Elite analysis – Super Sunday in Palatka

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Elite analysis – Super Sunday in Palatka

In a Bassmaster column two weeks ago, Chris Zaldain cited a famous Mike Tyson quotation: “Everyone has a plan, till they get punched in the mouth.”T

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In a Bassmaster column two weeks ago, Chris Zaldain cited a famous Mike Tyson quotation: “Everyone has a plan, till they get punched in the mouth.”

Today, John Crews was Buster Douglas. He worked a four-part plan to perfection, weathering every attack that came his way.

John Cox punched him in the chin on Saturday, and he took one in the solar plexus from Old Bob Downey today, but no one could fell the little giant.

The veteran pro from Virginia was so efficient and so workmanlike about the process that it almost seemed more like a day of punching the clock than a heavyweight title bout, but now he’s holding the belt until someone takes it away.

Here are some questions, notes and tidbits that stood out for me today:

A tale of two shortfalls – Both Downey and Cox had one day when they failed to bring in at least 10 pounds, as opposed to Crews, who weighed in at least 13 pounds every day. Their 2nd and 4th place finishers’ shortcomings were quite different, though. Cox had five for 9-06 on Day 1. He could have culled, but he couldn’t have weighed in any more fish. Meanwhile, Downey had one for 6-11 on Day 2. That left four slots free on his dance card. Filling one or two of them with even bare keepers would have put him over the top. We talk all the time about chasing big fish, but it’s very hard to win a blue trophy or an AOY title without catching a limit every day.

Downey’s Bite – For a short stretch just before 9 a.m., Downey put on a clinic with his Storm Arashi Vibe. The size and frequency of the fish was impressive, the type of thing that tournament anglers’ dreams are made of, but what really impressed me was how well they ate it. If he doesn’t already have one, the man needs a pliers sponsor because every bass seemed to have the lure in the back of their throats. That has to be a confidence-builder – when you’re not just catching them but can be credibly convinced that you have the one tool they want to destroy more than anything else.

Safety in numbers – Despite the fact that Downey did his heavyweight damage with a single lure, he had over a dozen rods on the front deck of his boat.

Like Falcon – The tournament performance that Downey’s most reminded me of was that of Terry Scroggins in the the legendary 2008 Elite Series event on Falcon Lake. Bear with me as I recount some of the details: At that tournament, the late Aaron Martens led for the first three days of competition in a slugfest where all of the Top 12 ended up with over 100 pounds. Heading into Day 4, Scroggins was in 12th place, but he went on a late afternoon run similar to the one that Downey enjoyed this morning, putting together a 44-4 limit (second best in B.A.S.S. history). Alas, he jumped way up in the standings, but fell just short, finishing 2nd. Unlike this week, the leader for Days 1-3 did not win that tournament – Martens caught “only” 19 pounds the last day and fell out of the top spot. Paul Elias, with 37 pounds on Day 4, claimed the victory and the record, beating Scroggins by 4 ounces. Both Downey and Scroggins had their worst day (by approximately four pounds in each case) on Day 2.

What happened to the spinnerbait? – In past St. Johns events, we’ve seen a spinnerbait play a hefty role, including Rick Clunn’s Trickster and a beast thrown by Mark Menendez so garish that fish struck not because they wanted to eat it, but rather because they were afraid it would reproduce. In this tournament we saw plenty of vibrating jigs, swim jigs and jerkbaits, but the old safety pin was in comparatively short supply. Crews did report catching one key fish on it today.

You have to bring them to weigh-in – After catching a solid keeper this morning, Micah Frazier went to dunk it in the water, assumedly to clean it off, before placing it in his livewell. Like the Bass LIVE hosts, I thought he was preparing to release the fish and may have audibly gasped. Even knowing his intentions now, I’m not sure I’d have the guts to do what he did – ever since Jim Bitter’s issues at the James River, I’ve been a stickler for unhooking and measuring fish in the bottom of the boat.

Quote of the day (Forward Facing Edition) – John Crews: “There’s a Shamu over here next to these trees.”

Fishing term of the day – “Pinch Point”

Steel trap prediction – The double-digit bass the eluded the pros this week will show up at the Harris Chain, likely more than one of them.

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