By BassFan Staff

On the heels of his 37 1/2-pound stringer on day 2 of the St. Johns River Bassmaster Elite Series, Chris Lane called his 19 1/2-pound haul on day 3 a "back to reality" scenario. The bottom line, however, is that it added another 3 pounds to his lead.

With a 75-13 total, the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champion will enter the final day with a superb chance to claim his second regular-season victory in three outings (he won the 2013 finale at the Detroit River). No competitor will be within a dozen pounds of him when the boats are launched.

Veteran Davy Hite is closest after catching a day-best 24-13 bag to bump his total to 63-05. Next is another long-time stalwart, Mark Davis, who'll be gunning for his third consecutive regular-season Top-3 placement after a 16-13 sack that gave him a 61-07 aggregate.

Keith Combs moved up three places to 4th today with a 17-11 bag for a 60-09 total. Alton Jones, the 2012 winner at the St. Johns, rounded out the Top 5 with 59-04 after catching 19 1/2 pounds today.

Here are the totals for the 12 competitors who advanced to the final day, with red numbers in parentheses showing their deficit margins:

1. Chris Lane: 75-13
2. Davy Hite: 63-05 (12-08)
3. Mark Davis: 61-07 (14-06)
4. Keith Combs: 60-09 (15-04)
5. Alton Jones: 59-04 (16-09)
6. Randy Howell: 58-14 (16-15)
7. Justin Lucas: 57-15 (17-14)
8. Paul Elias: 57-07 (18-06)
9. Dean Rojas: 54-15 (20-14)
10. Todd Faircloth: 54-13 (21-00)
11. Jason Williamson: 54-07 (21-06)
12. David Walker: 54-03 (21-10)

The anglers at the top of the leaderboard are doing at least as much conventional fishing as sight-fishing, with Lane and Combs going the conventional route exclusively. Conditions for looking got worse as the day wore on as a steady wind blew in excess of 15 mph at times and muddied up the shallows in a lot of places.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Davy Hite moved back into 2nd place with a day-best 24-13 stringer.

There were only three changes among the Top 12 as Faircloth (21-00 today), Williamson (19-14) and Walker (19-11) moved in at the bottom of the list. They supplanted Greg Hackney (6th to 16th, 8-09), Mike Kernan (9th to 17th, 13-01) and Takahiro Omori (12th to 34th, 6-15).

The final-day forecast calls for a mix of sun and clouds, and the wind should again reach double-digits.

Lane was Restless

> Day 3: 5, 19-09 (15, 75-13)

Lane said he got little sleep during the night following his stellar day 2.

"I kept waking up about every 15 minutes," he said. "I kept dreaming of lily pads shaking and a 7-pounder coming out of them with my bait in its mouth."

He followed up the fitful night with a slow morning on the water, but his situation improved dramatically at about 10:30 when he stuffed a 9 1/2-pounder into his livewell.

"Mentally, that settled me down," he said. "I'd just lost a 3- or 4-pounder and it was my own fault. I wasn't getting a lot of bites and when that fish engulfed the bait, I wasn't ready.

"I had some missed opportunities and I wasn't focused like I was yesterday, but yesterday the fish kind of helped me stay focused. My nerves were going and it was a weird morning and I just wasn't in the zone. But I'll get some sleep tonight and come tomorrow, I'll go out and do the best I can to win this thing. I'm not going to worry about what anybody else is doing."

His secondary goal is cracking the century barrier, which is a mark he's never achieved. He'll need a little more than 24 pounds to do it.

"I don't care if I catch two (10-pounders) and three 2s or all 5s, I'll take it however I can get it. But at the same time, I'd much rather have $100,000 and the Classic locked up than 100 pounds.

"If I get those and only have 90 pounds, that'll be okay."

2nd: Hite Staying Patient

> Day 3: 5, 24-13 (15, 63-05)

Hite's lengthy career ledger contains few Florida highlights, but he's approached the start of this campaign with a different mindset and it's paid off handsomely. His sack today was the biggest in the field and marked the second time in the event he's topped 24 pounds.

"I'm just being patient and not running around at 100 miles an hour," he said. "The good Florida fishermen are people who fish slow and methodically, and I've been doing that all week."

He's employing a mix of sight-fishing and conventional casting. He boated 20 keepers on day 3, including an 8-pounder.

"I did lose a few that I didn't see, so I don't know if they would've helped. A couple of them felt really good.

"(Day 2) was the day when I fell behind. I lost a 6 1/2-pounder with 5 minutes left in the day and I had to weigh one that wasn't quite 2."

He has a lot of ground to make up on Lane, but hasn't ruled out a shot at victory.

"I feel like I could catch a 30-pound bag tomorrow I'm not saying I'm going to, but it could happen. I've caught fish several different ways and I've had a 10-pounder (on day 1) and an 8, so I'd need a couple of those.

"(Lane) probably isn't going to stub his toe, but you never know what can happen."

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Mark Davis' bag was almost 10 pounds lighter than the one he caught on day 2, but he moved up one position in the standings.

3rd: Davis Missed some Chances

> Day 3: 5, 16-13 (15, 61-07)

Davis said the wind was somewhat of a hindering factor for him today, but he also missed some opportunities.

"I lost one at the boat that was 7 or 8 pounds," he said. "I don't know why it came off that fish was caught. Then I lost another one about 5 that I just plain missed. You can't do that when you're not getting many opportunities."

His goal for tomorrow is to extend his run of Top-3 finishes.

"Barring some kind of miracle, it feels like we're fishing for 2nd place. With the wind supposed to blow again tomorrow, I don't know what that'll hold or me.

"We'll just have to go out and do the best that we can do."

4th: Mud Slowed Combs

> Day 3: 5, 17-11 (15, 60-09)

Combs' bag was more than 10 pounds lighter than his day-1 haul, but he nonetheless gained four places in the standings. He fished for an hour and a half without a bite today before he discovered there was an issue with his primary area.

"The wind was blowing really hard this morning, but I really didn't think too much of it at first," he said. "I got to my spot, which is out on kind of a point, and started fishing, and I did notice that the visibility was pretty poor. Then once it got light enough, I could see that the water was really muddy.

"I moved down the bank and caught some, but the mud eventually caught up with me and trashed that water, too. In 30 minutes, I caught everything I (weighed). I should've left, but the wind stopped and I thought it was going to clear up. It never did."

He's been sharing the place with five other competitors, but three of them went by the wayside today.

"It should be a lot better tomorrow if it clears up. It's a pretty big area, but there's some key little stops. If I'd had it to myself yesterday, I know I could've cracked 40 (pounds) out of there."

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Keith Combs fished for an hour and a half today before he realized how muddy his primary area had become.

He's targeting dollar pads and eelgrass. He went through 10 keepers today, the biggest of which was a 5-pounder.

"I'm just fishing, I'm not looking, but the sun really helps me to hit the right holes," he said.

5th: Jones not Looking

> Day 3: 5, 19-08 (15, 59-04)

Jones is one of the game's premier sight-fishermen and he caught his entire bag that way on day 1, but hasn't done it since.

"I'm just fishing pads and grass," he said. "I'm using a couple different baits, but I'm catching the majority of them on the YUM Dinger that I like to throw so much down here."

He caught about 25 keepers today, down from 40 on day 2. His biggest was a 5 1/2-pounder.

"The problem today was the wind. I was smoking them until 10:30, but then it muddied up my main area. It was white-capping on (Lake George) and when you're fishing in a foot and a half of water, it silts up pretty good."

16th: Hackney's Area Depleted

> Day 3: 5, 8-09 (15, 52-11)

Hackney caught 20-plus-pound bags on each of the first 2 days from a place he had all to himself. He basically ran out of fish midway through day 2, however, and discovered other competitors on just about all of his backup areas today.

"I had some other places that were similar that I found in practice I tried to pick areas where the water was dirty because that was keeping the sight-fishermen away," he said. "I rolled into my first place today and started fishing and here comes three guys who were already in the Top 12. I went to my next area and about four guys were already in there.

"I depleted my own area, and then everybody else was depleting my other areas. That's just one of those deals, though, and I don't have any complaints. I just didn't move quick enough."

All of the fish he caught throughout the event came off beds some that he looked at beforehand and others that he didn't. He was more concerned with seeing beds than fish.

"The big key was the (beds) that glowed they always had a fish on them, either a male or a pair. The 7-pounder I caught (on day 2), over a 2-day period, I got her to bite on three different beds over a 15-yard stretch.

"Even if I couldn't see a fish, I'd make multiple casts to every bed I saw."

He did the bulk of his work with a Strike King Cut-R Worm and a Strike King Shim-E Stick.

Notable

> Day 3 stats 50 anglers, 46 limits, 2 fours, 1 three, 1 two.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., March 23 Mostly Sunny - 82/60
- Wind: From the WSW at 11 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 75-13 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 37-09 -- Day 3: 5, 19-09

2. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, SC -- 15, 63-05 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 24-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-07 -- Day 3: 5, 24-13

3. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 15, 61-07 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 18-03 -- Day 2: 5, 26-07 -- Day 3: 5, 16-13

4. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 60-09 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 14-12 -- Day 2: 5, 28-02 -- Day 3: 5, 17-11

5. Alton Jones -- Lorena, TX -- 15, 59-04 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 18-01 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11 -- Day 3: 5, 19-08

6. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 15, 58-14 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 27-03 -- Day 2: 5, 20-02 -- Day 3: 5, 11-09

7. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 57-15 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 19-12 -- Day 2: 5, 24-15 -- Day 3: 5, 13-04

8. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 15, 57-07 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 19-05 -- Day 2: 5, 24-14 -- Day 3: 5, 13-04

9. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 15, 54-15 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 17-15 -- Day 2: 5, 19-07 -- Day 3: 5, 17-09

10. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 15, 54-13 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 12-11 -- Day 2: 5, 21-02 -- Day 3: 5, 21-00

11. Jason Williamson -- Aiken, SC -- 15, 54-07 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 17-14 -- Day 2: 5, 16-11 -- Day 3: 5, 19-14

12. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 15, 54-03 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 14-07 -- Day 2: 5, 20-01 -- Day 3: 5, 19-11

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 4.

13. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, FL -- 15, 54-02 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-02 -- Day 2: 5, 15-10 -- Day 3: 5, 20-06

14. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 15, 53-11 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-13 -- Day 2: 5, 20-00 -- Day 3: 5, 18-14

15. Jacob Powroznik -- Port Haywood, VA -- 15, 53-00 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-01 -- Day 2: 5, 17-13 -- Day 3: 5, 20-02

16. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 52-11 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-02 -- Day 2: 5, 24-00 -- Day 3: 5, 08-09

17. Mike Kernan -- Wylie, TX -- 15, 52-01 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-14 -- Day 2: 5, 18-02 -- Day 3: 5, 13-01

18. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 15, 51-11 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-15 -- Day 2: 5, 16-04 -- Day 3: 5, 22-08

19. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 15, 51-00 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-10 -- Day 2: 5, 13-12 -- Day 3: 5, 20-10

20. Chad Morgenthaler -- Coulterville, IL -- 15, 50-09 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-01 -- Day 3: 5, 21-05

21. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 15, 50-04 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-03 -- Day 2: 5, 18-02 -- Day 3: 5, 15-15

22. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 15, 49-03 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-07 -- Day 2: 5, 21-15 -- Day 3: 5, 15-13

23. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 15, 48-13 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 09-10 -- Day 2: 5, 20-11 -- Day 3: 5, 18-08

24. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 15, 48-07 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-09 -- Day 2: 5, 11-00 -- Day 3: 5, 16-14

25. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 15, 47-14 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-06 -- Day 2: 5, 10-01 -- Day 3: 5, 15-07

26. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 15, 47-08 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-10 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10 -- Day 3: 5, 14-04

27. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 15, 45-14 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-05 -- Day 2: 5, 14-09 -- Day 3: 5, 17-00

28. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 15, 45-08 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 15-09 -- Day 3: 5, 11-00

29. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 15, 45-07 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-06 -- Day 2: 5, 10-14 -- Day 3: 5, 13-03

30. Grant Goldbeck -- Boerne, TX -- 15, 44-11 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-02 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 13-10

31. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 15, 44-09 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-11 -- Day 2: 5, 14-03 -- Day 3: 5, 15-11

32. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 13, 44-08 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 4, 08-05 -- Day 2: 5, 22-03 -- Day 3: 4, 14-00

33. Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, MI -- 15, 44-03 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-11 -- Day 2: 5, 17-05 -- Day 3: 5, 15-03

34. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 15, 44-02 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-01 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02 -- Day 3: 5, 06-15

35. Pete Ponds -- Madison, MS -- 15, 43-11 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 10-07 -- Day 2: 5, 21-07 -- Day 3: 5, 11-13

36. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 15, 43-07 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-01 -- Day 2: 5, 18-10 -- Day 3: 5, 10-12

37. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 15, 43-04 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-15 -- Day 2: 5, 14-08 -- Day 3: 5, 11-13

38. Casey Scanlon -- Shawnee Mission, KS -- 15, 42-12 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-09 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15 -- Day 3: 5, 12-04

39. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 15, 42-03 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 24-01 -- Day 2: 5, 10-10 -- Day 3: 5, 07-08

40. John Murray -- Phoenix, AZ -- 15, 42-01 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-13 -- Day 2: 5, 09-07 -- Day 3: 5, 11-13

41. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 15, 40-12 -- 60 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-04 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00 -- Day 3: 5, 10-08

42. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 13, 40-03 -- 59 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-03 -- Day 2: 5, 20-05 -- Day 3: 3, 07-11

43. Tim Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 15, 40-01 -- 58 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-11 -- Day 2: 5, 15-07 -- Day 3: 5, 06-15

44. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 15, 40-00 -- 57 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-06 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13 -- Day 3: 5, 09-13

45. Kenyon Hill -- Norman, OK -- 15, 39-11 -- 56 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-04 -- Day 3: 5, 09-01

46. Jamie Horton -- Centerville, AL -- 15, 39-06 -- 55 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-09 -- Day 2: 5, 13-01 -- Day 3: 5, 08-12

47. Jared Miller -- Norman, OK -- 14, 39-02 -- 54 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-11 -- Day 2: 5, 21-01 -- Day 3: 4, 03-06

48. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 15, 38-12 -- 53 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-10 -- Day 3: 5, 08-12

49. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 15, 37-10 -- 52 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-13 -- Day 2: 5, 16-04 -- Day 3: 5, 07-09

50. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 12, 34-13 -- 51 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-05 -- Day 2: 5, 10-15 -- Day 3: 2, 03-09