LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn likes competing in the format set up for the three CITGO Bassmaster Majors this season. The Legends event is the final Major this year.
"It's not like the Classic when you're trying to have the No. 1 catch every day," said the Ava, Mo., resident. "You're just trying to make that cut because it all goes to zero after that."
The top-12 anglers after Friday's weigh-in will compete on the six-hole course set up in the Little Rock pool Saturday. It's an area that is off limits for the first two days of the tournament. Those 12 start with zero weight Saturday, but the weight of the top six anglers after Saturday's weigh-in does carry over to Sunday, when the top finisher will win $250,000.
Clunn caught only three keepers Thursday, but they weighed 10 pounds, 15 ounces, good enough for third place. And third place is just fine with Clunn right now.
"If I can catch three more good keepers Friday to go with these, then I'll make the cut," Clunn said. "Then you can worry about winning the thing.
"That's what's kind of neat about this format. It's the one event that you don't have to worry about winning until you make the cut. It allows you to fish a little more relaxed."
Clunn is in the same backwater area where Brian Snowden of Reeds Spring, Mo., caught his Day One first place bag of 15-8. Clunn knows there are more big bass in the area, but he believes there's a key to catching them.
"I understand where the big fish live this time of year," he said. "There's better numbers in other areas, but I'm just trying to fish where the big fish live.
"There's one thing that nobody ever writes about. You have to give your fish relief. You're got to take your presence away from there after you've worked on them for a little while. Normally, you can take your presence away for 30 minutes or so, then you can come back to them.
"When they settle back down and reposition, then you can catch a few more."
Bring your binoculars
There's one factor that won't allow you to follow Clunn's "remove your presence" philosophy in a fishing hole. And that's if there are spectator boats coming too close.
"The guys I had following me today are my favorites," Clunn said of observers using binoculars and staying out of his fishing area. "I've always said, if I can hear your cell phone go off, you're too close.
"Keep the binocular companies in business. Get yourself a pair of binoculars."
Clunn was among the leaders after two days on the Potomac River in the last CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series event two weeks ago. But he was among several contenders fishing in the same narrow creek channel off the main river. On the third day Clunn finally left the area because all the boat traffic made it so tough to catch fish there.
"They couldn't stay off of us in there because it was such a confined area," Clunn said. "It was the worst I've ever seen in my whole life."