2:10 That’s a wrap
The blog is done for the derby. Bryan Schmitt just ran his prime bank again for a 2-pounder that didn’t help, and the Pool 9 crowd had made it back into 8 and they’re hunting for something last-minute. It looks like Schmitt will be the man, but there’s still time left and Auten, Morgan or anyone else could strike it big in a jiffy to come from behind. Weigh-in should be fun – the weather is nicer than usual and there’s about a half dozen pros within a pound of each other in the unofficial standings.
Weigh-In Time: 4 p.m. CT on days three and four
Weigh-In Location: Veterans Freedom Park all days
1:47 Schmitt is going to run it again
Bryan Schmitt is getting ready to make one more pass through the area where he caught so many small ones and missed his biggest of the day. Swim jig in hand, he’ll try for one more kicker.
1:37 Atkins’ tactics
Justin Atkins is fishing a little different than most this week. While many pros are flipping for smallmouth or casting for largemouths, Atkins is flipping up green. He’s targeting grass and wood on the bank with a Beaver and it seems like a good way to get a little bit heaver average fish, though perhaps not the numbers that winding has produced for Schmitt and Auten.
1:15 Pool 9 is emptying out
We don’t have a bead on Matt Stefan, but everyone else is getting ready to ditch Pool 9. There’s a barge anchored at the lock now, and Larry Nixon, Austin Felix and Andy Morgan are all headed for it. It sure sounds like everyone is going to make it back without incident.
1:12 Weaver and Auten
Josh Weaver and Todd Auten both culled a bit ago. Weaver’s was for ounces, but Auten’s cull got him up to about 14 pounds. He’s unofficially in second place at the moment and has really put together an excellent day of fishing.
1:05 Morgan is ready to move
Andy Morgan has left his backwater and his now throwing a spinnerbait down below the lock at the top of Pool 9. He’s ready to make the move back into Pool 8 and get toward takeoff. Check-in isn’t until 3:15 p.m. CT, so he’ll have some time to fish once he gets back.
12:50 That’s probably game
Bryan Schmitt might be doing this thing. Mr. Potomac just landed a nice 3+ to cull to nearly 15 pounds. If Andy Morgan or someone else is going to run him down they’ll need a key bite or two here in the waning hours.
12:38 Nixon has had a day
Despite having to adjust, Larry Nixon has pulled off a great day on the water. He’s got 14+ of smallmouths he’s caught shallow in the boat now. Nixon has done what Stefan and Felix tried so hard to do – find a fresh and game-changing patch of bedding smallies.
12:22 Schmitt just caught a craw
Bryan Schmitt is a master when it comes to making small adjustments, and he just caught a bass on his swim jig that spit up a craw once he got her on deck. Schmitt often throws red-colored baits to imitate craws in the grass, so we may see that break out. He talked about that a little in a vibrating jig story we did with him a while back.
12:10 Schmitt culls again
Bryan Schmitt just made a slight cull – he seems to be back on that chunky type of largemouth that have keyed his limits all week. One real kicker and he could ice it, but ounces is money in this game.
12:00 More fish
David Dudley just filled out his limit with a smallmouth to get up into double digits. Down on Pool 9, Austin Felix and Larry Nixon both landed 2-ppunders for their fourth keeper.
Bryan Schmitt has moved a little to the inside of his grass line and is mixing between his swim jig and a shaky head. He says there is a pile of fish there, but they aren’t committing very well.
11:50 Atkins culls, Schmitt
Justin Atkins had a knack for quality on day three, but that’s eluded him for the most part today. Nonetheless, he just culled up by a smidge and then by nearly a pound. All told, he’s close to double digits.
Back on his main deal, Bryan Schmitt just lost a big one on a spinning rod. He thought he was hung and ended up shaking the fish off instead of putting it in the boat.
11:35 Auten, Schmitt
Todd Auten just culled again and is up to 12 pounds now. Bryan Schmitt is done roaming for the time being – he just headed back to his starting spot where he caught the majority of his weight.
11:30 About that boat…
Just in case you were wondering, Josh Weaver is fishing out of Cory Johnston’s boat today. He got back to weigh-in with Jeff Sprague on day three, and then had to go tow his boat in afterwards because of a battery issue. Regardless, it’s all working out pretty well for the young Georgia pro.
11:22 Morgan is prospecting, Felix fish
Limit in hand, Andy Morgan is testing the bounds of his area, getting back into cleaner and grassier water than before. It looks dynamite. But he’s yet to convert on the kicker or two he needs.
Austin Felix just landed his third fish of the day. Nothing big, but he’s steadily building toward a limit.
11:12 Schmitt is a winner
Bryan Schmitt just talked about how winning today could be “life changing,” and he’s right, winning a Tour event is never small potatoes. But, he’s already a winner – Schmitt is without a doubt the most successful of all time in Costa FLW Series competition in the tidal waters on the east coast. Between the Chesapeake Bay and the James and Potomac rivers, Schmitt has earned five wins. It’s not just tidal waters where Schmitt has a reputation as a hammer – get him around any kind of grass and he’ll probably do well too.
11:05 Auten culls, Schmitt stays
Todd Auten has just culled up a little bit with two more bass. He’s got about 11 pounds now. He’s been fishing in some pretty small and secluded backwaters this week with a swim jig and a vibrating jig and flipping a little as well.
Bryan Schmitt has been in a bit of a lull. He’s caught some small fish, but nothing that will cull up his fairly hefty limit.
10:55 Weaver culls
Josh Weaver’s area seems to be heating up a little bit. He just made another small cull. He’s been throwing a wobble head over the rocks a lot, as well as a wacky rig, and could really use one more 4-pound class bite.
10:48 Strader culls
Wesley Strader’s sixth keeper is close to 3 pounds and pushes his total over 12 pounds. He’s moved from seventh to fourth unofficially.
Tom Monsoor is out on the water on the final day. We all expected him to be fishing for a win today, but he’s on Pool 9 at the moment and cheering on Andy Morgan.
10:42 Weaver culls, Nixon
Josh Weaver just made a slight cull and revealed that we had his count wrong earlier. He’s actually had a limit for a while and just made two very small culls to add to it. It’s all been off the same current break, but he’s moving up and down it a little now.
Larry Nixon is doing the smallmouth flipping thing in Pool 9 and he just popped a nice one. Now he’s got three in the boat and is moving on up.
10:35 Weaver limits
Josh Weaver just wrapped up his limit with a decent keeper. He’s got about 12 pounds in the boat now.
10:30 Felix and Dudley
Austin Felix has two in the boat now, but neither are that big. David Dudley just boxed up his fourth, but one of them compare to his early 3-pounder.
10:28 Morgan’s limit fish
Andy Morgan’s limit fish was a 3-pounder. He’s got about 11 pounds and change now and is looking to start culling.
10:22 Stefan has four, Morgan and Atkins limit
Matt Stefan just got into service and he’s got three keepers in the boat for about 5 pounds. After reporting that, he picked up his fourth. He’s fishing a community rock dyke, which got a lot of pressure on days one and two from other competitors.
Justin Atkins just caught a small keeper to fill his limit, and Andy Morgan just filled his limit as well, but he’s in the bushes so much we couldn’t see the size.
10:17 Auten limits
Todd Auten just filled out his limit for about 9 pounds. That’s three limits on the day – things are definitely a little bit slower today.
10:03 Strader limits, Weaver adds
Wesley Strader just filled out his limit. He’s got more than 11 pounds now, and is unofficially in second. He’s been fishing in the same region as Morgan this week, but today he’s having a better day than the G.O.A.T. is to this point.
Josh Weaver just put his fourth in the boat – it’s a green one and gives him 10 pounds or better (a lot depends on the actual weight of his big smallmouth).
“Maybe the new water’s gonna be the gig,” says Andy Morgan. The man just flipped a third small keeper in the boat. He’s gonna need some size, but he for sure has the numbers going now.
9:50 Morgan again
Andy Morgan says there are some locals out fishing what he has been fishing, and he thinks the pressure has had an affect. His new area looks basically the same, just with clearer water and less current. He caught two non-keepers in short order, plus his second keeper, so he might be on to something.
9:45 Two for Morgan
Andy Morgan just made a slight location change to some similar water that’s a little clearer. Almost immediately, he popped a keeper largemouth in the boat.
9:32 The current situation
Bryan Schmitt has built out a commanding lead at the moment, but his competitors all still have empty space in their livewells to fill out a limit. Schmitt has caught several more keepers since the last updates, but he hasn’t culled anything. He’s exploring some other areas of his grass flat now, and letting the fish he started on this morning rest up a little. Schmitt says there is a lot more current than yesterday, and he’s using that to his advantage and targeting the slacks and eddies of his grass flat.
9:25 Weaver got himself a big one
Josh Weaver has had a knack for getting a big one every day and he just popped about a 3- or 4-pound smallmouth off his starting current/wing spot. He’ll need to fill his limit in style, but he’s definitely off to a good start.
9:20 Felix has had a slow morning
Austin Felix started out flipping for smallmouths and has struck out. Now he’s fishing some flooded wood on an island for largemouths, but he’s not catching. He’s planning on running into a backwater for largemouths soon, so we’ll see how that develops.
9:00 Schmitt, Auten Wesley
Bryan Schmitt just culled again with a “heavy 2,” and he’s probably at about 14 pounds now. He’s caught more fish this morning than the rest of the field combined at this point.
Todd Auten boxed up his third keeper a moment ago, as did Wesley Strader.
8:45 Weaver’s wing dam, Stefan
Josh Weaver is poled down and fishing a shallow wing dam down below Stoddard. It’s starting to get windy out there, and there’s a lot of current. Despite his quick start, things seem to be going against him at the moment.
Down in 9, hunting for new bedding smallmouths, Matt Stefan just added a little keeper.
8:40 Another small cull for Schmitt
FLW Live is rolling and Bryan Schmitt lead things off by culling. He didn’t add much, but ounces is money in this game.
8:34 Loss all ‘round
Andy Morgan just lost a biggun flipping in the trees. Up in 8, Josh Weaver lost one as well – no word on the size though.
8:29 Schmitt culls
We’re a little uncertain on the weight, but Bryan Schmitt just culled out the one smallmouth he had in the boat with a chunky largemouth. We’re now almost certain he has more than 13 pounds in the ‘well, and it could be edging more toward the 14-pound mark.
8:20 Schmitt, others
Bryan Schmitt just filled his limit out with another decent bass. He’s got about 13 pounds already and is kinda starting to run away and hide.
Wesley Strader is on the board with two now, and Justin Atkins has his second keeper as well.
8:18 Pike like chartreuse, Nixon
After a few short strikes, Bryan Schmitt, who is poled down and making repetitive casts offshore, changed from his jig for a chartreuse/white vibrating jig. He immediately caught a pike.
Larry Nixon’s tree flipping change appears to be working – he just landed a good smallmouth to get on the board.
8:05 Weaver and Nixon
Josh Weaver just boxed up a keeper smallmouth for his second of the day.
Down in Pool 9, Larry Nixon has decided to quit is barge deal. The first few days he was fishing rock and current right near the lock, but the water is way too high and fast today. Now he’s flipping trees.
7:41 Morgan is fishing
Andy Morgan and the rest have made it down to Pool 9 now and the G.O.A.T. got things rolling with a 2-pound smallmouth.
7:38 Schmitt is cooking
Bryan Schmitt got an early start by staying in Pool 8 and he’s making the most of it. Schmitt just landed his third and fourth keepers in a flurry and has about 10 pounds in the boat for just four fish. As usual, it’s all been on the swim jig for the Potomac ace.
7:33 Auten with one
Todd Auten plucked his first of the day out of a laydown. It was a solid 3-pounder.
7:23 Speak of the devil…
David Dudley just found himself a 3-pounder, boxing up his second keeper of the morning on his trusty wacky rig.
Also, Justin Atkins has a 2-pounder in the boat.
David Dudley’s first is a decent keeper on a wacky worm. Whodathunk? The Virginia pro has been catching a ton of numbers this week, but true 3+ size has eluded him so far – he’ll need to change that today to make a charge.
7:10 Weaver breaks the ice, Schmitt follows
Josh Weaver has struck first, sticking a 2-pounder on a wacky rig at the wing dam he did so well off on day three. Moments later, Bryan Schmitt followed that up with a chunky largemouth and then a solid keeper smallmouth.
Wisconsin is hard
6:54 The locking crew
This week the tournament has basically evolved into a battle between Pool 8 and Pool 9, with 7 essentially a non-factor. Today, Andy Morgan, Austin Felix, Matt Stefan, Wesley Strader, and Larry Nixon are all headed down to Pool 9. They’ll be getting started a little later due to the lock, but so far everyone this week has locked without issue, and the lockmaster down there appears to have a soft spot for bass fishing.
6:45 Game on
The weather has finally broken for day four of the FLW Tour presented by Evinrude on the Mississippi River. Though all three pools are still rising (Pool 9 more slowly than the rest), conditions should actually be pretty good for fishing today. The temperature is in the 50s and it’s fairly balmy at takeoff – the rain even seems to be mostly over and done with.
Heading out with the lead, Bryan Schmitt has a 12-ounce edge over Andy Morgan, but more than 2 pounds over Austin Felix who is in third. With how close the weights have been this week, that seems like a pretty good margin, but in ordinary tournament fishing it’s nothing. We’ve seen an 18-pound bag this week, and if someone catches another today, from whatever place, they just might walk away a champion.
The fishing has been a mix of largemouths and smallmouths all week, with some fish caught off grass and current places and a pile caught off beds. Prior to day three, bedding smallmouths had lead the charge across the board, but Bryan Schmitt discovered some prespawn largemouths that a allowed him to move on up into the lead. Pretty much everyone is worried about their pattern continuing today, but Schmitt is especially nervous – even yesterday, he believed the water was higher than it should have been.
Day three GoPro highlights
Temperature at takeoff: 52 degrees
Forecast high: 54 degrees
Sky: mostly cloudy
Precipitation: 20 percent chance of rain
Wind: SW at 14 mph
Format: All pros and co-anglers will compete for two days. The co-angler champion will be crowned on day two, and the field will be cut to the top 20 pros on day three and the top 10 pros on day four. The winners will be determined by total cumulative weight.
Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. CT
Takeoff Location: Veterans Freedom Park, 1 Clinton St., La Crosse, Wis.
Weigh-In Time: 3 p.m. CT on days one and two; 4 p.m. CT on days three and four
Weigh-In Location: Veterans Freedom Park all days
FLW Live: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. CT to 12:30 p.m. CT