The final 10 anglers were ready to hit the water for their last shot at moving on in the 2017 General Tire Summit Cup from Grand Rapids, Minn.
Fishing Pokegama Lake, with almost 7,000 acres of fishable water, the pros were ready to see what Minnesota’s lakes had to offer them and if they could match the outstanding and record-breaking performance of Aaron Martens from Elimination Round 1.
The final 10 competitors vying for a spot in the sudden death rounds were Mike Iaconelli, Kevin VanDam, Boyd Duckett, Ish Monroe, Mike McClelland, Takahiro Omori, and Kevin Short and Ott Defoe from the Selects.
“They pretty much stacked the field in this one,” Hackney said. “You never get a cheat round in Major League Fishing.”
The anglers fishing in Elimination Round 3 had no idea how the anglers from Round 1 had performed, or that Martens had delivered a record-setting performance with his 88-pound catch.
Pokegama is rich with options for anglers, from underwater and above water vegetation and lily pads to rocky offshore cover and boat docks. Luckily for these anglers, the waters were also full of both large and smallmouth options.
Short was the first to land a fish, but his catch was quickly followed by Duckett, who quickly caught two fish off a bridge.
The weather, a bit clouded over early in the day, made many of the anglers have to reconsider exactly how they would change their strategy to catch fish.
Many fans watching were probably surprised to see that well into Period 1 Kevin VanDam remained the only angler without any catches. Many anglers struggled to figure out exactly what they were looking for.
“I know less now than when I started,” Hackney said.
The second half of Period 1, as the sun came up, all the anglers began catching fish more quickly, including a flurry that took KVD from last place quickly up into 5th with 45 minutes to go.
“It’s not been a very good day for me man,” VanDam said. “The smallmouth were following but they wouldn’t eat it. These are all largemouth.”
Many of the anglers also struggled with catching bass, rather than pike and perch in the lake.
During the period break, while some anglers tried to play mental games with one another, Monroe and Iaconelli pulled up next to each other to strategize and try to find a way to secure a spot for both of them in the Sudden Death rounds.
As anglers moved to Period 2, the confusion over smallmouth vs. largemouth continued on Pokegama Lake: different strategies left all the anglers still looking for that honey hole of smallmouth.
The constant pound-and-a-half catches kept the SCORETRACKER lit up and also made it difficult to keep track of who was in the lead or even the top four at any given time. With Defoe fishing the river while the other nine competitors fished in the lake, different strategies emerged as successful.
“I feel like I’m school bus fishing today—just pick one up here, pick one up there,” Hackney said.
Despite some cramping slowing him down at the end of Period 3, Iaconelli was able to take the day.
At the conclusion of the competition, it was Iaconelli, VanDam, Hackney and Defoe who made the cut, moving on to the Sudden Death Rounds.