DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

TOMMY BIFFLE LEADS DAY THREE AT WEST POINT

Posted by Z3 MEDIA TEAM on 05/04/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush - Photos by Dave Rush

LaGrange, GA – The rain started shortly after launch on the third day of competition at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on West Point Lake, and it persisted throughout the day on the Georgia fishery that has proven to be stingy throughout the week.  

After the first two days, where only two anglers were able to bring in limits weighing at least 15-pounds and just 18 anglers were able to average at least 10-pounds each day.  The grind continued on Saturday, as just 11 of the 50 remaining anglers cracked the 10-pound mark.

Despite bringing just four  bass to the scales each of the first two days, Oklahoma’s Tommy Biffle took the lead heading into championship Sunday with a limit on Saturday weighing 10-6 to push his three day total weight to 33-9.  Biffle will enter the final day as the only angler to cross the stage each of the first three days with at least 10-pounds.  

After finishing inside the top 50 in each of the first three Elite Series tournaments this season, Mississippi’s Pete Ponds is in line to record the best Elite Series finish of his career since finishing in 3rd place on Clarks Hill in 2007.   With a limit weighing 11-5 on Saturday to boost his total weight to 33-pounds, Ponds sits in 2nd place, just 9-ounces behind Biffle.  

Day two leader, Aaron Martens, slipped to 3rd place on Saturday after weighing-in his lightest limit of the week at 7-12 for a total weight of 32-10. 

The biggest move on Saturday belonged to Todd Faircloth, who solved the West Point riddle to the tune of 15-9, easily the biggest limit of the day.  Faircloth jumped up to 4th place with a total weight of 32-1.  

The LaGrange, Georgia forecast calls for intermittent rain showers overnight with temperatures dipping into the low 40s and partly sunny skies for the first half of Sunday before cloud cover once again moves in during the afternoon hours.  

The 5 Day Two Facts from West Point Lake:
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (May 2-5)
Location:  West Point Lake – LaGrange, Georgia 
Leader/weight:  Tommy Biffle (12-10, 10-9, 10-6: 33-9)
2nd place weight: Pete Ponds (33-0)
Total weight separating 1st place from 12th place:  4-1

1st Place: Tommy Biffle (12-10, 10-9, 10-6: 33-9)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“My area looked about the same, but it may be a lot muddier tomorrow.  I knew that I just needed to go and fish, but I also knew that I couldn’t run the same places twice.  I planned on fishing three or four new places, and that’s what I did.”  

Tommy BiffleHow would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“I lost the first fish that bit today, and I was a little bit worried that I’d only end up with three fish because I’ve only been getting four bites a day.  Today I had six bites, so it was a little bit better day even though I didn’t have the same quality that I’ve been catching.  As tough as it is out there, I was just glad to have five.

“I kept telling the camera man that I wanted it to really storm so the pressure would change.  It happened, and I caught two shortly after (it started storming).  After that, I’d catch one every now and then.

“I had one spotted bass today, but it was a good spot that was bigger that the largemouth that I had.  I guess he just bit as an accident.  I didn’t change anything up at all from the last two days.  I didn’t see another boat all day.  

“I’m definitely fishing a pattern, and I’m sure that there are some spawning fish around the area because I caught a big one on the first day and another one from the same place on the second day on the exact same cast.  It’s so muddy that you can’t see them.  I’m not sure how much the water rose, but there was quite the current today.  They’ve been dropping it every day, but I didn’t look to see if they changed it from yesterday.   

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“There really wasn’t one.  I’m just grinding away and getting a bite every so often.  I guess the key for me today would be when I caught a limit that included that spotted bass that had no business being where I caught it.” 

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“The most challenging thing is just trying to get five bites because it’s really tough out there.”

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“I lost one good one today.  I hadn’t been fishing for 10 or 15 minutes and I hooked a 2 ½- to 3-pounder.  The bait got wadded up and the fish just came off. That’s the only fish that I’ve missed or lost all week long.

“I know what I’m going to do, so I’m just going to live by it.  You just don’t get enough bites to be changing things around.”

2nd Place: Pete Ponds (8-11, 13-0, 11-5: 33-0)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“After yesterday, I decided that I wouldn’t fish for spotted bass and that I’d key on the largemouth first thing. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, though.”

Pete Ponds How would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“There was one thing that keyed me in to a bite, and I’ve focused on that every day.  The rain affected me today as far as the bite goes and what I was doing, and I didn’t catch but two fish on that bait today. 

“I started out largemouth fishing until about 11:00 today before I threw up the white flag.  I had two largemouth and I went out and caught a 2-pound spotted bass.  I found a drain on the first day of practice, and when it started raining hard today that drain really developed into something good.  I went over to the drain and I caught two more largemouth. 

“The rain actually helped the water flow through the area that I had found during prefishing.  We had a really big rain on Sunday and the water level went up on Monday of practice, which made that drain produce.  I feel like the same thing is happening now, so I feel pretty good about that pattern in the morning because they have all night to get on it.

“I plan to start there in the morning, and if I catch them I’ll probably stay on it most of the day.  If I don’t, then I’ll move off of it.” 

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“I was really fortunate today because a local was up there by (the drain), but he hadn’t fished the area yet.  He actually moved off of the area and let me get in there on it.  I really want to thank the locals, because if he hadn’t done that, he could have very well controlled my destiny.

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“I actually had to hand line one of my fish in the boat today.  I was in a really tight situation and when I went to set the hook, there was a limb over my head that I hit with my rod.  At the exact same time, I mashed the button on my reel and it created a bird’s nest to where I couldn’t even reel in.  I dropped the rod and reel, grabbed the end of the line, and hand lined my fifth keeper in the boat about 30 feet.   It was probably about a 2 1/2 –pounder.”

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“I knew that my secondary spot could really play today because of the rain.  I waited until around noon today to make the decision to go there because I figured that it would produce more the longer that I waited.  I was just hoping that nobody else had found it.” 

3rd Place: Aaron Martens (13-5, 11-9, 7-12: 32-10)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“I didn’t have any largemouth left, and the water temperature dropped almost 10 degrees so I knew that it would be tough.  I fished probably five or six of my waypoints where I thought there might be some fish still, but I never got any bites.” 

How would you summarize your day as a whole? 
“I started off the morning by losing a giant spotted bass that was around 3-pounds.  There was no current and the fish were just scattered and moved around, so I tried to fish way too fast today.  I think that if I had slowed way down like a snail instead of a roadrunner, I would have caught 9- to 11-pounds today, which would have been really good.

“I caught at least a dozen keepers that were all spotted bass.  I fished for largemouth for three or four hours today and I never caught one.  They’re really hard right now.  I caught a 25-pound striper this morning, and he was big enough to eat a lot of my bass.  His belly was really big and I’m sure that he had some spotted bass in his stomach. 

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
“I lost that big spotted bass early and I also bounced one off the windshield of my boat early today that would have been about a 12-ounce cull.  The fish aren’t eating the bait well.  They’re just smacking it and getting hooked on the outside of the mouth. In a tournament like this, a 12-ounce cull could end up being huge.”    

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
“I have been catching them on moving baits the whole time and it was just really hard to slow down.  With the conditions, you’d think that you’d still be able to catch them on moving baits, but you had to fish really slow to catch the fish that I was fishing for.  You couldn’t even hop the bait.” 

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“The only thing that I didn’t do is slow down, but I hit a lot of new spots today that I had saved.  The fish just weren’t biting and they were hard to catch.  I really wish that I had slowed down more today, because that was my biggest problem.” 

4th Place: Todd Faircloth (7-12, 8-12, 15-9: 32-1)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
"I was hoping that I could make a push and get myself into the top 20.  Obviously things went a little better than I thought they could, and I was able to make it to the top 12 and fish on Sunday."

Todd FairclothHow would you summarize your day as a whole?
"I started out the day fishing for spots and didn't catch anything at all.  Finally I asked myself what I was doing and just dedicated the rest of my day to largemouth fishing.  I only got six bites, so I am by no means smoking them out there. I just happened to get some of the right bites today and was fortunate enough to put them all in the boat."

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
"The key moment for me was making that decision this morning to switch up what I was doing and go fishing for largemouth.  I caught one on my second stop, so that let me know that I was doing the right thing."

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
"The most challenging aspect of the day was just trying to stay focused out there in that rain today.  You know it is crucial in miserable conditions to keep the mental aspect of your game as sharp as you can because it is easy to get distracted. "

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
"I was really pleased with my decision making today.  I fished all new water today, and was happy with how things turned out.  I really don't see the point in fishing stuff you haven't had success on during the event even if you caught them there in practice, so that's how I approached today."

5th Place: Chris Zaldain  (8-12, 12-12, 10-7: 31-15)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
"I knew that the weather would change my bite today.  Not only were we dealing with 100% chance of rain today, but we also had no wind and a straight downpour.  I didn't think it would affect the spotted bass bite, but had a feeling it would the largemouth bite."

Chris ZaldainHow would you summarize your day as a whole?
"I ended up catching around 16 to 18 fish today. It was just a really slow and grueling day out there, and I had to slow way down to get my bites.  My spot to largemouth ratio was probably 4 to 1 today, and I only ended up weighing in 10-7."

Was there a key moment for you during the day?
"It was late in the day and I had like ten minutes left to go and I made a run down towards the dam in the pouring rain.  I ended up catching my biggest fish right before I had to come in, so that was definitely the key moment of my day."

What was the most challenging/surprising aspect of your day?
"The most challenging aspect of my day was the presentation I was having to use to get bites.  I was having to let my bait fall 6 to 8 feet, so having the patience to do that was a challenge.  Also, wanting to run and having all of that rain holding you back was difficult as well. "

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
"I was very satisfied with my decision making today.  Staying put in my area and having the confidence to slow down and know that the fish lived there was crucial to my day."

A full story will be posted later this evening.

DAY THREE STANDINGS

Place PRO ANGLER Day 1Day 2Day 3 Total Fish Total Weight
FishWeightFishWeightFishWeight
1 Tommy Biffle 4 12-10 4 10- 9 5 10- 6 13 33- 9
2 Pete Ponds 5 8-11 5 13- 0 5 11- 5 15 33- 0
3 Aaron Martens 5 13- 5 5 11- 9 5 7-12 15 32-10
4 Todd Faircloth 5 7-12 5 8-12 5 15- 9 15 32- 1
5 Chris Zaldain 5 8-12 5 12-12 5 10- 7 15 31-15
6 Casey Ashley 5 8-15 5 13- 8 5 9- 5 15 31-12
7 Skeet Reese 5 13- 0 5 9-10 5 8- 8 15 31- 2
8 Hank Cherry 5 12- 4 5 8-12 5 9- 6 15 30- 6
9 Rick Clunn 5 7-11 5 14- 0 4 8- 7 14 30- 2
10 Greg Vinson 5 15-10 5 9- 3 5 5- 2 15 29-15
11 Cliff Crochet 3 10-13 3 9-10 4 9- 8 10 29-15
12 Cliff Pace 5 14- 2 5 7- 4 5 8- 2 15 29- 8
13 Andy Montgomery 5 10- 7 5 10- 2 5 8-13 15 29- 6
14 Keith Combs 5 15-14 5 7- 4 5 6- 2 15 29- 4
15 Davy Hite 5 9- 9 5 11-11 5 7- 5 15 28- 9
16 Fletcher Shryock 5 5- 8 5 13- 5 5 9- 5 15 28- 2
17 Alton Jones 4 4-12 5 11-11 5 11-10 14 28- 1
18 Kenyon Hill 5 7- 1 5 9- 6 5 11- 5 15 27-12
19 Yusuke Miyazaki 2 4- 1 5 10- 8 5 13- 1 12 27-10
20 Mark Davis 5 9-12 5 9- 5 5 8- 4 15 27- 5
21 Nate Wellman 5 8- 0 5 7- 1 5 12- 3 15 27- 4
22 Dean Rojas 5 10- 4 5 11-10 5 5- 6 15 27- 4
23 Scott Rook 5 7-15 5 7- 1 5 12- 3 15 27- 3
24 Brandon Palaniuk 5 11- 5 5 10- 0 3 5-14 13 27- 3
25 Rick Morris 5 7-13 5 9- 8 5 9- 7 15 26-12
26 Ott DeFoe 3 4- 6 5 11- 6 5 10-14 13 26-10
27 Kevin VanDam 5 8- 3 5 11- 5 5 6-12 15 26- 4
28 Gerald Swindle 4 6- 3 5 8-11 5 10-13 14 25-11
29 Timmy Horton 5 7- 7 4 8-15 4 9- 4 13 25-10
30 Edwin Evers 5 7-12 5 14- 6 2 3- 6 12 25- 8
31 Bill Lowen 5 6- 9 5 11- 7 3 7- 7 13 25- 7
32 Cliff Pirch 5 6- 7 5 10- 8 5 8- 3 15 25- 2
33 John Crews 4 10- 6 5 7-11 3 7- 0 12 25- 1
34 Marty Robinson 5 12-10 5 7-15 4 4- 5 14 24-14
35 Britt Myers 5 6- 6 5 11- 2 5 6-12 15 24- 4
36 Ishama Monroe 5 9- 4 5 7- 8 5 7- 7 15 24- 3
37 Gary Klein 5 8- 7 5 8-12 5 6-12 15 23-15
38 Jami Fralick 5 8-14 5 8-12 5 5-15 15 23- 9
39 Kevin Short 4 7- 4 5 9- 6 5 6- 7 14 23- 1
40 Fred Roumbanis 5 8-10 5 7- 5 5 7- 2 15 23- 1
41 Brian Snowden 5 8-11 5 7-15 3 5-15 13 22- 9
42 Matt Reed 5 7- 9 5 7- 6 5 7- 3 15 22- 2
43 Chris Lane 5 7-14 5 6- 6 5 7-13 15 22- 1
44 Takahiro Omori 5 9-11 2 8-14 2 3- 1 9 21-10
45 Kelly Jordon 4 5-13 5 8- 6 5 6-14 14 21- 1
46 Michael Iaconelli 5 8- 1 5 7- 3 5 5- 1 15 20- 5
47 Clark Reehm 5 7-11 5 6-10 5 5-10 15 19-15
48 Mike McClelland 5 7- 4 5 7- 9 4 4-13 14 19-10
49 Kurt Dove 5 7-12 5 8- 2 3 3- 4 13 19- 2
50 Scott Ashmore 5 6- 7 5 8- 3 2 3- 1 12 17-11