By BassFan Staff

The timing's different and the lake level is much higher than when he won there in 2011, but it seems like there's no way to stop Dean Rojas at Toledo Bend.

Rojas sacked 17-14 today, including a 7-02 kicker, to run his 3-day total to 62-11 and take over the lead with one day on the water remaining. Tomorrow, the Arizona pro will leave the dock seeking to close out his third Elite Series victory and fifth career B.A.S.S. win.

He'll have to hold off a group of competitors that is seemingly one hookset away from making up a lot of ground in a hurry on a lake that has churned out nearly 60 double-digit bass in the last year. Every angler in the Top 12 has caught at least one 20-pound bag so far and some have caught two, so the potential is there for pretty much anyone among the finalists to hoist the trophy Sunday afternoon. From Rojas to Casey Ashley in 12th, the gap is just 8-04.

"I don't have a number in mind because I don't know what I can catch tomorrow," Rojas said when asked what he thinks he needs to win on Sunday. "If the opportunities present themselves, I can catch 25 (pounds). If not, I'll do the best with what I've got. If it's meant to happen, it'll happen."

Day-2 leader Jacob Powroznik will take off in 2nd on Sunday after his weight today fell off by more than half. He averaged better than 24 pounds through 2 days, but weighed just 11-13 today to stay within reach of the lead with 60-01.

Jared Lintner came into this week 2nd in Angler of the Year (AOY) points. He made his second straight 12-cut in 3rd thanks to a 17-08 bag that pushed his total to 59-12. Randall Tharp couldn't match his 24-pound effort from day 2, but his 17-04 was strong enough to earn him another day on the water. He's 4th with 58-06.

Todd Faircloth saw his weight drop off for the second straight day, but he moved up two places to 5th with 57-04 after catching 16-09 today.

Here's a look at the 12 anglers who qualified for the final day of competition, with the deficit margin from Rojas indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Dean Rojas: 62-11
2. Jacob Powroznik: 60-01 (2-10)
3. Jared Lintner: 59-12 (2-15)
4. Randall Tharp: 58-06 (4-05)
5. Todd Faircloth: 57-04 (5-07)
6. Skeet Reese: 56-10 (6-01)
7. Mark Davis: 56-05 (6-06)
8. Chris Zaldain: 56-05 (6-06)
9. Cliff Crochet: 55-15 (6-12)
10. Chad Morgenthaler: 55-08 (7-04)
11. Jonathon VanDam: 54-15 (7-13)
12. Casey Ashley: 54-07 (8-04)

Mark Davis, who held a commanding lead in the AOY race before the event, made his fifth straight 12-cut in 7th place. He caught 15-14 and has 56-05 overall. Louisiana native Cliff Crochet caught 20-06 today, his second 20-pound stringer of the week, and jumped five spots to 9th while Jonathon VanDam moved up 11 places to make the cut in 11th behind a 20-14 stringer, giving him 54-15.

Chad Morgenthaler slipped from 3rd to 10th with an 11-12 bag. Rick Clunn, who'd been in the Top 10 each of the first 2 days, weighed in four for 6-13 and fell from 9th to 25th. Randy Howell caught 10-14 today and dropped from 11th to 23rd.

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

Rojas plans on going back to his sight-fishing program on the final day.

The sight-fishing bite has remained strong as more fish continue to move into the shallows. The flipping bite in the grass has been productive as well. The one question mark tomorrow morning will be the early shad spawn bite that has gotten some guys off to a good start.

The lake was teeming with activity today, especially tournament boats, which made it somewhat challenging for the pros to effectively approach or fish certain areas. The clear, mostly calm conditions are expected to hang around for one more day as temperatures will again climb into the 80s with a light, variable breeze.

7-Pounder Saved Day for Rojas

> Day 3: 5, 17-14 (15, 62-11)

Rojas admits his comfort level is much different at Toledo Bend than at many other lakes he's competed at. While it's a massive body of water, he says the first decision is pretty simple.

"You either go north or south," he said. "When I won here in 2001, I went north. In 2011, I went south. It's whatever the lake calls for. This week, I've checked both and it's a deal where I can figure out pretty quickly where I need to be at."

This week, he's found quality bites around the south end, fishing the bank and picking off bedding fish, with a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog and WarMouth.

His fortunes today turned on a 7-pounder on bed that initially wasn't interested in biting.

"It was around 10:30 when I first spotted her. I came over the top of her and I think I must've spooked her and the male," he said. "I put my Power-Poles down and started pitching to them and the male wouldn't do anything. The female would come up to the boat and look at me and then wander around and every time I'd throw up there, they didn't want anything to do with it, so I left."

He came back 45 minutes later, but this time positioned his boat a good distance away so as not to spook them again.

"I pitched up toward where I thought she was and didn't get a reaction," he added. "Then I pitched at the male and I couldn't see anything because I was so far away and I picked up my line and I could feel him so I set the hook and got him in the boat, but as I was reeling in I could see her go over toward the bed. I released the male and threw back up toward the bed. When I picked my line up the second time, it started heading out toward the middle of the cove so I set the hook as hard as I could and got her. That was the game-changer for me. Without that fish, I wouldn't have had what I had today."

His goal tomorrow is simple: "I need to find one or two more like that to put this thing away," he said.

He's held the lead before entering the final day and came away empty-handed, and he's closed out wins before. He said leading or chasing doesn't make a difference to him.

"I've put myself in a position to win," he said. "I've done everything I can to do that. I'm going to just keep an open mind and maybe make a couple changes as far as bait selections, but I'll have the same game plan.

"I've done everything I can to this point to win. I just need to execute."

2nd: Morning Bite Fizzled on Powroznik

> Day 3: 5, 11-13 (15, 60-01)

Powroznik had real strong mornings each of the first 2 days, but today the early jerkbait bite just wasn't there and he scratched out nearly 12 pounds to stay in the hunt.

"I'm not sure what the deal was today, but I'm going to put my head down and try to get it done tomorrow," he said. "I'm going to change some areas tomorrow and I have a good idea what I'm going to do first thing in the morning. After that, I'm just going to go fishing and if it's meant to be, it's meant to be."

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

Jacob Powroznik will be looking for his first tour-level win on Sunday.

A win would mean a lot to him after making the move from the FLW Tour where he finished in the Top 3 in AOY points on three separate occasions.

"It would mean everything to me," he said. "I've come real close a couple times, but never seem to be able to close the deal. I'm one of those guys that in every tournament I fish, I don't go out and fish for 50th. I always fish to win and I'm going out tomorrow to do that."

He lost a decent fish on his jerkbait this morning that he thinks would've helped him.

"I had it on for about 10 seconds and I never was able to move it," he said. "It hit me and ducked into the grass. It could've been a 2-pounder, but it felt pretty good."

His sight-fishing plan got a bit derailed today when a pocket where he had marked a few big ones suddenly filled with smoke from a nearby controlled fire. He said the smoke got so thick, he couldn't see the water in front his boat and he eventually left.

"That's just part of fishing, those things are going to happen," he said. "I have to stay focused and get after them tomorrow."

3rd: Lintner Playing it Cool

> Day 3: 5, 17-08 (15, 59-12)

Lintner isn't going to get stressed out entering the final day 3 pounds behind Rojas. He knows the fish to win are in the area he's fishing.

"I'm not real nervous about anything," he said. "If it's meant to be, I'll get the right bites. Today was such a grind. I still don't know how I weighed 17 1/2. I had so few bites. At one point, I had three 14-inchers in the boat and none of them weighed 2 pounds."

He said the local boat traffic posed a bit of a challenge, but he managed to work around it. He figures he only had seven keeper bites all day.

"Today I expanded and tried to find more of the right stuff and I caught a 5 where I hadn't even pre-fished or fished during tournament," he said. "I thought the area was going to really be good, but I only caught two other little ones and the right stuff disappeared. I know there are still some big ones around. It's whether I make the right flip at the right time. That's what it's coming down to.

"Anybody can win this deal. Whoever has a good day tomorrow and gets the right bites will win. There are so many 5- to 12-pound fish in this lake, it's scary and the guy who gets fortunate will win. All I'm going to do is not change how I'm fishing. I'm not going to do anything dramatic. If it's meant to be, I'll catch them. The worst I can is finish 12th."

4th: Tharp Set for 'Shootout'

> Day 3: 5, 17-04 (15, 58-06)

After missing the money in his last two events (Beaver Lake FLW Tour and Table Rock Elite Series), Tharp is pumped to have a shot at winning tomorrow.

"Those last two tournaments were a disappointment and I'm still pretty ticked at myself for several things I did," he said. "If you look back over my career, though, every time I've had a bad one or two events, I've come back with a good one. I have a chance to win tomorrow. I'm not out of it. I was 8 pounds back yesterday. Now I'm 4 pounds out and I really think there's a bigger stringer out there than what we've caught.

"There are some really good fishermen in (the Top12). A lot of the guys have proven they know how to win. It's going to be a shootout. Dean's the one with the target on his back and we're all coming for him."

He was hoping to continue the momentum he built with a 24-pound bag on day 2, but the flurries didn't happen for him again. He also lost one big fish today that would've definitely helped.

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

Randall Tharp cut his deficit to the leader in half today and he hopes to close the gap entirely tomorrow.

"The fishing pressure today was incredible and the fish didn't bite," he said. "The shad spawn that had been going on for the first hour they'd be erupting everywhere it was nonexistent today. I just didn't feel it today. At about 1 o'clock, I moved to an area I found yesterday and caught three of my five weigh fish there. That was my only little flurry of the day.

"It's a place that's loaded with 3-pounders. It's just a spawning cove with several points at the mouth. It takes me about 45 minutes to fish it and it's a key area I may visit more than once tomorrow."

5th: Faircloth Needs More Kickers

> Day 3: 5, 16-09 (15, 57-04)

Faircloth has caught a kicker-quality fish each day of the event, but he knows he might need multiple big bites tomorrow to track down Rojas and challenge for his fifth career Elite Series title.

"I'm definitely around some big ones. I'm just not getting many bites," he said. "I caught an 8 on Thursday, a 7-07 yesterday and a 6-something today. If I can get three of those tomorrow and two other nice ones to go with them, I feel like I'll definitely have a shot at it."

He's been focused on offshore grass in 4 to 8 feet, where the fish seem to be coming after they finish spawning. He attempted to expand on a couple other things today, but isn't sure he can match or beat the quality he's been catching in vegetation.

"I didn't learn anything today other than the fact that what I've been doing has been working the best," he said. "I have a couple ideas that I might try that are in the back of my head and a couple spots I haven't looked at. It all depends on the start. If my day starts off good, it opens it up for a decision like that."

22nd: Hite Stayed in the Grass

> Day 3: 5, 14-03 (15, 48-05)

Brett Hite posted his best finish since winning at Lake Seminole in March and has now cashed checks in six of eight events this season.

This week, he could've used a little of the wind from practice during the tournament as he had good success catching post-spawners that were stopping on secondary points or main-lake points with grass on them.

"I had a lot of success with ChatterBaits, swim jigs, topwaters and a dropshot," he said. "Today, I caught them on all four baits. I was just fishing whatever the conditions dictated. I was looking for a little more wind, but didn't get much in that way."

"I figured I was on the fish to maybe have low 20s on a good day and 14 or 15 on a bad day. Today, I caught them early in a couple pockets where the shad were spawning. Those conditions went away for me and I struggled in the afternoon, but luckily I had some decent bites."

Notable

> Day 3 stats 50 anglers, 45 limits, 5 fours.

> Brent Chapman, the 2012 winner at Toledo Bend, notched a 27th-place finish this week, a steady result as the season hits the halfway point. To read his tournament recap in BassFan's ProView Report, click here.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., May 4 Clear 85/68
- Wind: From the SW at 5 to 10 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 15, 62-11 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 19-14 -- Day 2: 5, 24-15 -- Day 3: 5, 17-14

2. Jacob Powroznik -- Port Haywood, VA -- 15, 60-01 -- 99 -- $500
Day 1: 5, 24-14 -- Day 2: 5, 23-06 -- Day 3: 5, 11-13

3. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 15, 59-12 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 25-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13 -- Day 3: 5, 17-08

4. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, FL -- 15, 58-06 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 16-05 -- Day 2: 5, 24-13 -- Day 3: 5, 17-04

5. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 15, 57-04 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 21-14 -- Day 2: 5, 18-13 -- Day 3: 5, 16-09

6. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 15, 56-10 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 17-07 -- Day 2: 5, 23-14 -- Day 3: 5, 15-05

7. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 15, 56-05 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 17-14 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09 -- Day 3: 5, 15-14

8. Chris Zaldain -- San Jose, CA -- 15, 56-05 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 22-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15 -- Day 3: 5, 18-00

9. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 15, 55-15 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 21-10 -- Day 2: 5, 13-15 -- Day 3: 5, 20-06

10. Chad Morgenthaler -- Coulterville, IL -- 15, 55-08 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 24-13 -- Day 3: 5, 11-12

11. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 54-15 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 14-07 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10 -- Day 3: 5, 20-14

12. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 15, 54-07 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 15-06 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11 -- Day 3: 5, 17-06

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

13. Glenn Browne -- Ocala, FL -- 15, 50-15 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 13-15 -- Day 3: 5, 21-00

14. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 15, 50-08 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-14 -- Day 3: 5, 13-13

15. Mike Kernan -- Wylie, TX -- 15, 50-03 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-01 -- Day 2: 5, 12-13 -- Day 3: 5, 15-05

16. Hank Cherry Jr -- Maiden, NC -- 15, 49-15 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-07 -- Day 2: 5, 19-08 -- Day 3: 5, 15-00

17. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 15, 49-10 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-09 -- Day 2: 5, 14-05 -- Day 3: 5, 19-12

18. Alton Jones -- Lorena, TX -- 15, 49-08 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-03 -- Day 2: 5, 14-06 -- Day 3: 5, 15-15

19. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 49-00 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-05 -- Day 2: 5, 13-13 -- Day 3: 5, 17-14

20. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 48-14 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-04 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07 -- Day 3: 5, 18-03

21. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 15, 48-06 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 09-13 -- Day 2: 5, 21-08 -- Day 3: 5, 17-01

22. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 15, 48-05 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-09 -- Day 2: 5, 16-09 -- Day 3: 5, 14-03

23. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 15, 48-01 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-04 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 10-14

24. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, GA -- 14, 47-06 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 25-00 -- Day 2: 4, 07-11 -- Day 3: 5, 14-11

25. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 14, 47-04 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-02 -- Day 2: 5, 18-05 -- Day 3: 4, 06-13

26. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 15, 46-08 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-05 -- Day 2: 5, 11-02 -- Day 3: 5, 15-01

27. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 15, 46-08 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-06 -- Day 2: 5, 16-12 -- Day 3: 5, 13-06

28. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 15, 46-02 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-05 -- Day 2: 5, 13-13 -- Day 3: 5, 11-00

29. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 15, 46-01 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-13 -- Day 2: 5, 16-14 -- Day 3: 5, 16-06

30. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 15, 46-00 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-09 -- Day 2: 5, 15-13 -- Day 3: 5, 15-10

31. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 15, 45-13 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-14 -- Day 2: 5, 13-07 -- Day 3: 5, 15-08

32. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 15, 45-12 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-00 -- Day 2: 5, 16-05 -- Day 3: 5, 11-07

33. Chad Pipkens -- Holt, MI -- 15, 44-15 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-08 -- Day 2: 5, 13-09 -- Day 3: 5, 10-14

34. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 44-10 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-05 -- Day 2: 5, 12-15 -- Day 3: 5, 14-06

35. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 15, 44-05 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-04 -- Day 2: 5, 14-05 -- Day 3: 5, 10-12

36. Josh Bertrand -- Gilbert, AZ -- 15, 44-02 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-00 -- Day 2: 5, 15-08 -- Day 3: 5, 10-10

37. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 43-15 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-14 -- Day 2: 5, 15-10 -- Day 3: 5, 14-07

38. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 15, 43-06 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-12 -- Day 2: 5, 16-10 -- Day 3: 5, 13-00

39. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, AL -- 15, 43-02 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-07 -- Day 2: 5, 17-00 -- Day 3: 5, 12-11

40. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 14, 43-02 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-14 -- Day 2: 5, 13-02 -- Day 3: 4, 13-02

41. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 15, 43-01 -- 60 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-01 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03 -- Day 3: 5, 12-13

42. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 14, 42-14 -- 59 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-07 -- Day 2: 5, 20-05 -- Day 3: 4, 08-02

43. Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, MI -- 15, 42-05 -- 58 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-12 -- Day 2: 5, 15-03 -- Day 3: 5, 11-06

44. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 15, 41-09 -- 57 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-06 -- Day 2: 5, 18-08 -- Day 3: 5, 10-11

45. Kelly Jordon -- Palestine, TX -- 15, 41-07 -- 56 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-06 -- Day 2: 5, 13-08 -- Day 3: 5, 12-09

46. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 15, 41-04 -- 55 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-14 -- Day 3: 5, 10-05

47. Morizo Shimizu Osaka, Japan -- 15, 41-00 -- 54 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-12 -- Day 2: 5, 13-11 -- Day 3: 5, 10-09

48. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 15, 39-06 -- 53 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-02 -- Day 3: 5, 10-03

49. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 14, 37-02 -- 52 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-03 -- Day 2: 5, 13-09 -- Day 3: 4, 06-06

50. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 14, 35-09 -- 51 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-14 -- Day 2: 5, 11-04 -- Day 3: 4, 05-07