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BASS Blog — 2008 Bassmaster Classic

Check out the Day Two blog here

ANDERSON S.C., 3:45 p.m. — 2/22/08

Any way you look at it, this weigh-in is sure to wow a few folks. You have the most-loved and most-hated guy in the fishing world potentially leading this thing, followed by some of the biggest names in the sport.

Our best guess is there are at least three 20-pound-plus sacks. In addition, there's at least 25 anglers with limits over 10 pounds. I know of at least two fish which should be over 6 pounds, and several over 4 and 5 pounds.

Those are the type of weights that make a Classic weigh-in exciting and worth watching. How it will actually shake out is hard to call.

But this is the way it looks now, with my apologies to all the Alton Jones fans for the last post. I just forgot to include him.

• Michael Iaconelli: 22 pounds
• Scott Rook: 21 pounds, 10 ounces
• Charlie Hartley: 20 pounds, 3 ounces
• Terry Scroggins: 18 pounds
• Kevin VanDam: 17 pounds, 8 ounces
• Cliff Pace: 17 pounds
• Alton Jones: 15 pounds, 6 ounces
• Aaron Martens: 15 pounds, 2 ounces
• Kotaro Kiriyama: 14 pounds, 8 ounces
• Kelly Jordon: 14 pounds, 8 ounces
• Dave Wolak: 14 pounds, 8 ounces

In the meantime, this blog will be shutting down for a while. I have to leave my warm mansion and head to the weigh-in. But in the next few hours, there should be more stories and photos from this event than any one fan can look at.

(But I hope everyone does.)

Check back in tomorrow — we'll be having this kind of fun all over again, starting at 7:15 a.m.

Oh, and never give up.

ANDERSON S.C., 3:15 p.m. — 2/22/08

It's 3:15 and the first flight of competitors are starting to check in. As I look out from my comfy trailer (in my home state of Arkansas this is a Governor's Mansion) I can see roostertails and boats running hard, trying to make it back on time.

No sooner than I typed that and Iaconelli reports in with yet another 4-pound class catch, which basically gives him a 22-pound sack, putting him in the unofficial lead.

He's in the second flight so he has another 30 minutes to go. The fireworks aren't over yet, obviously.

The current, reported, unofficial Top 10 looks like this:

• Michael Iaconelli: 22 pounds
• Scott Rook: 21 pounds, 10 ounces
• Charlie Hartley: 20 pounds, 3 ounces
• Terry Scroggins: 18 pounds
• Kevin VanDam: 17 pounds, 8 ounces
• Cliff Pace: 17 pounds
• Aaron Martens: 15 pounds, 2 ounces
• Kotaro Kiriyama: 14 pounds, 8 ounces
• Kelly Jordon: 14 pounds, 8 ounces
• Dave Wolak: 14 pounds, 8 ounces

One thing to constantly remind. These weights are unofficial. They are the best guesses of the obeserver operating a piece of technical equipment. Remember, best guesses.

But they do give us an idea of what could take place at the weigh-in. My guess is we're in for more surprises.

ANDERSON S.C., 2:50 p.m. — 2/22/08

Charlie Hartley may be screaming now, and with good reason.

Three minutes ago, Hartley boated a 6-pound class fish according to the observer in his boat. That pushes him well up the standings in third place, with 20 pounds, 3 ounces, behind Scott Rook and Ike.

Those last-minute moves are becoming more frequent and with a little more regularity.

Stay tuned.

ANDERSON S.C., 2:45 p.m. — 2/22/08

I didn't hear — I'm in noisy room — but you might have heard it if you were outside. That rumble was Mike Iaconelli screaming, following that up with a "Never Give Up."

Whatever works for you. And it works for him.

He's still in second, but he just boated, yet another 4-pound class fish in this last hour. That gives him a 21-8 total, just ounces away from Rook.

It's anybody's guess who will actually lead at this point and with everything so unofficial, but Iaconelli is obviously making some noise.

Everything else in the top 10 is virtually the same, but count on it changing — Ike's not the only one saying "Never Give Up" at this point.

Wrapping up a few questions from our conversation at the bottom of the page.

Edwin Evers is fairing respectably. He could be in contention by the end of the day. Right now, he's in 16th place with 11-8. Give or take a couple of pounds and a last-minute flurry, he could be right there.

Greg "Hack Attack" Hackney is probably struggling, but you never know. We have him with 7-13 and in 30th place. Hack is in the area of Rook and in some ways they fish similarly. So you never know until they hit the launch ramp.

As for Chris Lane, he may actually have a boatload. His brother Bobby is still in the top 12. And we haven't heard a peep from Chris all day. That could be a function of the weather and all this techno gear in the boats.

On that note, try and fathom keeping all these cell signals going at one time in some really funky weather. Dropped calls happen on clear days, when you add nasty weather, bumpy boat rides and a guy who's more in tune with winning the Classic than keeping up with data, you sometimes get these things.

Don't count out Chris Lane.

For that matter, don't count out any one.

ANDERSON S.C., 2 p.m.— 2/22/08

We're getting in the waning minutes of Day One. I'm sure several guys are feeling pretty good right now. But there are far more who know they are in trouble, and you can see some of them hopping and skipping about, looking for the "get-well" honey hole.

A couple of these guys will find a bite or two in the next hour that could change the course of this event. A few others will become complacent.

They say you can't win the tournament on Day One, but you can certainly lose it. If that's the case, then there will be a few of those mishaps in the next hour.

They (as in these anglers) also say the key to winning any big-time event is knowing how much it will take to actually win. We ask a sgement of the anglers each opening morning what they think it will take to lead.

I just looked at the anglers' responses, and I wasn't surprised to see that all these anglers were pretty much dead on. Their guess? In the low 20 pounds.

That's pretty much where we sit right now, with Rook have an unofficial 21 pounds, 10 ounces.

Now the deal for those who don't have that is if they are still confident in that guess. If so, they will be running. If not, they may lose this event in the next hour.

Just in:

Michael Iaconelli has moved into second with 19 pounds.

That's a considerable shake up, one that is certain to bring out a lot of groan from some and cheers from others. But it also illustrates the point I was just making.

The unofficial top 10 looks like this:

• Scott Rook: 21 pounds, 10 ounces
• Ike: 19 pounds
• Terry Scroggins: 18 pounds
• Kevin VanDam: 17 pounds, 8 ounces
• Cliff Pace: 17 pounds
• Charlie Hartley: 15 pounds, 11 ounces
#8226; Alton Jones: 15 pounds, 6 ounces
• Aaron Martens: 15 pounds, 2 ounces
• Kotaro Kiriyama: 14 pounds, 8 ounces
• Kelly Jordon : 14 pounds, 8 ounces

ANDERSON S.C., 1:34 p.m. —2/22/08

Scott Rook just keeps putting the pressure on. He just added a 4 1/2 pounder to his creel, giving him 21 pounds, 10 ounces and a more than 3-pound lead over Terry "Big Show" Scroggins.

Rook who was in Coneross Creek is moving around the Seneca River, which is a good sign for him. He just caught a solid 4-pounder away from that initial area so the best guess is he's running a pattern and has some things figured out.

Judging by the catch rates, of those on the top of the heap, he's the only one adding to his weight.

Answering a few questions from the bottom of this blog on the conversation:

As far as any word from Ike. He's got a limit and is setting in seventh place with 15-4. Don't think he's broken anything yet.

Still haven't heard a lick from Skeet, but I'm guessing that's a technical issue. If not we're going to re-spike his hair, because he's messing up my fantasy team ranking.

(This just in: Skeet is in 31st with 7 pounds. Come on Hollywood.)

Casey Ashley, the hometown favorite, is in 14th with four fish totalling 11-13. He's still in a position to make a big move. One of those 4- to 5-pounder could put him right in the thick of things.

Kelly Jordon is another angler missing that fifth keeper. He's in 11th with 12-14 and could make a move quick with a solid keeper.

Still surprised by Steve Kennedy? He's in 25th place with 9-7.

The top 10, with the exception of Rook's weight, hasn't changed much.

ANDERSON S.C., 1 p.m.—2/22/08

I knew we would get a few more surprises before this day was over. This one is rather pleasant.

Charlie Hartley has jumped into the mix in a big way. He's currently in fifth place, just having boated a to 4- to 5-pound class fish. He was far enough down the leaderboard we weren't paying attention to his position. Now he's in the top 10.

Hartley is one of our favorite personalities. The dude always has a smile on his face and we know he can catch them. Obviously, he's figured out something.

We followed him in practice and saw him fishing docks. The rain has more or less stopped and it's gotten brighter, not exactly sun glass needing bright.
But possibly bright enough to position a few fish.

I'm searching I know. But if that's the case, that could bode well for several of our anglers, including some we haven't heard from that we know are concentrating on docks.

At the noon hour:

• Scott Rook: 20 pounds, 1 ounce
• Terry Scroggins: 18 pounds
• Kevin VanDam: 17 pounds, 8 ounces
• Cliff Pace: 16 pounds
• Charlie Hartley: 15 pounds, 11 ounces
• Alton Jones: 15 pounds, 6 ounces
• Michael Iaconelli: 15 pounds, 4 ounces
• Aaron Martens: 15 pounds, 2 ounces
• Kotaro Kiriyama: 14 pounds, 8 ounces
• Bobby Lane: 13 pounds, 1 ounce

ANDERSON S.C., 12:15 p.m. — 2/22/08

Not a whole lot of shaking going on in terms of leaderboard moves. About a third of the field has a limit. The smallest of which is 6-8 caught by Stephen Browning. And, almost all of the anglers have reported in with at least one keeper.

Still a little worried about those not showing up.

For instance, Skeet Reese. I'm sure the rain has washed down the spikes in his hair, but that sucker has not caught a fish in Lord knows when. I'm hoping for my fantasy team's sake that one of those technical glitches has kept his reports from coming in.

Added to that list is Jeff Coble, another one of those "never zero heroes."

And it just gets better. Mike McClelland is on the zero list, which is a total surprise, along with Derek Remitz, Ish Monroe and Chris Lane.

Lane better talk to his big brother.

In things that don't surprise me: Tommy Biffle is so far up the Tugaloo that the location on the map is barely legible. He's got about 9 pounds.

In the other river, the Seneca, Greg Hackney is in a similar position up there, and not very far from Scott Rook.

Most of the activity at this hour, and actually most of the day, has been confined to south of Interstate 85, which is basically the lower end where the two rivers come together.

That doesn't bode well for Rook: Hartwell is known for big fish, but a good portion of the field will need to make a big move on Day Two. And that could mean more folks up the rivers.

They all practiced there and few will actually know where Rook is fishing. They will just know he was up there. All of that moving and running could create some overlap, which means possibly getting on Rook's water.

That will be something to watch tomorrow.

ANDERSON S.C., 12:01 p.m. — 2/22/08

I expect big things from Timmy Horton in this event. Haven't seen a single report from him. But we're trying.

But you have to check out his haircut on ArenaCam.

ANDERSON S.C., 11:40 a.m. — 2/22/08

Scott Rook is still holding on and it's not lost on us that everyone at Alltel might be dancing around at this moment.

They are Rook's primary sponsor, which has no bearing on anything really, unless you are also superstitious and a NASCAR fan.

Last weekend, Ryan Newman won Daytona driving a similar looking car to the boat Rook is in. Maybe Newman paved the way for Rook.

Of course, Newman didn't even figure in that race until the last few laps.
Rook might want to slow down a little to properly mimic that performance.

Yeah right.

It should be noted that about a third of the field has captured a limit. And looking at the individual catches, several of those are in the 3-pound plus range and there's been enough from 4 to 6 pounds to give you a feel that if someone gets behind they can catch up.

Looking at early returns on photos (check out our galleries) a lot of these guys are throwing the gamut: Everything from flukes, to small jigs, drop shots, crankbaits and even spoons.

Don't know who is throwing what. But wouldn't it be pretty cool, especially for some of us with gray in our beards, if a spoon could win the Classic?

ANDERSON S.C., 11:15 a.m. ­ 2/22/08

The landscape changes quckly in the Bassmaster Classic. That elusive fourth fish that Rook was looking for has shown up in a big way.

It checks in at that 4- to- 5-pound class mark and he's now taken over the lead with an unofficial total of 19 pounds, 6 ounces.

The unofficial board looks like this:

• Rook: 19 pounds, 6 ounces
• Terry Scroggins: 18 pounds
• KVD: 17 pounds, 8 ounces

• Cliff Pace: 16 pounds
• Alton Jones: 15 pounds, 6 ounces
• Aaron Martens: 15 pounds, 2 ounces
• Ike: 13 pounds, 12 ounces
• Kotoraro Kiriyama: 13 pounds, 6 ounces
• Bobby Lane: 13 pounds, 1 ounces
• Kelly Jordon: 12 pounds, 14 ounces

A big reminder on all of this ... These weights are guesses from the observers in the boat with each angler. I'm sure they are asking, "How much do you think that one weighs?"

But it's still a dicey game. If you ever been at a bass tournament at any level, you soon realize that anglers are the worst guessers in the world.

They suffer from one of two syndroms: The Big Eye Syndrome, created by Roland Martin, which puts every fish as an 8-pounder; and the Sand Bag Syndrome, which has every fish, even an 8-pounder, as about half what it really is.

So like the political polls, we have a plus/minus margin. In this case that has to be about 4 pounds give or take.

ANDERSON S.C., 10:50 a.m. — 2/22/08

All you Aaron Martens fans (count me as one of those) welcome to the world of techno glitches.

Martens' three 4-pounders, which came out of nowhere, weigh about as much as the electronic signal that was sent to record them. He's still at 15 pounds,
2 ounces.

Forgive me for getting a little excited. Cliff Paces still reigns at the top of the leaderboard with 16 pounds, followed by Alton Jones with 15-6, Terry Scroggins with 15-3 and then Martens.

Kevin VanDam and Scott Rook are next in line, both still with four fish and in the 15-pound range.

But the big change has come from Michael Iaconelli. He has four fish weighing about 13 pounds, 12 ounces and sits in seventh place.

Still no word from Boyd Duckett or Skeet Reese.

And there are still a lot of one and two fish stringers. All told, only 11 anglers have limits that we know about.

Strike all of that. As I wrote the above KVD boated his last keeper.

He now sits at the top of the leaderboard with 17 pounds, 8 ounces. That is if no other weightless technical glitches don't shoot it down.

ANDERSON S.C., 10:19 a.m. — 2/22/08

Bassmaster Elite Series angler Marty Robinson cleared up our picture a bit on Scott Rook.

Robinson isn't fishing the Classic, but he's on hand and we featured him a little while ago on the Hooked Up shows. (If you haven't seen these feeds check them out).

According to Robinson, Rook is in Coneross Creek, which is where a lot of local events are won on this lake. While it's up the Seneca, it's one of those creeks that has off-colored water, which explains Rook's presence.

Meanwhile, another one of those river specialists is Kevin Short, and he's moving into the mix. He's all the way up the Tugaloo. He has a limit weighing about 10 pounds and is sitting in 10th place.

But I don't expect that to hold up.

In bigger news, though. Aaron Martens has moved into first place with 19 pounds all of the sudden. That means he's caught two 4-pounders in the last few minutes or one 4-pounder that was keyed in twice.

Either way, he sits atop the leaderboard, with either 17 or 19 pounds.
We'll update later.

ANDERSON S.C., 10:10 a.m. — 2/22/08

Early in the game, there are six or seven anglers who have established themselves as the ones to watch.

They obviously include the usual suspects that we've been talking about all morning.

Cliff Pace still has the unofficial lead with 16 pounds.

He's followd by:

• Terry Scroggins: 15 pounds, 3 ounces
• Kevin VanDam: 15 pounds
• Scott Rook: 14 pounds, 12 ounces
• Alton Jones: 14 pounds, 3 ounces
• Bobby Lane: 13 pounds
• Dave Wolak: 11 1/2 pounds

There are obviously a few others who will work into the mix. But those are the early sprinters.

One to note in that mix is Scott Rook. Everyone has a limit, but him. He has four keepers, two of those in the 5-pound class. He adds another and, well you do the math. The same is true for KVD. He only has four. So those are two to watch.

Rook is no stranger to the top of the leaderboard. He was in the top three when KVD won at New Orleans a few years ago, and in 2006 he won the Major on the Arkansas River.

One big difference with him is, he's tucked way up the Seneca River.

That's not unusual for him. He's probably the best river angler in this field. But the Seneca is supposedly a clear, deep river. Rook is more in tune with fishing water you can track a coon across.

Regardless, he's got something working in his favor.

ANDERSON S.C., 9:30 a.m. — 2/22/08

Watching Dave Wolak creep up the leaderboard reminded us of a conversation that took place a night or two ago with Elite Series angler Russ Lane.

He didn't qualify for this year's Classic, but he did attend BASS' fancy-pants dinner for the Elites this week.

There, he had words of specific praise for Wolak: "In cold-weather tournaments on draw-down lakes," he said. "Dave Wolak is the man."

Maybe I should get Russ in here to help me figure out the rest of this.

Meanwhile, just got a call from ESPN cameraman Brian Mason. He's covering Kevin VanDam, who has boated three fish. One of those is "nice." Mason's estimation in the 6-pound range. With the other two, he's well over 10 pounds.

Yikes, VanDam is hot. Who would have thunk it?

ANDERSON S.C., 9:15 a.m. — 2/22/08

Big Show is making a showing. You look down for one moment, and then back up and Terry Scroggins scares the hell out of you.

He wasn't even on our radar a few minutes ago, but he jumped into second place with 15 pounds. Like the others, he's in the mid- to lower-lake area, almost within sight of the takeoff.

No need to explain the credentials that Scroggins brings to the party. He's one of those guys who can find that little out of the way spot, milk it dry and blow this thing away.

The catch rates for the whole field continues to go up. There are only 16 of the anglers who have yet to get on the scoreboard. And I have to believe there are some technical difficulties involved in those. I hope that's the case for the sake of my fantasy team, which now that I think about I can still change for another hour or so.

Some of those yet to get on the board:

Boyd Duckett, Skeet Reese, Jeff Coble and Timmy Horton.

I'm hoping their observer is a technical idiot at this point.

As I write this, VanDam has just boated another 3- to 4-pounder, giving him 15 pounds and seriously making every one wonder if this will be yet another KVD show.

ANDERSON S.C., 9:10 a.m. — 2/22/08

Talk about your brotherly love. Bobby Lane and Chris Lake are the first siblings who have fished the Classic since 1980.

Bobby is stroking them right now, with 16 pounds, having culled at least three times. Chris has nada.

A few minutes ago, our track followed Chris right to the same area where Bobby has been stroking them left and right.

Don't know if that was pre-planned or by accident. These guys can share info bwteen them, so everything is cool. But it will be interesting to see if Chris starts catching them after this point.

In other action, Dave Wolak has his limit at 11 1/2 pounds. And Gerald Swindle has his. They weigh in around 9 pounds.

On down the leader list, Jamie Laiche (don't even ask me how to pronounce it) has a limit totalling right at 7 pounds.

ANDERSON S.C., 9 a.m.— 2/22/08

The most interesting thing that has shown itself at this point, is the majority of the action is taking place on the lower end of the lake.

That might have been predictable to some. But there is still a healthy portion of anglers fishing up the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers.

They just haven't put together a strong showing. Don't know yet if this rain has muddied up areas in those arms, or if the low pressure, as it normally would on a clear lake, has turned on the fish in the clear end.

From the start, the anglers have said they will have to move around to catch the type limits that will lead this event. At this moment, not a lot of that is taking place.

I can't blame them. It's a nasty day. But most of these guys are accustomed to nasty conditions.

It's a good bet that the catch rates all over the lake will start to pick up as these guys settle into their patterns. But if this sucker ended right now, the lower lake would be reigning king.

ANDERSON S.C., 8:47 a.m. — 2/22/08

The catching is starting to gain steam on Lake Hartwell. Cliff Pace still leads the pack with 16 pounds. But in the limit category, Bobby Lane and Alton Jones have joined him.

Lane has about 13 pounds and Jones has 11 1/2 pounds.

Meanwhile, Dave Wolak is making a move. He has three fish at 7 pounds.

All total, the anglers have boated a total of 60 keepers in the first hour.

ANDERSON S.C., 8:27 a.m. — 2/22/08

No sooner than I write about Cliff Pace seining the pond, and he takes the lead.

He has a full limit at 15 pounds. The best of those is a 4-pounder.

Already the editors in the room are starting on the headlines.

"Pace set for Classic"

"Cliff Pacing Himself for Classic"

You get the idea. Pace was one of the only anglers to make the 50-man cut in every Elite Series event through the Erie tournament.

That puts him in an elite field of his own. It looks like he's continuing his catching ways in this Classic.

ANDERSON S.C., 8:20 a.m. — 2/22/08

If anyone ever had any doubts that fish could be caught on the nastiest day in Classic history, these guys are dispelling any thoughts of it not happening.

Just got a call from intrepid photographer, James Overstreet. He's watching Cliff Pace.

In his words, "The sucker is catching them every cast. He's seining this pond."

Unofficially, we have Pace in second place. He's caught eight fish, only four keepers. But they weigh in around 11 pounds.

Bobby Lane is still on top with the first limit at 13 pounds.

Alton Jones has four, and there are about 25 anglers with at least a keeper each.

Evidently, some of them have found some pods of blueback herring.

ANDERSON S.C., 8 a.m. — 2/22/08

It seems like only minutes since the boats have taken off and already Lake Hartwell is serving up the goods.

At 8 a.m., Bobby Lane has taken the early lead in this event with limit totalling 11 pounds. Close on his heels is Alton Jones, who actually boated the first keeper of the event. He has four fish at 9 pounds.

Others on the board include Jeff Kriet, Ciff Pace, Clark Reehm and Gerald Swindle.

No monsters yet. But most of these guys are on the lower end of Hartwell where the Seneca and Tugaloo come together.

ANDERSON S.C., 7:15 a.m. — 2/22/08

The tournament is under way, with a line of boats snaking their way through the throng of spectators and idling for about a half mile before they blast off.

Despite the rain, there's a helicopter buzzing about and this sucker is under way.

ANDERSON S.C., 7:10 a.m. — 2/22/08

It's five minutes before takeoff and already I'm amazed. When things get bad, anglers are famous for trying to find the silver lining.

One of those this week concerned the weather. And one of the constant thoughts was "with this weather at least the spectator boat traffic won't be
a factor."

Yeah, right.

It's raining, nasty cold and sitting out in front of the contenders waiting to take off is an armada of more than 100 spectator boats who expect to tag along. That's pretty amazing when you consider the weather, but even more so when you consider this lake is so low there are only a few boat ramps open

The ramp the anglers are using is closed to the general public this week, so all these spectators have already had to boat from a long way off to get here.

The excitement that those rabid fans are providing can be felt all the way
up here in my warm, dry trailer.

ANDERSON S.C., 6:30 a.m. — 2/22/08

Welcome to the Bass Blog. Over the course of the next three days this hopefully will be your eyes and ears for everything going on while these guys are on the water. And if things continue as they have been going, this may be one of the more interesting Classics ever.

As an example: Right now, I'm sitting in a house trailer next to the launch ramp waiting for the contenders to show up. It's 30-something degrees. It's raining. And I'm listening to Gerald Swindle on the "Mike & Mike in the Morning Show." This is my 20th Classic, and if you've followed this event at all over a course of time, then you know those few things are different than what was once considered the norm.

But to bring all of that home. Swindle and Golic are talking about rap music.

If the world isn't close to spinning off its axis, get ready for the bump when it gets there.

In a few minutes the contenders will show up and our game will be on.

There are no less than five ESPNOutdoors.com and Bassmaster.com reporters and five photographers running around in the rain tryting to get a great photo, an exceptional quote and keep their finger on the pulse of this event.

All of that of course is being plastered on this site.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting at a table in a relatively warm and dry environment with two computers in front of me. I'm typing on one, while the other has all these little blinking lights, etc., as GPS tracking machines (that's about as technical as I can get) start working as the guys arrive at the ramp and get ready to move out on to Lake Hartwell.

We call it BassTrakk. With it, I can monitor every move of every angler in the field. Each of those anglers has an observer, and every time a pro catches a fish, the observer will punch in a few numbers to let me know what kind of weight is being produced.

As the day progresses, I should be able to let you know who catches the first limit, who catches the most weight, when they are doing it, where the action is and who to watch by the end of the day.

As all of that comes together, this blog will relay that info. Just keep in mind everything that we're doing is unofficial. Every weight is a guess from an observer and is predicated on his ability to work a little bitty keyboard. Most of it will be close, but it won't be official by any means.

Stay with us, though, because I promise it will be interesting.