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DEL RIO, Texas Ish Monroe barely made the top 12 cut Saturday. And he's 14 pounds behind Bassmaster Elite Series Battle on the Border leader Derek Remitz. But Monroe knows he still has a chance to win the $100,000 first prize Sunday.
Because the tournament is on Lake Amistad, a 67,000-acre reservoir on the Texas-Mexico border that has earned a reputation as one of the best, if not the best, bass fisheries in the world.
"Yes, you definitely can do that on this lake," said Monroe, who won the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament here a year ago with a four-day total of 20 bass weighing 104 pounds, 8 ounces. "The fishing is getting better every day. More and more fish are moving on to (spawning) beds. If the wind lays and you can look at them, there's no telling what could happen."
Todd Faircloth produced the truth in that statement Saturday. And he wasn't "looking at them." Faircloth zoomed from 39th place to fourth with a five-bass limit weighing 36-pounds, 7 ounces. The Jasper, Texas, angler caught four of those five in just 15 minutes, including a 10-11-lunker that was the Purolater Big Bass of the day.
"It was a day you just dream about," said Faircloth.
Faircloth caught his fish on a soft plastic lure in an area where he'd been fishing the previous two days.
"I don't know if I hadn't hit the sweet spot, or they just moved in there," he said. "But when you catch a big one, and there's 10 or 11 just like it following it in, you know you're in the right place."
Faircloth caught his fish between noon and 1 p.m.
Remitz, an Elite Series rookie and the Battle on the Border leader, had his 30 lbs., 7 oz., in the boat by 9 a.m. The Huntsville, Ala., angler jumped from 37th place Thursday to seventh place Friday with a limit weighing 29-7. Saturday Remitz went back to the deep ledges where bass are staging to spawn and moved into first place with the second-best limit of the day and a three-day total of 80-1.
"There's a good possibility that more fish are coming into this location before they go to the banks to spawn," Remitz said.
"This is something you dream about," he said about leading on Day Three of the first Elite Series tournament he's ever fished.
But it may be tough for the rookie to get a good night's sleep with a "Bassmaster Who's Who" on his tail. That list includes Steve Kennedy, the 2006 Elite Series Toyota Rookie of the Year, who is in second place with 77-2. Less than a pound behind Kennedy is 2006 Elite Series Angler of the Year Mike Iaconelli with 76-4. Edwin Evers (71-4), Davy Hite (69-13) and four-time BASS Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam (68-4) round out the top seven.
There have been several rarely-seen changes in the standings from day-to-day in this tournament. Faircloth (39th to fourth Saturday) and Remitz (37th to seventh Friday) are the prime examples. With a weather front and stormy conditions predicted for Sunday, the finale at Lake Amistad becomes even more unpredictable.
"I know where two 10-pounders are," said Kennedy, who is hoping for a weather change. "Generally, low pressure coming in makes them bite."
"(Sunday) could be a beautiful day," said VanDam about the looming storm front. "I've seen some of the biggest bass I've ever seen in the wild in this lake."
And that's why every angler in the top 12 feels like he still has a chance to win Sunday. Only on Lake Amistad would that be anything more than wishful thinking.