BUFFALO — For the first time during the tournament, Lake Erie this morning resembled, well, a lake at the Day Three launch of the Empire Chase presented by Farmer's Insurance.
During the early morning hours on Saturday, thunderstorms barreled through the Buffalo area, conveniently ending before the 8 a.m. ET launch. With the front past, the high winds and heavy surf of the previous two days dissolved, leaving bathtub-still water conditions.
"After the last two, we deserve a fun day," Elite Series pro Gary Klein said after briefing his co-angler on the day's strategy.
Klein, currently in a two-way tie for 16th place with 36-8, expects to see the biggest weights of the tournament come across the stage during Saturday's weigh-in. He also feels the absence of wind should make it easier for the 50 pros to position their boats better on key areas.
"We're already around quality fish," Klein said. "Now we can really pick them off."
Matt Reed, however, disagrees. The Texas angler, in second place with 43-6, believes the Saturday bite will slow as a result of less wave action.
"It makes it easier to fish, but they won't bite as much," Reed predicted.
But one topic remains unarguable: Calmer water will allow anglers to cover more of the spots targeted on their GPS devices. And getting there will prove much easier and less painful.
"This flat calm will cut a 30-minute run to about a five-minute run," pro Fred Roumbanis said.
The Bixby, Okla., resident figured he needs 21 pounds to make Sunday's top 12-cut from his current position in 13th place.
But not everyone is happy about today's more angler-friendly conditions on the water.
Brian Snowden, who armed himself with a deep-hulled walleye boat for protection against Lake Erie's waves at the start of the tournament, wished the weather hadn't changed.
"I was hoping it would be a little rougher — don't make it easy on these guys," Snowden said with a smile. "Now they can cover more water. But hopefully, it (the wind) will pick up soon."
Snowden, sitting in seventh place with 40-11, expects a 60-pound total after Day Three will keep him in the running to fish on Sunday.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Empire Chase with weigh-in host Keith Alan, July 31-Aug. 3, 2008. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, catch "Bassmaster University" at 4:15 p.m. ET before the weigh-in. Then on Sunday, get "Hooked Up" with hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona at 1 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. ET, with the final day weigh-in and real-time leaderboard content starting at 5:00 p.m. ET.