To Cut or Not to Cut

By Bruce Callis

August 7,2017

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The Bassmaster Elite at Champlain Presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels is in the books. The Elite Pros rolled into their 8th event this year, just 3 days after completing stop number seven down the road at the St. Lawrence River. And what an event this tournament turned into. Day 1 was canceled due to high winds, causing day 2 to become day 1 and day 3 to become day 2. It also set up Championship Sunday to become the rare occasion where 50 anglers qualified to fish the final day. If it had not of happened that the first cut became the final cut, Aaron Martens would have been left watching onshore instead of becoming the winner.
Day 1 saw the winds pick up to much and B.A.S.S. decided that boater and spectator safety was too important and made the call to cancel the days fishing. This left the anglers with that rare day to relax and plan, or is it panic and rework everything? So on Day 2 that was now day 1 of the tournament, Todd Faircloth took the lead with an impressive bag of 21 lb 1 oz. Alton Jones came in 2nd, just 6 ounces out of first place. Jeff Kriet found himself sitting in 3rd place, 13 ounces back of the leader. Brandon Lester sat in 4th and Jason Christie rounded out the top five. There was also a shortage of marshals for the event, so 30 to 35 anglers went out with no official in their boat for day 1 and 2. This also meant that the Live updates that we watch closely so that we have an idea of who might be leading, did not have any reports from their boats.
On day 2, the boats came roaring out to start the day, but for 14th place Chris Lane, he sat still in the penalty box, waiting for the second flight to leave. It seems that Chris had made a mistake and blew through a bridge and its no wake zone. While this may sound terrible, it is also just, and the Elite anglers believe in it. The alternative would be the lost of the days catch, which seems excessive for a minor infraction. Blowing through the no wake zone is a big issue, but not so big to warrant losing the day’s catch. While it didn’t hurt him, it didn’t help either.
Day 2 found Jacob Wheeler moving up to take the lead with 38 lb 8 oz, and a 1 pound lead over 2nd place Seth Feider. Steve Kennedy moved into 3rd with Matt Lee and Brandon Lester dropping one spot to 5th place.
Championship Sunday found anglers fishing for the win that otherwise may not have had the opportunity. BASS cuts down roughly to 1/3 the field for the 3rd day and then to the top 1/4 for Championship Sunday. Jacob Wheeler went out with the lead and while BASS makes sure every angler has the correct license for the tournament, it doesn’t mean that the local authorities will not stop them and make sure, and Jacob had it happen to him by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. But the big story was Aaron Martens, who caught an impressive 23 lb 5 oz bag of bass and overcame a 3 lb 1 oz deficit to win. No one thought anyone could make up that much weight, including Aaron. He edged out 2nd place finisher Seth Feider by just 14 ounces. Brandon Palaniuk finished 3rd and Jacob Wheeler ended up in 4th place. Kelly Jaye rounded out the top five.
Which leads to the question, why does BASS not make the championship cut bigger? If you cut the field by roughly 1/3 to get the 3rd day field, why do you change it to 1/4 for Championship Sunday? Why not the Top 15, with 16.67 being the 1/3 percentage? I can tell you that Brandon doesn’t think it should be changed. But wouldn’t it be fair to keep the cut at the same rate as the other cuts? Think how this might have changed things for those anglers who missed the cut by 1 ounce. Or worse, lost out by a tie breaker. Or am I just wrong?


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