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2:00 p.m. – Signing off on 2018
The 2018 FLW Tour season comes to a close in just a couple hours when the final weigh-in goes down at Lake St. Clair Metropark. The unofficial tournament leader is Chad Grigsby. He's back on his primary spot, trying to find a fish to put this away. Dylan Hays and Brad Knight are on his heels. Hays is hammering them, but just can't find the bigger bites. Based on what we know now, this is going to be a very tight weigh-in, and a very exciting finish to the season.
1:45 p.m. – Castledine culls; Grigsby stays on the move
We'll update one more time at 2 p.m. The latest report comes from Todd Castledine, who has culled out a 2 1/4 with a 4 and now has 17 pounds.
Chad Grigsby is on the move. He's hit three or four spots without any luck.
Brad Knight has his Power-Pole Drift Paddles deployed and is on the drift.
Dylan Hays has landed 10 fish in a row that can't help his weight. He's gotta find a bigger bite.
1:25 p.m. – St. Clair is getting a little rough
The wind has picked up on St. Clair, and the white caps are rolling. Combined with boat wake it's going to make for some bumpy runs in.
Chad Grigsby made a little move and is now slinging a tube at them. He hasn't thrown the tube in quite some time because he lit 'em up with the spy bait. Looks like he's planning to run and gun a little more this afternoon.
Brad Knight is throwing back 4-pounders. They can't help him. He needs a bigger bite.
Dylan Hays is in the same situation. He's lost some good ones but needs another 5-pounder or two.
The weights these guys are piling up are just insane.
12:50 p.m. – Hays keeps catching
Dylan Hays doesn't weigh his fish. He just compares them on his culling beam and boxes the biggest one. So our estimates for him aren't perfect. That said, he's still crushing fish. Some help; some don't.
The wind is starting to pick up in his area. We'll see if that has any impact on the fishing.
12:30 p.m. – Hays is heating up
After a long lull Dylan Hays is finally making a surge to keep up with Grigsby. Hays just bagged back-to-back 5-plus pounders that bring his unofficial weight to a little over 94 pounds. He literally cannot keep the fish off the end of his line at the moment. Meanwhile, Chad Grigsby has gone cold. The wind is certainly playing a factor both anglers’ bite windows.
Bryan Thrift also made a solid 2-pound cull. That brings Thrift up to 20 pounds on the day – still in fifth place.
Brad Knight has culled up to 22 pounds.
Ryan Chandler replaced both his remaining little ones and is now working on a pretty decent bag. He has 18 pounds.
Todd Castledine has filled his limit. He's got 15-plus.
11:55 a.m. – Grigsby tosses back a tank
Chad Grigsby just landed a nice smallie that'd go probably 4 pounds, but it didn't even help him. We re-checked his weight, and he has just shy of 26. That last keeper was accompanied by a little wolf pack as Grigsby fought it to the boat. He's onto something really special.
Ryan Chandler has improved lately too. He culled out a 1-pounder with a 3-pounder.
11:39 a.m. – Grisby catches a "big ol' thick nasty"
So our estimates for Grigsby were a tad high before. He probably had 25 when we posted 26, but he just landed what he calls a "big ol' thick nasty" smallmouth that weighs 5 pounds, 3 ounces. He culled out a 4-pound, 4-ounce bass. So now he has about 26.
11:35 a.m. – Dobson is trying to get back in this
Scott Dobson just landed a 5-pounder that gives him 20 1/2 pounds on the day. He still has a long way to go to catch Grigsby, but he's on the right track.
11:27 a.m. – Grigsby gains 5 ounces
"Five ounces is huge," said Chad Grigsby after his last cull. He's rolling now and just keeps pushing his leading margin farther and farther out there. He's up by about 6 pounds.
11:20 a.m. – A few updates
Joey Cifuentes caught No. 6. He has around 16 3/4 total.
Ryan Chandler has 11 pounds. His best is a 5-pounder.
Grigsby just swung in another non-keeper. These St. Clair smallies really love the Duo Realis Spy Bait 80. Better get some here.
11:00 a.m. – Grigsby scores BIG
Grigsby just culled out the 3 1/2-pounder with a fish that dwarfed it. It was easily 5 pounds, but probably more like 5 1/2 or 6. That's a huge upgrade for him.
He's bringing his spy bait through 6 to 10 feet. He says conditions are absolutely perfect – slick calm, and the fish are piled up around him.
"They are absolutely gagging it," he says.
Grigsby just caught another one right after this post went up. It didn't help.
His bites come in little flurries of three or four, with 15 to 20 minutes in between.
10:52 a.m. – Grigsby might have more than we thought
Chad Grigsby just told the FLW Live crew that he has caught a 5, 4-11 and 6 in the last 20 minutes. He has more than 23 pounds now and, by our estimates, leads by about 4 pounds. His 6-pounder came on a spy bait. He's whipping it out, counting it down and winding it back.
Jeremy Lawyer has culled again. He has 19-plus.
A 4-pounder helped Dobson cull up to about 6 1/4 pounds.
10:44 a.m. – Grigsby is in the lead
With his last cull, Chad Grigsby takes over the lead. He's on a big school of fish, and the bites are coming in frequently.
Seriouly, go watch FLW Live. Hays and Knight are chatting with each other while they fish against one another for $100,000. It's quite entertaining.
10:42 a.m. – Hays battling muskies, Lawyer catching hawgs
Go log on to FLW Live and you might see more St. Clair craziness, like the muskie that just tried to eat Dylan Hays' smallmouth. He was hooked up, and the big toothy buggar tried to gobble the smallie. You can watch if you click here.
Jeremy Lawyer has pieced together an 18-plus bag.
10:28 a.m. – Dobson limits, Grigsby still catching UPDATE
Scott Dobson finally has five. A 3-pounder gives him 14-plus.
Grigsby and Thrift are both hooked up … stand by. UPDATE: Neither got any help from those fish. Grigsby has hooked up several times on small fish and just made a good cull to get to almost 21 pounds. He let out a big yell when that fish was in the net.
10:25 a.m. – It's all knotted up at the top
Brad Knight just culled up by a few ounces, and by our estimates it's way too close of a race to call. Knight, Dylan Hays and Chad Grigsby are within ounces of each other.
10:10 a.m. – Where are the kickers
There've only been a few 5-pounders caught so far today. The door is still open if someone can piece together a mega limit, but it really looks like the top five coming in are the only ones in contention.
Jeremy Lawyer now has a limit and has culled twice. His last three went 3 3/4, 3 1/2 and 4.
Ryan Chandler has a limit of babies. His biggest won't even go 3 pounds.
Chad Grigsby just hit a little lull in his action. He changes up lures every 30 to 45 minutes to give them a different look. He's been rotating between a drop-shot and a tube, which he's ripping off bottom.
The lake is still pretty slick. The forecast winds haven't developed yet.
10 a.m. – Current weight estimates
ANGLER TODAY TOTAL
Hays 18-8 90-11
Knight 18-8 88-14
Grigsby 17-4 88-8
Thrift 16-4 82-6
Dobson 11-4 79-14
Castledine 12-0 77-10
Cifuentes 12-0 75-7
Chandler 10-8 74-8
Lawyer 11-0 73-14
Hahner* 0-0 63-11
*Hahner has been out of cell range all day. We'll update this afternoon.
You can always click on the link to the live weight estimates if you want to check the unofficial standings throughout the day. That link is here.
9:55 a.m. – Updates on the leaders
Dylan Hays made a cull for, unofficially, 18 1/2 pounds. Brad Knight has the same. He's caught 3-pounders that have had to go back.
Bryan Thrift has five keepers. His move to the lake really seems to have helped. That last one weighed 4-5.
Scott Dobson dumped a 4 1/2-pounder at the net that would've filled his limit. The fish spit his swimbait right at the net.
Jeremy Lawyer culled out a 2-pounder with a 3 1/2.
Joey Cifuentes lost two good fish in the last 30 minutes. They looked like a 3 1/2 and 4 1/2. He's fishing within site of the mouth of the takeoff canal. His better spot is in Canadian waters, but he's trying to get a limit first so he can go there and upgrade. He's throwing nothing but a spy bait and drop-shot.
Chad Grigsby upgraded again. He got rid of his last 2-pounder. He's pretty stoked.
9:27 a.m. – Finesse baits still dominating
Ned rigs, drop-shots and other subtle finesse setups are easily the most productive among the top 10 this morning. Z-Man's ElaZtech baits have also been popular this week. They're durable, they float just right and the smallies can't resist them. We'll have a full report on the baits used by the top 10 after the tournament.
As for updates, Todd Castledine landed his fourth. He has 12-plus pounds.
Jeremy Lawyer has four fish as well. His latest is a 3 1/2.
Scott Dobson caught his fourth keeper. It's not very big and was barely long enough to make it in the livewell.
Bryan Thrift landed a 2-pounder for his third fish.
9:13 a.m. – Chandler gets in the game
Ryan Chandler quickly landed three keepers just a few minutes ago. His fish are small. He has about 5 1/4 pounds.
Bryan Thrift added his second keeper, and it's a good one – a 4-pounder.
8:55 a.m. – Updates
Todd Castledine is up in about 4 feet of water, visually scanning for fish to cast to. He's gotten a couple to bite but hasn't hooked up.
Bryan Thrift is on the move. He's still stuck on one keeper. His routine has been to start in the St. Clair River in the morning and then head to the lake. The river bite must've died on him. Maybe the lake will be kinder.
Chad Grigsby was able to cull out one of his 2-pounders. He had 14 1/2 pounds before that fish. We're going in for a new weight estimate.
Dobson's third weighs 3 1/4 pounds.
8:42 a.m. – Knight just landed a tank
You need to be watching FLW Live so you can see Brad Knight in action. He just landed a nice one. We think it's a 5-pounder. If you were watching FLW Live, you'd have seen it.
He and Dylan Hays have been sharing water all week and using their trolling motors to maneuver and control their drifts. Now the wind has picked up a little bit. While it's not windy or rough, there's enough breeze that Hays has dropped his Power-Pole Drift Paddles to control his drifting presenation.
8:40 a.m. – Grigsby still getting plenty of bites
Chad Grigsby continues to get bite after bite, but the size hasn't really been there of late. He's throwing back small fish pretty regularly.
Joey Cifuentes landed his fourth keeper. It'll weigh about 4 pounds.
8:25 a.m. – Castledine nearly doubles … alone
Todd Castledine netted his third keeper, a 3-pounder, and four more keepers chased it to the boat. Castledine dropped the net, pitched back a tube and hooked up with another fish. Unfortunately, the fish spit the bait before he could net it. He has three for about 9 pounds. Now he's idling some new water up in the mouth of the St. Clair.
8:08 a.m. – More updates
Jeremy Lawyer has a nice 3 1/2 in the box. He also added a 2-pounder for No. 2.
Chad Grigsby filled his limit with a 3 1/4-pounder. He caugh that fish on spy bait.
Scott Dobson added a second – a 2-pounder. He's running and gunning, trying to track down a good bite. He's already on his fourth spot. He hooked up with a good one on a jerkbait but it jumped off.
Bryan Thrift caught himself a couple of nice keeper walleyes. Too bad there's no room in the ice chest for them.
Dylan Hays just caught one that might go 3 1/2 pounds.
As for Knight, he says the spot where the locals dropped anchor is right on the waypoint where he's been catching some bigguns. Not good.
8:02 a.m. – Hays lands a 4, Knight is culling
Dylan Hays landed a 4-pounder for his third keeper. Meanwhile, Brad Knight is culling. He added a 3-pounder to the livewell and another keeper that culled, and now has 17 total.
Bryan Thrift got on the board recently too. His only fish is weighs 1 1/2.
7:49 a.m. – Knight lands another, dealing with some local pressure
Brad Knight caught a 3-pounder for his fourth keeper. Unfortunately, some locals just dropped an anchor about 60 yards in front of him and got started rigging up lines to do some fishing. It might not affect his fishing too much, but it's one more stressor to deal with.
Todd Castledine is catching his fish on a specific jig and now has one less in his possession. Castledine hooked a muskie and wound up breaking off.
7:40 a.m. – Hays is on the board
Dylan Hays' first fish is a small keeper. Brad Knight added a second, also small, and then landed a 3 1/4-pounder.
Joey Cifuentes has three in the boat for 9 pounds.
Chad Grigsby already has four keepers for about 11 1/2 pounds. He's been getting a lot of bites. He's lost a few, landed some shorts and is really around a lot of fish.
7:19 a.m. – They're catching early
Todd Castledine popped two 3-pounders to start his day. He's using a paddle-tail swimbait.
Brad Knight started strong with a 4-4. "A little guy," he says. He's got a small group of spectators tagging along this morning.
7:07 a.m. – Grigsby has two
Chad Grigsby is off to a fast start with two keepers in the livewell. UPDATE: Grigsby now has three keepers, including a 3-pounder. He's using a tube to fire them up.
Dobson and Thrift both ran up the St. Clair River. Thrift is working a point where two channels meet.
6:53 a.m. – Cifuentes first on the board
A nice 3 1/2-pound smallmouth for Chad Cifuentes gets the action started this morning. Expect a whole heck of a lot more catch reports today. They're going to smash 'em.
Chad Grigsby arrived at his first spot a few minutes ago, lost one at the boat pretty quickly and put a keeper in the livewell.
Scott Dobson also has one – a 3 1/2-pounder.
6:45 a.m. – They're off
The story lines are rich this morning on Lake St. Clair. There's Chad Grigsby, who led the first two days but slipped to second on day three, chasing a win on a fishery where he grew up competing. There's Dylan Hays, the leader, and third-place pro Brad Knight sharing water and chasing down a win – what would be a first for Hays, and the second in Knight's career. There's Scott Dobson, the local favorite, who has come up just a little short of his goal each and every day but who's still just a few pounds back. And there's Bryan Thrift, in fifth, chasing down yet another tournament win to pad an already stellar resume.
They, along with the rest of the top 10, launched from Lake St. Clair Metropark this morning at 6:30 in humid, muggy conditions to go continue what has been an absolute smallmouth slugfest. Someone's going to win $100,000. Someone is going to punctuate the 2018 season with a victory.
Who'll it be? Follow along with the coverage blog, and tune in at 8:30 a.m. ET to watch FLW Live and follow the action to find out.
Temperature at takeoff: 76 degrees
Forecast high: 92 degrees
Precipitation: 0 percent chance of rain
Wind: S at 5 to 15 mph, increasing to 10 to 20 in late morning
Folgers Morning Takeoff: 6:30 a.m. ET at Lake St. Clair Metropark, 31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Township, MI
Weigh-in: Thursday and Friday at 3:15 p.m. ET at Lake St. Clair Metropark and 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Lake St. Clair Metropark
FLW Expo: 12 to 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Lake St. Clair Metropark
FLW Live: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. ET