The Elusive Kicker


BREWERTON, N.Y. — It was an odd scene on the docks Thursday morning on the first day of the Bassmaster Memorial presented by Evan Williams Bourbon.

The sun was up, and had been for at least an hour, and there were only two boats rocking beside the docks at Oneida Shores County Park on Oneida Lake. (And one of them wasn't Timmy Horton back with a huge bag, eating pizza.)

Shaw Grigsby and Jason Quinn were fixing their tackle, getting ready to take off for the second Elite Series major at 8 a.m., which is several hours later than the usual Elite event.

"I actually felt a little guilty when I woke up this morning," Quinn said. "I think it's great."

Quinn said he is going to be looking for 15 to 16 pounds on a combination of small and largemouth bass. He'll start the day going after a limit of smallmouth and then try and find that kicker largemouth, which he said will be tougher than it was last year.

"I think we revealed last year what a great largemouth fishery this is and they have been pounded on," Quinn said. "The water is a little bit lower and there is a lot of vegetation that's not here that was here last year."

It seemed to be a consensus on the dock that it would take a combination bag, and that the cut would be somewhere between 28 and 30 pounds. The inconsistency came when anglers were asked just what size smallmouth they are finding in Oneida. Fred Roumbanis said he shouldn't have any trouble bagging a 15-pound sack of largemouth, but Kevin VanDam didn't see that kind of potential.

"It's just hard to catch a 4-pound smallmouth here, but there are a good number of 4-pound largemouth," VanDam said. "I am going to fish for smallmouth to begin with, but then I am going to target the largemouth."

Jared Lintner, who sits in third in Angler of Year points, says he thinks an angler can crack the top-12 on smallmouth alone — but it's not something he's interested in trying to do.

"If plans go well, I'll get some smallies early then hit some areas where I've found some largemouth," Lintner said. "At the same time though, I know there are some nice smallmouth out there.

"Monday, I got on a deal for a little while and the smallest smallmouth I caught was three pounds."

Just about everybody said they were going to go from small to large — bag a limit and search for a 6-pounder.

"I'm am going to wait for the sun to get a little higher, and maybe put some of those bigger largemouth up under the docks," said Bill Lowen, whose best finish this season is 13th at the Sooner Run on Grand Lake in Oklahoma.

Roumbanis was one of the few anglers who said he would start by going after the largemouth bite, but with his faith in the size of the smallmouth on Oneida, he still feels like he'll be trading up as the day goes on.

"I am going to start with largemouth, but then I am going to try and get some smallies that are the same size or bigger," he said. "If I just utilize my time right, I should have no problem catching 15-plus pounds."

Editor's note: Check in each day for live video of the weigh-in and the realtime leaderboard at 6 p.m. ET. There will be a special Hooked Up show at 10 a.m. ET Saturday, with tournament updates Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon ET. The Hooked Up show begins at 5 p.m. Sunday and leads into the live final weigh-in.

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