2:30 We’re calling it a day on the blog
Shane LeHew has made a few small culls, and Bryan Thrift has a school of dinks going, but that’s about it. Everywhere else, guys are either running or not catching. There’s some time left, so it isn’t over, but we’re certainly getting down to the wire. With that, we’re closing the blog down for the day. We might have some movement before weigh-in, but it’s going to be exciting. John Cox needs a big one to get back on top, and there have been some hawgs caught today for sure.
Be sure to check back to flwfishing.com or to come on out. The final weigh-in starts at 4 p.m. ET.
2:10 Cox is headed to his stuff in Dora
John Cox has booked it back into Dora and is looking again for a big one. We’ll see. The weather has finally arrived as well – it’s now starting to rain just a bit in places and the wind is picking up slightly.
1:50 Cox is headed back, Whitson is making money
Pretty much everyone is headed back toward Harris and weigh-in now. John Cox has left the Apopka canal without catching anything more – he’s not ruling out a stop on the way back, but it looks like his day is about done.
Over in Griffin, Chris Whitson has culled again, this time with a 5-pounder. Unfortunately, he’s got a 2-pound penalty on his day because earlier he made a cast before culling. In all, he’s got close to 20 pounds and will certainly move up. He’s also still in Griffin, which is cutting it pretty close.
1:34 Cox makes a slight cull
John Cox just picked up a little one that culled an ever littler one out of his bag. He needs big ones, not little ones. Luckily, he has a 5-pounder in his sights, but it's not proving very cooperative thus far.
1:30 Whitson and Reed catch bigguns
In the span of about 5 minutes both Matt Reed and Chris Whitson have caught big ones. Reed stuck a 5-pounder to cull up to about 13 pounds over in Eustis. In Griffin, Whitson caught a 7-pounder that give his 16 pounds or better. Neither are threatening for a win yet, but you never know what the next cast in Florida will bring.
1:15 Matt Reed culls
Matt Reed has managed to cull again, but it’s like his usual culls today. Just another tiny fish. Reed has improved every day, but he’s got work to do to maintain that pace today.
1:10 The Griffin crew is getting ready to scoot
Bryan Thrift has left Lake Griffin and Aaron Britt is headed that way as well. There’s about 2 hours and 30 minutes of fishing time left, so making the move back into Harris or Eustis isn’t the worst call, especially because both have had decent, but unspectacular days.
12:57 They gone
The 6-pounder John Cox was looking at has disappeared. He’s still poking around the area to see if he can find her or another again.
Just for the record, Cox probably needs to improve his limit by about 5 pounds to get even with Bradley Dortch.
12:44 Cox limits
He caught her. John Cox now has a limit after boxing up a 2+ fry guarder. He says there’s a 6-pounder on a bed near it, so stay tuned.
12:38 Poles down for Cox
John Cox just put his Power-Poles down on a bed. He’s got the whacky rig out and is actively fishing for his fifth. We’ll see how it goes.
12:35 Looking off the leaders
Aside from the unofficial top three, the fishing has been pretty good. Though some, like Matt Reed and Rusty Trancygier don’t have any size, there are some pretty good limits going. In particular, Aaron Britt and Bryan Thrift are both in the low teens now.
12:30 Welcome back!
Hey folks, welcome back from FLW Live! It’s been a fun morning, but we’re still expecting more action in the afternoon. JT Kenney is smashing giants on the regular, Bradley Dortch has the lead and a few hawgs and it’d be foolish to count out John Cox. When it happens, you’ll hear about it right here.
12:20 Cox still hasn’t seen what he needs
John Cox is moving fast down in the canals near the Apopka lock, but he isn’t catching. He’s making a cast or two, but most of it is just looking. FLW Live ends at 12:30 p.m., and it looks that by the time the show is over Cox will still be stuck on four bass. Of course, he’s probably passing up a few keeper bass that he could catch in favor of looking for an actual kicker.
Bradley Dortch had been silent for a long time, but he just caught another keeper. That said, it wasn’t enough to cull anything. But, they may be starting to bite again for him.
12:05 JT Kenney has it going on
"I've won a handful of national derbies in Florida and I've never done it looking at ‘em,” is what JT Kenney said back on day one. Still fishing off the ends of points in Griffin, Kenney made another big move forward with a fish that might be about 7 pounds. His total is now up around 27 pounds, and he’s just a few pounds behind Bradley Dortch.
11:53 Cox is headed toward Apopka
John Cox has headed down toward the canal between Beauclair and Apopka. He’s likely not going to go through the lock, but he’s caught a lot of his weight in the canals around and off to the sides of there. He also left a pair of 3-pounders on beds in there on day three – he may be headed back to those.
11:45 Rooster update
Shane LeHew has culled again, but it’s still another move by ounces. There’s also a rooster crowing a lot near him that is annoying the heck out of our reporter.
11:40 Limits galore
Everyone in the field besides John Cox has a limit now. Rusty Trancygier was the last to do it, but the only guys really catching quality are Kenney, Thrift, Cox and Dortch. The live weight estimates tell the tale, and those are the only anglers who have surpassed the 65-pound mark.
11:28 The first misstep
Bradley Dortch just had his first misfortune of the day. He hooked up with a quality fish in the pads and quickly lost it. No word on exactly how big it was, but if it was a big bass, it could have been enough to ice a win for him.
11:20 Not a big move
Turns out John Cox didn’t move much after all. After a quick spin around his starting place he’s headed back into the spot in Dora where he’s seen so many big ones today.
Down in Harris, Shane LeHew has caught six fish on six casts, but the only one that culled was a change for just ounces.
11:10 Cox moves
John Cox has moved again, leaving the area with so many uncatchable big ones. He made a quick stop at his starting area, and has now headed off again with our camera crew hot on his tail.
10:53 Dortch makes a move
Bradley Dortch has finally pulled up the stakes on his starting area of hydrilla. Now, he’s headed to the pads where he lost and landed a monster on day three. So far everything has worked out perfectly for him, will this move payoff as well?
10:48 Kenney lands a 4-pounder
JT Kenney is working on a bag and a half. He doesn’t necessarily have any super-sized bass like Dortch, but he just added a 4-pounder to the mix. That puts him up to 22 pounds or more now. He’s currently in second, a few ounces ahead of John Cox.
10:40 Cox catches his fourth
John Cox has four now, having poled down and plucked a 2-pounder off a bed with a whacky rig. He’s still around a lot of big ones, but hasn’t converted on one of them … yet.
10:30 Dortch culls, Whitson is improving
Bradley Dortch has culled again, improving by a few ounces. He’s also moved about 100 yards from is starting spot. As we know, ounces is money in this game.
Chris Whitson is having yet another good day. He’s culled his way up to about 12 pounds now over in Griffin. Also, Bryan Thrift just caught his fourth keeper of the day, a solid 3-pounder.
10:17 Cox has found some fish
John Cox says there are 5-pounders all over in a little section of Dora he’s gotten into. There’s clear water and pads and it looks gorgeous. So far, he’s not catching them, but some are cruising and some are on beds, so it may be a tough task. That said, he’s definitely found the fish that could put him back ahead of Dortch.
10:13 LeHew has 10 pounds, Kenney’s tactics
Shane LeHew has made a small cull again and is up to about 10 pounds. He’s calling himself “slab daddy” this morning because he’s catching so many crappie in between bass.
JT Kenney is working on a really strong bag. If Bradley Dortch hadn’t started the day ahead of him we’d be talking about Kenney threatening for a win. In Griffin, the Florida pro is fishing a lipless crankbait (mostly) off the bank near a point. He says he has 21 pounds and might be “Bryan Thrifting” his estimate.
9:55 Cox found something
After trolling around for a while, John Cox has put his poles down and got down on his knees again. Looks like he might be set up on another good bedding fish.
9:42 Weaver adds, LeHew culls
Josh Weaver just caught his third bass of the day, a decent 1-pounder. He caught it on a vibrating jig. Shane LeHew is still catching them pretty good, ranging pretty far offshore from his pads. He just made a slight cull, tossing back a 1-pounder in favor of a 2-pounder.
9:35 JTK is cooking
JT Kenney switched things up today. He’s gone over to Lake Griffin, and so far we think he has about 20 pounds. He’s fishing offshore a little on a point and is really catching them. We'll do our best to get a more accurate read in a bit.
9:25 LeHew gets going a little, Cox adds a small one
Shane LeHew Just filled out his limit with a 3-pounder and then culled with a 2-pounder. Over in Dora, Cox has added a small keeper on a Speed Worm to his limit.
Josh Weaver has added a 3-pounder to his day’s work now as well. So, he’s got about 5 pounds for two bass.
9:14 Cox and Thrift
John has landed a 2-pounder for his second fish. Over in Griffin, Bryan Thrift is fishing shallow and has caught a 4-pounder and a small keeper to get three fish under his belt.
9:00 Dortch culls
Bradley Dortch just culled up with a 3-pounder caught on his worm. Now he’s up well over 20 pounds. It’s on.
8:57 Cox update
John Cox caught that 6-pounder early, and he’s now poled down right in the same place, fishing for a 2-pound male that was on the bed with it.
8:55 People other than Dortch
It might not seem like it, but there are folks other than Bradley Dortch catching fish. So far, Matt Reed and Shane LeHew have both rustled up four small ones. Chris Whitson has two now, and Rusty Trancygier has a pair of keepers as well.
“I don’t know what I got, but I know they better catch them today,” says Bradley Dortch.
Bradley Dortch just caught another big one. Like, another 7-pounder or so. He caught it dragging a worm through some of the same grass he was throwing a lipless. Currently, we believe Dortch has about 19 pounds in the livewell.
Also, Shane LeHew has got on a little school now. He’s got four in the box, but they are all small.
8:30 Cox strikes
We’ve had a few other fish catches in a recent flurry, but the big one goes to John Cox. After breaking off a big one, he flipped right back in and caught the same fish. The hook was still in it’s mouth and it’s a 6-pounder. So, if Bradley Dortch was hoping to have an easy time of it then he’s sorely mistaken.
8:20 So, what’s the deal with Dortch?
Bradley Dortch is the story of the day so far without a doubt. Today, he says the fish are setting up more on the outside of the hydrilla he’s ‘trapping, and that seems to be helping him a lot. On day three, he says they were shallower and more buried in it. We’ll see if it continues, or if he turns to the pads later like he did on day three.
Dortch is a rookie on Tour this year, but that doesn’t mean he’s green. In 2016, Dortch had a stretch where he finished in the top five in two Costa FLW Series events (winning on Wheeler Lake) and a B.A.S.S. Open within about a month.
8:14 Guys are freelancing today
It seems like a few pros have decided to scrap what got them to the final day and go hunting. Instead of doing the Harris thing, JT Kenney has run over to Griffin to give that a go. As for Bryan Thrift, he’s actually not headed to Griffin – at least not yet – he’s now fishing in Eustis.
8:08 It’s Dortch’s day
Bradley Dortch is on fire. His fourth fish of the day is a 3-pounder. He’s now got about 12 pounds in the boat for four fish. Also, he’s done it all in under an hour.
While Dortch is streaking out in front, John Cox is heading into a residential canal in Dora. It’s time for him to start looking a little.
8:00 Reed boats one, Dortch is cool as a cucumber
Matt Reed just popped his first of the day, a decent 1-pounder to start.
One thing to note about Bradley Dortch is that he’s fishing pretty chill today. He lost a pile of fish on day three – today he’s getting them in the boat.
Also, Josh Weaver has his first now, a 1-pounder.
7:55 Dortch has another, movement around the field
Bradley Dortch has caught a third keeper on his lipless now. It’s also not very big.
Elsewhere, Bryan Thrift has picked up and is headed to Griffin. John Cox has now made it through into Dora and started fishing some offshore grass with a spinnerbait. Over in Eustis, Matt Reed is posted up about 100 yards offshore with a Carolina rig, but he hasn’t caught anything yet.
7:41 Dortch makes it two
Bradley Dortch’s second keeper is about a seventh the size of his first. But, a keeper is a keeper, and he seems to be on some biting fish for sure.
Shane LeHew also has his first keeper of the day, but it’s not of any great consequence. That said, he caught it on a walking topwater, so that's fun regardless.
7:39 Dortch goes big early
Bradley Dortch just caught a 7-pounder. He caught her on a lipless at the same place he lost a couple big bites on day one. She was snagged in the back, but that’s a legal fish because he wasn’t sight-fishing. It’s very early, but that one fish has vaulted him into the lead.
Meanwhile, John Cox has headed into the Dora Canal, and Aaron Britt has boxed up a small keeper.
7:30 Britt and Thrift start on retreads
Aaron Britt and Bryan Thrift have both started right near takeoff hoping to cash in on a release fish or two. It’s still pretty dark out there, and pros are fishing with their lights on, but otherwise it’s a beautiful morning on the water. Shane LeHew has made it down to his area in Little Harris as well, but so far nobody has caught a bass.
7:15 Can Cox hold on one more day?
Heading into day three of the FLW Tour presented by Ranger on the Harris Chain, it looks like John Cox was on cruise control. The Florida pro was seemingly finding and catching quality bedding bass at will, and the rest of the field was struggling to keep up. That all changed yesterday, when Cox caught only five keepers all day and barely put together a 10-pound limit. Behind him, almost everyone caught ‘em, and heading into the final day there are four other pros within five pounds of Cox – in Florida, that could be just half a bite.
The weather today is the big change-up from the earlier days. The first three have been clear and sunny with a little wind. Today, clouds are almost a sure thing, and we might end up with some rain and wind later in the day. That’s likely to make sight-fishing a little more difficult, especially on the finding side of the equation. The weather could affect the other patterns as well – plenty of pros have plied moving baits and that bite could fire up with some warm and cloudy conditions.
Whatever happens, it’s likely to be an exciting final day. FLW Live starts at 8:30, which will be even closer to takeoff than usual (the time change has us launching about 15 minutes later), and it really is anyone’s game today. We’ve got exciting rookies like Aaron Britt and Bradley Dortch gunning for the win and wily veterans like Bryan Thrift and John Cox who know how to win as well as anyone in the game.
Temperature at takeoff: 66 degrees
Forecast high: 7 degrees
Sky: mostly cloudy
Precipitation: 40 percent chance of rain, mostly in the afternoon
Wind: light and variable, increasing in the afternoon
Folgers Morning Takeoff: 7 a.m. ET at Ski Beach Park, Lake Harris Drive, Leesburg, Fla.
Weigh-in: 4 p.m. ET at Ski Beach Park.
FLW Expo: 12 to 4 p.m. ET at Ski Beach Park
FLW Live: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. ET