used it, I named it "Couillon," he said.

The word, according to the Louisiana State University's online Cajun French dictionary, is pronounced "KOO Yon," and means "crazy" or "fool."

"Execution in heavy cover's been my problem," Crochet said. "I've only had one limit so far. I had just three yesterday, but my average was good and I made the cut."

--
Deb Johnson


12:48
PM ET

The anglers boat wraps sure make it easier for us on the water scribes to distinguish the pros from weekend anglers, and to identify individual pros. Grant Goldbeck's Knighton Industries wrap is distinctive.

The company makes industrial pumps and isn't what you'd call "endemic" to the Sportfishing industry.

Goldbeck signed them on after meeting the owners, Bryan and Jeanie Knighton, at dinner during an Elite event on Lake Amistad a few years ago, where Bryan was a marshal.

Goldbeck and the Knightons hit it off, and they soon decided to sponsor the young pro.

--
Dave Precht


12:44
PM ET

Kevin VanDam is trying to rally as well. He just caught a 5-pounder. That gives him 14 1/2, which is 9 pounds back.

He has to have four more of those five-pounders to get even. We won't say that's impossible, because we know it could happen to anyone. And then again, we're talking about KVD. He's been able to capture the magic before. And it always starts with that one fish. Maybe this 5-pounder is it.

Deb Johnson reports that VanDam wasn't that thrilled with his Day Three weight of 12-14.

"I struggled to catch what I caught," he said. "There's so much grass there, it's like hunting for a needle in a haystack."

KVD said he has keyed on bass moving into grass to spawn. It hasn't produced the big ones that had the leaders more than 10 pounds ahead of him. He knows Sunday means taking some huge swings.

"I'm quite a bit behind those guys, so I've got to do something outstanding. But I have seen in practice, where a big group of big fish is in a small area, and that's what I have to find again, that's what I'm looking for. That's what we're all looking for."

--
Steve Bowman


12:42
PM ET

Stephen Browning keeps plugging along, Wes Miller reports that he's caught a 4-pounder and upgraded a half pound or more. That puts him at 16 and change, less than six pounds off Grigsby's pace.

Browning is still behind Goldbeck, but he's fighting for every ounce. He would need a couple of those giants, culling 3-pounders for 4-pounders won't do it.

--
Steve Bowman


12:39
PM ET

Lest you think this one is over -- we think it's Shaw with four fish for 11 pounds and Grant with four fish for 18 pounds. Another big one by Grant and everyone will be getting tense!

-- Tommy Sanders


12:26
PM ET

Tommy Sanders just called in with a report that Grant Goldbeck just added a 5 1/2 pounder, cutting the difference between him and Shaw by around 4 pounds and change.

PHOTO GALLERY

Aerial gallery

Grigsby has about 10 pounds, while Goldbeck has about 17 pounds.

Obviously, Grigsby will have to keep catching them. We were thinking he was close to nailing the coffin shut earlier, but Goldbeck just keeps edging closer.

One of those really big fish that are swimming around that little pond could change the game completely.

The nice thing for Grigsby, though, is he's watching Goldbeck. They are actually talking back and forth when they do catch one.

That may seem like it could be a pressure-filled situation. But Grigsby is veteran who has been completely laid back all week, plus he has a big lead.

I doubt he's feeling any pressure at the moment. But that 13-pounder that Goldbeck was trying to catch yesterday shows up and things could get a little heated in a lot of ways.

Worth watching.

-- Steve Bowman


11:47
aM ET

Shaw works one spawner for about 10 minutes -- bites, then a 3.5 comes in the boat.

Zona, in the boat, says that Shaw, with more than 11 pounds, knows he is close to closing this.

Moments earlier, Goldbeck called his shot and landed a 3.5 pounder he had been working on for 30 minutes.

Watching was a fan from here in the neighborhood, Barbara Hemenway-Marks. She said she has been following his comeback story and insisted that she give him a kiss for that catch. So Goldbeck trolled over for a hug and a peck on the cheek.

-- Tommy Sanders


11:44
aM ET

If it existed, Grant Goldbeck of Boerne, Texas, would win top climber award.

On Day One he weighed 1-1 for 97th place (out of 99 anglers). Day 2 he whumped 27-1 on the scale, pulling him into the first cut at No. 16. Day 3 he brought in 22-15 more, jumping into second place.

He trailed leader Shaw Grigsby by 11-10 this morning.

One chance to overtake Grigsby is if he can find and get a big girl to notice. Goldbeck said he spend some time last night contemplating how to trigger a solid bite from a big female that probably runs 12 to 14 pounds. He spent four hours on that one bass Saturday with negative results.

"I brought a couple extra baits today for her," he said. "I decided I need to get big and aggressive and put something on the bed that will make her puff her chest up."

One bait in his powered-up arsenal is a 9-inch swimbait.

-- Deb Johnson


11:35
aM ET

Rookie Jonathon VanDam. who made the final-day cut in his first Elite Series event, says he isn't rattled by the fact that his famous uncle is two places ahead of him on the leaderboard.

Ditto for the uncle. Kevin VanDam grinned when he was asked how he felt about his brother's kid nipping at his heels. VanDam, the reigning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, was in fifth place and his nephew was in seventh place going into the fourth and final day.

"That's pretty cool, it will be fun," KVD said. "He's trying to build a name for himself, so it's a great way to start. The money he'll earn will be good, too. It's tough out there for rookies to find sponsorships."

At Saturday's weigh-in, JVD tracked the leaderboard closely to see if he would make the cut, the 12 anglers with the highest weights after three days. He held at sixth place for a while, then dropped to rest in seventh after Stephen Browning popped into third.

"The first professional event I've ever fished, I finished third, and I've been fishing the (Bassmaster) Opens for some time, and made the cuts there, and I won an Open," Jonathon VanDam said. "But this is even more exciting."

-- Deb Johnson


11:15
aM ET

Emptying out the notebooks, these tidbits were overheard on Day Three.

"I shook off a 7-pounder trying to catch a 13 or 14 pounder. They were fighting over the bait." -- Grant Goldbeck

"I was caught between a Lane brother and a VanDam ... so I just ran out of fish." -- Matt Greenblatt

"I felt like I was in a bar or something ... you had to go through ten males to get to one female." -- Jonathan VanDam

"I'm going to be doing a whole lot of praying and sweating tonight." -- Shaw Grigsby

"Consistency is the name of this game, and I consistently caught less fish every day." -- Brandon Paluniuk

"My wife told me before I left home, if I picked up a crankbait while I was in Florida, don't come home. So I picked up a worm and a lizard." -- Rick Clunn

"I probably fished too many memories this week." -- Mike McClelland


11:12
aM ET

Jonathon VanDam flipped up a keeper, just big enough to replace the smallest bass in his limit.

Still, "it won't help me much," he complained. "I need more like the one you saw me catch a while go."

That one weighs about 4. He has about 11 1/2 to 12 pounds in the well.

VanDam comes from a family of exceptional fishermen, as you know. His dad, Randy, owner of D&R Sports in Kalamazoo, Mich., holds the Lake Erie smallmouth record with a 9-pound, 8- ounce giant.

-- Dave Precht


11:09
aM ET

Now that we are on the final day, we can get a little more specific on where these guys are spending their day.

PHOTO GALLERY

Launch gallery

Grigsby and Goldbeck are in a small pond at the dead end of a canal between lakes Eustice and Griffin.

Pat Golden started in Lake Harris this morning, but has moved back into the same pond. He spent the first three days there.

Browning fished the upper reaches of Lake Griffin on Days One and Two and yesterday and today is in Lake Dora.

Rick Clunn is in Dora as well.

Chris Lane is in the Apopka River and Alton Jones is off the river in a canal.

James Niggemeyer is in the southern end of Lake Harris. VanDam was on the northern edge of Lake Harris but has moved to to southern side where Little Lake Harris joins the bigger lake.

Jonathon VanDam and Terry Scroggins are also in Lake Dora, but they are also going into Beauclair.

Cliff Crochet is in the marshy area north Lake Griffin where he, Kevin Wirth and Stephen Browning spent the first two days.

-- Steve Bowman


10:47
aM ET

Whoops -- someone just flipped the switch on.

Grant Goldbeck hooks and lands one that looks to be a six to seven pounder at least.

Not 15 seconds later, Grigsby fights in a 4-pounder on his drop shot rig on the other side of the pond.
Grigsby: "I just wanted you to know I'm still here."

Goldbeck: "Got it. Let's catch em now".

-- Tommy Sanders


10:39
aM ET

BASSTrakk just showed us that Grant Goldbeck boated a 7-pounder, and Grigsby followed that with a 3 1/2 pounder.

That starts to give Grigsby a little daylight. But more than that, it shows that there are still fish (obviously some big ones) that remain in the small pond where they are fishing.

-- Steve Bowman


10:34
aM ET

Kevin VanDam hopes Strike King catches up with production of his KVD 1.5 crankbait in his favorite color. He's running low and can't get any more.

After he won the Bassmaster Classic with it, "Sales were off the charts," he said. "You couldn't find one in chartreuse/black back in a Bass Pro Shops the Monday after the Classic."

That's the color he used in the Louisiana Delta, and it's helped him to fifth going into the final round here.

The Classic winning lure is historically a hot seller, and manufacturers always hope that theirs wins the lottery. VanDam has long been on Strike King's team. To his and their credit, he was honest in telling the world that he won the 2005 Classic on a competitor's bait -- a Smithwick Rattling Rogue jerkbait.

-- Dave Precht


10:20
aM ET

After catching his last keeper, Browning retired his Zinker rig, shed his jacket and pitched pack to the same spot his 2 1/2 came from. Maybe he thought a big female was there as well. If she was, she remained hard to get.

Browning said he chose Lake Dora because he can spend more time fishing and less time idling through canals. What's more, "Larry Nixon told me some big giants live in here." He's hoping to catch a couple today.

-- Dave Precht


10:16
aM ET

Wes Miller, Stephen Browning's cameraman, just sent a text that Browning has caught a 3 1/2 pounder, which culled a 2-pounder. That moves him up a 1 1/2, and for a short moment past the leader Shaw Grigsby.

Grigsby only has two at the moment, though. That last one came at about the same time as Brownings', and Grigsby is keeping him at bay by just a few ounces.

There's kind of a tit-for-tat battle going on at the moment between those two. Of course all Grigsby has to do is catch three more and Browning's culls have to be much bigger for this little battle to last.

Again, this is Florida and anything is possible. The day is still a long was from being over.

-- Steve Bowman


10:15
aM ET

Stephen Browning strikes again. He just swung in a 2 1/2 pounder, culling one of his 13-inchers.

Interestingly, he's caught about 15 pounds off a short, 100-yard stretch within sight of the launch. We watched Rick Clunn fish this same section at the start today but didn't see him catch anything.

Clunn was fishing much faster, though. Browning is literally inching along, pitching to each side of every clump of cattails he can reach. He told me earlier he's using a Texas rigged stickworm, the Z-Man Zinker. In the dark it appeared to be black with blue flake.

-- Dave Precht


10:13
aM ET

Shaw Grigsby boated another small bass, a keeper but barely more than a pound.

I ask Grant Goldbeck when things are going to start happening. He says "an hour, I'm thinking."

He has looked at beds this morning where he has caught the female and the bucks over the last few days and he says that new fish have moved in. He seems totally upbeat and vows that the action will get good when the big ones lock on later in the day.

Both he and Shaw are affable and exchange lots of banter, despite the final day nerves. A bit of a different story from yesterday, when there were four anglers working this tiny place and the conversation was minimal.

-- Tommy Sanders


10:03
aM ET

A couple hours into Day Four, the BASSTrack standing are interesting enough.

As Shaw only has one in the boat, Stephen Browning has a limit of 14 pounds right now and is within an ounce in these totalling unofficial results.

Of course, Shaw only has one fish and a limit would get him back on top by a good margin. He started the day off 11-10 ahead of Goldbeck, but as noted earlier, Brian Snowden zeroed on this very same body of water in 2008, allowing Mike McClelland to surprise even himself with a victory. See that story here.

-- Mike Suchan


9:47
aM ET

As soon as the sun cleared the distant trees to the east about half an hour ago, the visibility in the water improved dramatically.

Both Shaw and Grant are working the west side, the sunny and warmer side of this little pond. Both are seeing good ones, stopping to fish and then finding that the females are not truly locked down.

This situation has improved the past three days with the sun getting higher and the water warming.
The community residents -- a few of them -- have locked down in armchairs and are watching the show.
It's warming fast. The sun may chase them inside a bit later. I'd be surprised if a single house in this extremely tidy neighborhood was more than 1000 square feet, but they all seem to have 2-3 tons a/c units sitting beside them. Florida.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:36
aM ET

Just walked in from a trip in the helicopter. And as I walked through the door, Wes Miller, our cameraman, texts that Stephen Browning has just sacked 5 and 3-pound bass.

That moves Browning right near the lead. Grigsby has one and will obviously need more. Browning is hoping Grigsby goes the way of Brian Snowden a few years ago.

-- Steve Bowman


9:31
aM ET

Every bed we can see is crawling with 3-inch bream and tilapia.

Shaw Grigsby has been working the same bed for a while now, and has now stopped to put a fairly large soft plastic creature bait on a drop shot rig. By the time he gets it all rigged up and ready, though, the big bass has moved on. So Shaw moves on.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:24
aM ET

Jonathon VanDam just boated his fourth keeper and it's a nice one, a solid 4-pounder.

The fish hit at the juncture of bulrush and a patch of Kissimmee grass. He's been methodically pitching all morning, in direct contrast to his uncle, Kevin VanDam, who can barely force himself to put down his crankbait.

--Dave Precht


9:20
aM ET

Shaw has located another (big?) female. Trying the craw and even dropping the big swimbait item in there to try and get her fired up.

Zona (in the boat with Shaw) says it's working some -- she's starting to heat up and chase bluegills around.

-- Tommy Sanders


9:10
aM ET

We're back in the spot that has served up the leader every day and the first thing you notice is that Pat Golden is not here. He found a spot late yesterday that was more to his liking (maybe a bit more privacy plus an 3 and 4 pound catch).

That leaves Shaw Grigsby and Grant Goldbeck as the only two anglers in the pit.

Shaw says the early start is a bit tougher (time change) because of limited visibility early). He starts out blind casting a swimbait looking lure while Goldbeck is making specific pitches with a plastic craw.
Grigsby then finds a 5 pounder locked on and then goes to work with the craw himself. Not taken, he moves down a few feet and hooks a two pounder that goes in the livewell.

About four other boats in here -- camera boats and spectators -- but so far no other anglers. A local tournament has launched this morning and the possibility of more company has been in the mind of these two.

--Tommy Sanders


8:48
aM ET

I noticed a small watermelon soft plastic craw on Shaw Grigsby's deck this morning and assumed that was the secret to his incredible success.

"No, That's just the first one I found. The bait I've been using is in here somewhere," he said, opening the lid to a locker of lure bags in incredible disaray. "I've never used that one before, but it will catch 'em. As you can see, I'm well organized." seeing his lure locker makes me feel better about my own messiness."

--Dave Precht


8:42
aM ET

JVD has three fish for about 6 pounds, his observer texted me. The water's surface is slick-calm and the sky is spotless -- the best of conditions for what he's doing. The sight fishermen ought to love it, though.

--Dave Precht


8:39
aM ET

Stephen Browning was tying on a Chatterbait this morning while waiting for blastoff. I asked how many he's caught on it, and he said none so far.

"Rick Clunn told me yesterday that he had been catching fish on one yesterday. We're fishing close to each other on Dora. When he found out he had made the cut into the finals, he said, 'Erase what I said from your mind.' But I can't erase it," he grinned.

-- Dave Precht


8:34
aM ET

The competition has barely begun and already the Lake Dora crowd is sticking fish. Jonathan VanDam already has two in the boat for 4 pounds, according to his cameraman, David Hunter Jones. JVD is pitching redflake Speed Worms into the grass.

My Marshal, Jack Dale of Gun Lake, Mich., and I are watching Rick Clunn flipping bulrushes and cranking lipless crankbaits parallel to shore. Tournament officials assigned a Marshall to keep me honest, I guess. So you can trust what I blog from here on out.

No fish for Clunn yet. Great to see him in the finals. I was his media observer in my first tournament way back in 1978, and he's one of the pros who's had the biggest influence on my career with B.A.S.S.
Dave Precht

-- Dave Precht


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