By BassFan Staff

Greg Hackney has caught a lot of nice fish at the Cayuga Lake Bassmaster Elite Series. He hopes that one he failed to catch doesn't cost him the victory in the regular-season finale.

The Angler of the Year leader came to the scale with only four fish today – one fewer than he was allowed. His quartet weighed a healthy 17-11 and his 3-day total of 61-10 kept him in the lead, but his advantage over 2nd-place Todd Faircloth was trimmed from more than 3 pounds to just 10 ounces.

Hackney got the bite he needed to complete his limit, but failed to convert.

"It was in a little flurry and I'd just caught a 5-pounder and a 4 on back-to-back casts," he said. "I flipped back in there and it bit real hard.

"It's funny, the way these fish bite, you just have to load the rod up to catch them – if you try to jump on them you'll miss every one. This one slacked the line and when he did, I went unconscious and jumped on him."

Faircloth, meanwhile, has been phenomenally consistent. His 20-03 bag on day 3 was exactly 1 ounce heavier than his hauls from each of the previous 2 days and boosted his total to 60-07.

Chris Zaldain, who's sharing a hot spot with Faircloth, sacked 19 pounds even and moved up to 3rd with 56-04. Jacob Powroznik inched up one place to 4th with a 16-13 stringer for a 55-11 aggregate.

Day-1 leader Brandon Palaniuk rounded out the Top 5 with a 17 1/2-pound bag that bumped his total to 54-07.

Here are the totals for the anglers who'll be back on the water for the final day, with their deficit margins denoted by red numbers:

1. Greg Hackney: 61-01
2. Todd Faircloth: 60-07 (0-10)
3. Chris Zaldain: 56-04 (4-13)
4. Jacob Powroznik: 55-11 (5-06)
5. Brandon Palaniuk: 54-07 (6-10)
6. Brent Chapman: 54-04 (6-13)
7. Jared Lintner: 53-12 (7-05)
8. Edwin Evers: 52-12 (8-05)
9. Matt Herren: 51-07 (9-10)
10. Dean Rojas: 51-07 (9-10)
11. Paul Elias: 51-06 (9-11)
12. Kevin Short: 51-04 (9-13)

Kevin VanDam was officially eliminated from contention for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic today as he became locked out of the Top 50 in the points standings. Only those competitors will move on to the AOY Championship next month at the Bays de Noc in Michigan, and the Top 35 or so (depending on the number of double-qualifiers) after that derby will earn berths for South Carolina's Lake Hartwell in February.

VanDam, a four-time Classic winner, has fished in the sport's premier event every year since 1991 and his streak of 24 consecutive qualifications is second only to Rick Clunn's 28. He finished 70th at Cayuga, but was still mathematically alive going into day 3, needing several anglers who were in front of him in the points standings to have bad days and backslide a bit. He didn't get the help he needed.

A stiff wind that blew from the south made things difficult for some of the competitors on day 3. Waves reaching 2 feet or more in height rolled over the grass beds, making boat positioning complicated and undoubtedly knocking some fish out of their comfort zone.

Herren (17-00 on day 3), Rojas (18-10) and Elias (19-01) were newcomers to the Top 10, moving up 4, 8 and 11 places, respectively. They supplanted Casey Scanlon (7th to 18th, 10-12), Mark Davis (8th to 16th, 10-15) and Fred Roumbanis (12th to 21st, 11-13). Roumbanis' slide knocked him 1 place out of the Top 50 in the points.

BassFan
Photo: BassFan

Todd Faircloth's weights have been remarkably similar throughout all 3 days of the tournament.

The WeatherChannel.com forecast for day 4 calls for partly cloudy skies, a high temperature of 81 degrees and a 5-mph breeze out of the east/southeast. Competitors will likely see more sun than they've experienced since practice, which could boost the flipping bite.

The winner will be determined tomorrow based on highest cumulative weight.

Hackney Blown Out

> Day 3: 4, 17-11 (14, 61-01)

Hackney caught his four keepers (and missed the fifth) early in the day before the wind reached its peak. He said he should've left for another area farther down the lake once the action died on his deep grass, but thought he could pick up one more solid specimen from the skinnier water nearby.

That assumption proved incorrect.

"I moved up, but I couldn't get bit shallow," he said. "I'd been fishing really big baits trying to catch big ones and I downsized to try to generate bites, but I couldn't catch little ones, either.

"That grass comes close to the surface and the big water moves it. Those fish don't feel comfortable with it shaking like that and they just pull out of it."

The fish he weighed were all clones ranging from 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 pounds.

"They were right on track with the same kind of fish I've caught every day. It's kind of a cool deal because every time I get a bite, it's a big one. I threw this stuff in practice but I didn't catch these kinds of fish. The first morning (of a tournament) I'm always aggressive early and I got them biting it. I've just been rolling with it ever since."

He thinks he'll be fine if the wind settles down on day 4. If it doesn't, he won't hesitate to relocate.

"Honestly, I'm in a good position. I've got other areas I haven't been to, but I just don't know if anybody else has been fishing them."

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Chris Zaldain is fishing in very close proximity to Faircloth, but said he's doing something slightly different.

2nd: Similar Numbers for Faircloth

> Day 3: 5, 20-03 (15, 60-07)

Faircloth has been so ridiculously consistent that it almost seems like he's bringing the same five fish to the scale each day.

"That's just a weird coincidence," he said. "I like it, though."

He said the action at the place he's sharing with Zaldain slowed down considerably at about 8:30 this morning. He had between 18 and 19 pounds at that juncture and then made one cull from another area.

"I'm not sure if there's anything left or not," he said. "I caught a lot more fish (after he moved on), but none that helped me other than the one. If I'm going to win the tournament, I'm probably going to have to catch them there. I've got two other spots that I've got a lot of confidence in and then a bunch of other spots where I caught them good in practice, but not in the tournament. I definitely know there's potential there.

"I feel like I have to catch another 20 pounds to have a chance, but you never know. Me and Hackney are pretty close (weight-wise), then there's a pretty good gap between me and 3rd. We'll just have to wait and see."

3rd: Zaldain Giving Some Room

> Day 3: 5, 19-00 (15, 56-04)

Zaldain said that even though he's fishing only about 30 feet from Faircloth, they're not doing precisely the same thing.

"We talked it out (on day 2 after their paths didn't cross on the spot on day 1) and everything's been super-respectful," he said. "He had more weight than I did the first 2 days, so I'm not pressuring him. He's kind of on the inside and I'm on a little secondary place fishing lighter-line stuff."

He revealed that he's using a dropshot rig in water that's 20 to 22 feet deep. The five fish he weighed on day 3 were all between 3 1/2 and 4 pounds and represented the biggest of about 30 keepers.

"I'll start there tomorrow and see what I can sack – hopefully 18 or 19 pounds. Then if the sun's out I'm going flipping and frogging for the rest of the day. The only day the sun shined (the second practice day) I shook off over 15 bites doing that.

"The thing about this lake is it changes quickly – when they bite, they bite fast and if you're in the right area at the right time 25 pounds is not out of the question by any means. Over the course of practice and the tournament I've seen five fish that were over 5 pounds each, so it could happen."

4th: Powroznik Caught at Least 30

> Day 3: 5, 16-13 (15, 55-11)

The conditions made it more difficult for Powroznik to run his main program, but he nonetheless boated between 30 and 40 keepers.

"It was kind of hard to flip in those (rollers)," he said. "I've caught all my big ones flipping the milfoil and I'm going to do that the whole time tomorrow. It'll be all or nothing and I'm not worried about it.

"It's going to be hard to catch (Hackney and Faircloth), but it is bass fishing and there's nothing guaranteed. I'm just glad to be in the Top 12 and I'll go out and have a good time."

5th: Palaniuk Hitting Hard Stuff

> Day 3: 5, 17-08 (15, 54-07)

Palaniuk revealed today that he's not fishing grass – he's on a small rock pile that also contains a shell bed.

He's throwing a football jig, a dropshot and a Rapala Jigging Rap ice jig.

"There's a lot of big fish there and some smallmouth are mixed in with the largemouth," he said. "They all move up and down. I weighed one smallmouth today, about a 3-pounder, but most of them are largemouth. I'm casting to a spot that's maybe the size of my front deck.

"I found it the second day of practice just idling around (and looking at) the graph. With the SideScan I could see the shell bed and the fish suspended off it. I caught a lot of fish in the grass, but they were all 2- or 2 1/2-pounders and it seemed like there were bigger fish out there. I knew I probably wouldn't get as many bites, but I thought I might get the bigger bites that I needed."

He doesn't hold out much hope of running down the leaders.

"The potential's there, but I'm probably too far behind at this point."

6th: Bittersweet Day for Chapman

> Day 3: 5, 17-13 (15, 54-04)

Chapman was happy that he moved up four places on day 3, but disappointed to learn following the weigh-in that there's no way he can get inside the Top 50 in the points for the AOY Championship. He'll have to win the final Central Open at the Arkansas River next month to make the '15 Classic.

"Tomorrow I'll just go out and fish and have fun and maybe I'll pull off a shocker," he said. "If not, I might have a little more hunting time this fall.

"I was hoping to not have to go to the Open, but now it's my last ace in the hole type of deal. Maybe I can take the momentum I've picked up here and go try to win that one."

He handled more than 20 keepers today, the best of which weighed 4 3/4 pounds.

"This is an amazing fishery. New York keeps moving up my list of states where I like to fish."

9th: Herren Hanging On

> Day 3: 5, 17-00 (15, 51-07)

Matt Herren's week started with a day-long drive from South Carolina after a 6th-place finish at the Forrest Wood Cup. He missed Monday's practice session at Cayuga and didn’t have a promising day Tuesday.

Still, he's been able to qualify for his fourth final-day cut across both tours despite running on fumes.

"When the adrenaline runs out of my veins, it's going to be ugly," he said. "I got up Monday night too late to go to the campground and I stayed in the Walmart parking lot in Auburn. So I got my fishing license and groceries for the week, woke up about 8 a.m. Tuesday and stumbled over here and didn't feel so great.

"I had a horrible day of practice. I caught some fish, but they were little. I share information with Bill Lowen so I knew what he had developed during practice and we ran it, so on the last day I wanted to get on a grass bite, but I'm just not on it. It will shock people, but I'm running the bank. I didn't have enough time to get out there and find it. It was too short of practice for me. You're hunting for specific spots and when you're moving as fast as I'm moving, I didn't have time to develop it."

He's fishing his strengths this week and has solidified a spot in next year's Classic and the upcoming AOY championship.

"I came here 22nd in AOY and knew I had to make it to the AOY championship," he said. "I had to suck it up and put bass in the boat and I asked myself, 'How are you going to do it?' I picked up what I'm comfortable with and went to the bank. I may not catch one tomorrow, but I'm having a good time."

12th: Wind Whipped Short

> Day 3: 5, 12-00 (15, 51-04)

Most of Short's best stuff is on the west side of the lake and that shore got pounded today as the wind was out of the south with just a bit of an eastern slant to it. He dropped nine slots in the standings

"I lost one big fish that would've saved me a few places, but I just didn't get the bites I'd been getting," he said. "With 2-footers rolling over the grass, I couldn't even fish over there. I scrambled around and picked up what I caught and I was fortunate to stay in the Top 12."

He landed eight keepers, but none weighed more than 2 3/4 pounds.

"If the wind (on day 4) is half of what it was today and the sun pops out, it should be a pretty good day. This week has been fun, but today wasn't fun.

"I wasn't stressing over points or anything – I just wasn't getting bit and it was (ticking) me off."

Notable

> Day 3 stats – 58 anglers, 48 limits, 2 fours.

> Aaron Martens got off to a lackluster start in this event, but improved his weight by more than 3 pounds on each successive day and ended up with a 15th-place finish that keeps his hopes of a second straight Angler of the Year award alive. To read his competition wrap-up, click here to visit Pro View Reports.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., Aug. 24 – Partly Cloudy - 81°/59°
- Wind: From the ESE at 5 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 14, 61-01 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 20-05 -- Day 2: 5, 23-01 -- Day 3: 4, 17-11

2. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 15, 60-07 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 20-02 -- Day 2: 5, 20-02 -- Day 3: 5, 20-03

3. Chris Zaldain -- San Jose, CA -- 15, 56-04 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 15-12 -- Day 2: 5, 21-08 -- Day 3: 5, 19-00

4. Jacob Powroznik -- Port Haywood, VA -- 15, 55-11 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 20-04 -- Day 2: 5, 18-10 -- Day 3: 5, 16-13

5. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 15, 54-07 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 20-10 -- Day 2: 5, 16-05 -- Day 3: 5, 17-08

6. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 15, 54-04 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 19-01 -- Day 2: 5, 17-06 -- Day 3: 5, 17-13

7. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 15, 53-12 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 17-00 -- Day 2: 5, 19-06 -- Day 3: 5, 17-06

8. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 15, 52-12 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 19-12 -- Day 2: 5, 19-05 -- Day 3: 5, 13-11

9. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 15, 51-07 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 15-12 -- Day 3: 5, 17-00

10. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 15, 51-07 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 16-01 -- Day 2: 5, 16-12 -- Day 3: 5, 18-10

11. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 14, 51-06 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 17-01 -- Day 2: 4, 15-04 -- Day 3: 5, 19-01

12. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 15, 51-04 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 19-06 -- Day 2: 5, 19-14 -- Day 3: 5, 12-00

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

13. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 15, 48-15 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-12 -- Day 2: 5, 15-14 -- Day 3: 5, 15-05

14. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 15, 48-03 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 14-02 -- Day 3: 5, 15-06

15. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 15, 48-02 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-14 -- Day 2: 5, 16-00 -- Day 3: 5, 19-04

16. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 15, 48-00 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-10 -- Day 3: 5, 10-15

17. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 15, 48-00 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-10 -- Day 2: 5, 19-11 -- Day 3: 5, 14-11

18. Casey Scanlon -- Lanexa, KS -- 15, 47-15 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-04 -- Day 2: 5, 16-15 -- Day 3: 5, 10-12

19. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 15, 47-12 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-01 -- Day 2: 5, 15-03 -- Day 3: 5, 17-08

20. Brandon Card -- Caryville, TN -- 15, 47-11 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-14 -- Day 2: 5, 15-04 -- Day 3: 5, 17-09

21. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 15, 47-05 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-12 -- Day 2: 5, 17-12 -- Day 3: 5, 11-13

22. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 15, 46-14 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-03 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13 -- Day 3: 5, 12-14

23. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 15, 46-12 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-05 -- Day 2: 5, 15-00 -- Day 3: 5, 15-07

24. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, SC -- 15, 46-10 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-10 -- Day 3: 5, 15-09

25. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, FL -- 15, 45-11 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-00 -- Day 2: 5, 15-05 -- Day 3: 5, 16-06

26. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 45-10 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-12 -- Day 2: 5, 13-04 -- Day 3: 5, 15-10

27. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 15, 45-06 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-12 -- Day 2: 5, 15-09 -- Day 3: 5, 14-01

28. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 15, 45-04 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-02 -- Day 2: 5, 16-07 -- Day 3: 5, 12-11

29. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 44-10 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-12 -- Day 2: 5, 13-05 -- Day 3: 5, 16-09

30. Morizo Shimizu -- Osaka, Japan-- 15, 44-10 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-10 -- Day 2: 5, 14-11 -- Day 3: 5, 15-05

31. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 15, 44-09 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15 -- Day 3: 5, 14-04

32. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 15, 44-09 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-12 -- Day 2: 5, 15-00 -- Day 3: 5, 13-13

33. James Elam -- Tulsa, OK -- 15, 44-00 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-04 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03 -- Day 3: 5, 13-09

34. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 15, 43-13 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 14-13

35. Kevin Hawk -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 43-10 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-10 -- Day 2: 5, 16-14 -- Day 3: 5, 11-02

36. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 15, 43-04 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-08 -- Day 3: 5, 11-09

37. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 15, 43-03 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-15 -- Day 2: 5, 15-14 -- Day 3: 5, 13-06

38. Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, MI -- 15, 42-04 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 09-11 -- Day 3: 5, 13-10

39. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, TX -- 15, 42-04 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-09 -- Day 2: 5, 14-10 -- Day 3: 5, 14-01

40. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 41-14 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-05 -- Day 3: 5, 09-06

41. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 15, 41-14 -- 60 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-08 -- Day 2: 5, 14-14 -- Day 3: 5, 11-08

42. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 15, 41-03 -- 59 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-01 -- Day 2: 5, 16-11 -- Day 3: 5, 12-07

43. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 15, 41-02 -- 58 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-11 -- Day 2: 5, 13-00 -- Day 3: 5, 12-07

44. Tracy Adams -- Wilkesboro, NC -- 15, 40-12 -- 57 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-15 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15 -- Day 3: 5, 10-14

45. Mike Kernan -- Wylie, TX -- 13, 40-01 -- 56 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 3, 07-12 -- Day 3: 5, 11-14

46. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 15, 39-13 -- 55 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-10 -- Day 2: 5, 14-03 -- Day 3: 5, 11-00

47. Boyd Duckett -- Guntersville, AL -- 14, 39-05 -- 54 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-00 -- Day 2: 5, 15-13 -- Day 3: 4, 09-08

48. Josh Bertrand -- Gilbert, AZ -- 15, 38-06 -- 53 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-09 -- Day 2: 5, 10-11 -- Day 3: 5, 09-02

49. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 15, 38-05 -- 52 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-07 -- Day 2: 5, 15-00 -- Day 3: 5, 09-14

50. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 15, 38-01 -- 51 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-04 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13 -- Day 3: 5, 08-00