Limiting the Crowds By Bruce Callis

June 9th 2017

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Stop number Six on the Elite schedule,The GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Dardanelle presented by Econo Lodge from Russellville, Arkansas is in the books and what a thrilling ending to be sure. Muddy and high water made for some tough fishing conditions. Debris made travel difficult and in some cases, even navigation markers were under water. But the boats still roared up and down the lake in search of the big bag limit. And Steve Kennedy made the most of his last day to come from behind for the victory.
On Friday, Day 1, Kevin VanDam took the early lead with a solid 19 lb 3 oz limit and a 7 ounce lead over Ott Defoe. Kennedy held onto 9th place just 2 lbs 9 ozs back. The first day only saw 80 anglers able to catch a full limit, 2 anglers had one keeper bass for the day, and 2 anglers did not manage to land a keeper bass.
Day 2 ended with Mark Davis coming from 25th place to take the lead over Kevin by almost 2 pounds with an impressive 19 lb 4 oz limit. Kennedy moved up to 4th place and Dean Rojas moved from 7th to 5th place. Jamie Hartman moved up from 5th to hold down 3rd place. Only 54 anglers managed to catch a limit for both day and only one angler did not catch a single legal bass.
What is normally Championship Sunday was actually day 3 for this event. The top 50 anglers made their way out to try to move into the top 12 and fish one more day.Mark Davis held on tightly to the lead, but found himself only 9 ozs ahead of Jamie Hartman who moved up to 2nd place. Kevin slipped to 7th and Kennedy moved up one spot to hold onto 3rd place setting up a tight Championship finish.
With the crowds gone and the lake basically to themselves, the top 12 launched out in search of victory on Championship Monday. For those who were able to tune in to the Bass Live feed, they were treated to some exciting action. Only 6 anglers were able to fill their livewell in the tough conditions. Conditions had changed again and the bite had changed. Jamie Hartman slipped from 2nd with a small 4 fish limit of 7 lbs 5 ounces. VanDam moved up to t
3rd with a nice limit weighing 17 pounds, but 3 lbs 1 oz out of winning. As those who saw on the Live feed, Steve Kennedy made a great upgrade with a solid kicker, but only unofficially led by a few ounces when the live feed ended setting up the exciting weigh-in. Mark Davis tried to hold on to the lead but could only manage a limit of 13 lbs 10 ozs, slipping to 2nd place, missing out on a victory by just 10 ounces.
The real story was what we all missed, people. By scheduling the event for Friday through Monday, BASS virtually ensured that the crowds would be thin. They made sure the anglers would not have to contend with boaters following them around from spot to spot. We expect it when something happens to force cancellation of a fishing day, but who plans a Championship for a Monday unless its a made for television event? Is this just another experiment of something new for next year? I sure hope it isn’t something they plan to continue. Or am I the only one?

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