DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

FAIRCLOTH MAINTAINS HIS LEAD ON THE MISSISSIPPI

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 06/23/2012
Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush and Matt Pangrac
 

La Crosse, WI – Even though his day three limit weighing 14-13 was over three pounds lighter than his impressive 17-14 limit on Friday, Todd Faircloth only lost five ounces from the slim 12 ounce lead that he held after the first two rounds of competition at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. 

With a total weight of 47-11, the Texas pro will enter the final day of the Mississippi River Rumble with a seven ounce lead over Alabama’s Aaron Martens, who jumped from fourth place to second place with the heaviest limit of the day on Saturday weighing 16-2. 

“I caught a bunch of fish today; I just didn’t catch that big one like I’ve been catching the first couple of days.  It got a little frustrating because I kept catching the same size fish.  They kind of changed on me today,” said Faircloth.  “Yesterday, I caught quite a few of my good fish punching a big weight in the mats.  Today, that deal just didn’t pan out for me.” 

Todd FairclothRelying on two primary spots, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, Faircloth said the he got off to a fast start on Saturday.  “It was ‘lights out’ for a while.  I was catching the snot out of them,” he explained. 

On Friday, Faircloth expressed concern that the water level had dropped slightly in his starting location, which featured shallow water.  He said that when he arrived on Saturday, the water had risen four inches overnight.  “I really think that helped the spot today because it’s a really shallow deal.”

While Faircloth said that he didn’t mind the cloudy conditions on Saturday, he’s hoping for sunny skies by Sunday afternoon.  “I’d like for it to be cloudy for the first couple of hours, and then I’d like for it to get bright and sunny.  The sun positions the fish so I can pinpoint where they will be holding.  In those big expansive flats, you have to get dialed in to a target.  You can’t just cast anywhere and catch a fish.” 

Faircloth already has two Elite Series titles under his belt, the first coming in 2006 on Table Rock Lake and the second coming on Lake Amistad in 2008.  Since he last hoisted the hardware, Faircloth has recorded seven top 10 finishes in Elite Series regular season competition, including a second place finish earlier this season on the St. Johns River.  He enters Sunday in prime position to join an exclusive group of Elite Series pros with three blue trophies on their mantles.     

“I feel like I’m around the winning fish.  As a competitor, we all want to win and come in first place.  To beat these guys, everything has to fall into place and go exactly as planned.  Hopefully it’s my turn.” 

With his success this week on the River, Faircloth has moved into 2nd place in the Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year standings - just 18 points behind current leader Brent Chapman.  “I can’t say that I’m not thinking about that, but tomorrow, I’m going to be thinking about winning this tournament.  I’m not thinking about the Angler Of the Year deal.”

2nd Place: Aaron Martens (16-2, 47-4)
Like Faircloth, Aaron Martens has also lifted two Elite Series trophies over his head and has developed the uncanny ability to routinely put himself in position to win on championship Sunday.  Since his last Elite Series victory on Lake Guntersville in 2009, Martens has recorded five top 10 regular season finishes.

This week on the Mississippi River, Martens has hinted that he’s doing something drastically different than the rest of the field, and it has been paying off in a big way.  On Saturday, he brought in a limit weighing 16-2 to boost his three day total weight to 47-4. 

Aaron MartensKeying on one main area, Martens said that his area has changed each day of the competition.  “The water has come up maybe a foot and a half since the tournament started,” he explained.  “It has definitely changed a lot.  The water has come up and gotten dirtier and everything is moving around.”

On Saturday, his day got off to a slow start, but a late flurry saved his day.  “I figured some stuff out towards the end of the day,” he said. “I really don’t want to say that much, because I have a lot of spectator boats around me.  I just don’t want people to know what I’m doing yet.” 

Martens said that all of his fish this week have been chunks, and that has given him a few additional ounces.  “A lot of the guys are catching skinny fish, but all of mine are really thick.  They remind me of California Delta bass,” he said.  “They’re like footballs.” 

Cagy about revealing the details of his pattern, Martens said that Sunday should be an interesting day on the Mississippi River.  “I’m not fishing grass,” he divulged.  “I’ll shock a lot of people if I win it doing what I’m doing.  I’m excited, but I’m trying not to think about it that much.”

3rd Place: Terry Butcher (14-10, 46-12)
After moving up to 2nd place on Friday, Oklahoma’s Terry Butcher wasn’t shy about expressing how comfortable he felt fishing the shallow water of the Mississippi River.  On Saturday, the noted power fisherman stumbled a bit, bringing in his lightest limit of the week weighing 14-10.  As a result, he dropped to 3rd place with a total weight of 46-12 but sits less than a pound out of the lead with one day remaining. 

Terry Butcher

“I didn’t catch as many fish as I did yesterday, but I caught fish all day long,” said Butcher.  “I caught quality fish, but they were all the same size.  I don’t think that I had a single three pounder.”  As one of the only anglers in the top 12 locking out of pool eight, Butcher said that he spent the entire day fishing one key area. 

“I beat on them pretty hard trying to get a bigger one,” he said.  “I think that there are still a lot of fish there, but I just need that one big bite.  I felt like I needed to quit jacking on them, but I knew that I needed to keep catching them to stay in the hunt.  If you’re more than three or four pounds behind in this tournament, your chances aren’t very good.” 

Butcher said that on Sunday, he’ll have three rods on the front deck of his boat.  “I’m committed to locking through tomorrow,” he stated.  “I didn’t even practice in this pool so I’m definitely locking again.”   

4th Place: Dean Rojas (15-8, 45-7)
In a tournament where the majority of the field has excelled by fishing for aggressive river bass in shallow grass, it’s not surprising to see Arizona’s Dean Rojas contending for the lead this week on the Mississippi River. 

The frog fishing expert, who has recorded both of his Elite Series wins by targeting shallow water on grass laden fisheries, brought his heaviest limit of the week to the scales on Saturday weighing 15-8 to move into 4th place with a total weight of 45-7.  He will enter the final day of competition trailing leader Todd Faircloth by less than three pounds. 

Dean Rojas

The surprising fact, however, is that Rojas explained that he hasn’t been targeting the “typical” stuff this week on the Mississippi.  “The area I’ve got is totally different from what everyone else is fishing,” he stated. 

After managing his primary water for the first two days, Rojas said that he dedicated the majority of his day on Saturday fishing his best water in an attempt to stay at the top of the leader board.  “I leaned on the area pretty hard today,” he explained.  “Yesterday, I caught what I could catch and I got out of there. I actually think that the area can reload.  When they’re hungry, they move in and I catch them.”

Rojas believes that the way his area is positioned on the river could possibly give him an advantage on championship Sunday, when crowds of spectator boats are expected to be on the water.  “The spectators won’t affect me at all because of the way my area is laid out.  Some of the other guys who are fishing the big flats might be affected.”  

5th Place:  Jamie Horton (13-12, 45-6)
On Friday, Jamie Horton said that he was virtually able to call his shots on his way to the tournament’s heaviest limit weighing 18-4.  Entering the day in 3rd place, the Alabama rookie added another 13-12 on Saturday to boost his total weight to 45-6.  

Jamie Horton

“I think the cloud cover hut me today,” he said.  “I just wasn’t able to find where the bigger ones were sitting.”  Returning to the area where he caught his two biggest fish on Friday, Horton said that he made a tactical error.  “I stayed in there a little too long.  Around 10:30, I ran to the area where I started the first two mornings and caught a quick limit. I’ll probably start in there tomorrow and see if I can’t get 13 or 14 pounds before going to hunt for a big one.” 

Horton explained that the cloud cover also hurt his bite.  “They don’t bite really well for the first couple of hours – it takes a little sun.  I was worried about the clouds all day.”  On the upside, Horton said that his primary area, three small points in Minnesota, has been reloading with fish each day.

“Tomorrow is the fourth quarter,” he concluded.  “Maybe tomorrow I can go out and catch the majority of my bites and finish strong.  This thing is going to come down to whoever catches a five pounder tomorrow.  Anybody in the top 12 has a chance to win.” 

DAY THREE STANDINGS
PlaceANGLERDay 1Day 2Day 3Total FishTotal Weight
FishWeightFishWeightFishWeight
1 Todd Faircloth 5 15- 0 5 17-14 5 14-13 15 47-11
2 Aaron Martens 5 16- 5 5 14-13 5 16- 2 15 47- 4
3 Terry Butcher 5 15- 5 5 16-13 5 14-10 15 46-12
4 Dean Rojas 5 14-12 5 15- 3 5 15- 8 15 45- 7
5 Jamie Horton 5 13- 6 5 18- 4 5 13-12 15 45- 6
6 Cliff Pace 5 14-12 5 16- 3 5 14- 0 15 44-15
7 Cliff Prince 5 13-10 5 16- 8 5 14- 9 15 44-11
8 Rick Clunn 5 15- 5 5 15-13 5 13- 3 15 44- 5
9 Terry Scroggins 5 14-15 5 13-12 5 15- 2 15 43-13
10 Randy Howell 5 13-11 5 15- 3 5 14- 3 15 43- 1
11 Bill Lowen 5 13-14 5 14- 1 5 14-10 15 42- 9
12 Stephen Kennedy 5 13-13 5 15- 2 5 12-13 15 41-12
13 Kevin VanDam 5 13- 7 5 13- 8 5 14-13 15 41-12
14 Jason Quinn 5 12-11 5 13- 2 5 15- 9 15 41- 6
15 Greg Hackney 5 15-10 5 13- 6 5 12- 4 15 41- 4
16 Nate Wellman 5 13-14 5 14- 8 5 12-10 15 41- 0
17 John Crews 5 13-11 5 12-14 5 14- 4 15 40-13
18 Mike McClelland 5 12-12 5 15-11 5 12- 5 15 40-12
19 Takahiro Omori 5 14- 6 5 12- 9 5 13-13 15 40-12
20 Timmy Horton 5 13- 8 5 13-15 5 13- 1 15 40- 8
21 Bobby Lane 5 13- 0 5 14- 6 5 13- 0 15 40- 6
22 Brent Chapman 5 14- 3 5 12-11 5 13- 7 15 40- 5
23 Matthew Herren 5 13-14 5 13- 1 5 13- 1 15 40- 0
24 Davy Hite 5 13-13 5 12-15 5 13- 1 15 39-13
25 Greg Vinson 5 13- 6 5 13-13 5 12- 9 15 39-12
26 Grant Goldbeck 5 16- 0 5 10- 7 5 13- 2 15 39- 9
27 Ott DeFoe 5 14-11 5 12- 2 5 12-10 15 39- 7
28 Boyd Duckett 5 11- 2 5 15- 6 5 12-11 15 39- 3
29 Andy Montgomery 5 12- 8 5 14- 1 5 12- 8 15 39- 1
30 Russell Lane 5 12-12 5 14- 5 5 11-15 15 39- 0
31 Mark Menendez 5 14-14 5 11- 7 5 12- 5 15 38-10
32 Jason Williamson 5 13-15 5 11-12 5 12-13 15 38- 8
33 Gary Klein 5 13- 8 5 13-14 5 10-14 15 38- 4
34 Jared Miller 5 12-13 5 13- 5 5 12- 2 15 38- 4
35 Michael Iaconelli 5 13-12 5 12- 4 5 12- 0 15 38- 0
36 Skeet Reese 5 12-13 5 15-12 4 9- 4 14 37-13
37 Matt Reed 5 13- 2 5 12- 7 5 12- 1 15 37-10
38 Edwin Evers 5 12- 1 5 14- 4 5 11- 2 15 37- 7
39 Matt Greenblatt 5 12- 3 5 14- 1 5 10-14 15 37- 2
40 Jami Fralick 5 12-13 5 12-13 5 11- 8 15 37- 2
41 Dustin Wilks 5 14- 4 5 11- 4 5 11- 6 15 36-14
42 Stephen Browning 5 13- 9 5 12- 4 4 10-12 14 36- 9
43 Paul Elias 5 11- 0 5 14- 8 5 10- 3 15 35-11
44 Chris Lane 5 12- 6 5 16- 2 3 7- 1 13 35- 9
45 Kevin Short 5 12- 6 5 13- 3 5 9-10 15 35- 3
46 Kotaro Kiriyama 5 13- 4 5 14- 2 3 7- 2 13 34- 8
47 Michael Simonton 5 12- 0 5 14- 5 3 6-12 13 33- 1
48 Bernie Schultz 5 14-10 5 11-10 2 3- 8 12 29-12
49 Rick Morris 5 13- 8 5 13- 2 10 26-10