By BassFan Staff


Justin Lucas found out today that he can run 150 miles on one tank of gas in his Phoenix boat. He also found out what it feels like to be leading an Elite Series tournament.

The 29-year-old, who grew up not far from Sacramento, Calif., and spent his childhood and formative years fishing the California Delta, moved to the front of a topsy-turvy leaderboard with one day to go at the Sacramento River. Hes the third different leader so far in an event that has turned into a seesaw affair that could hinge on whos able to trick one or two 6- to 8-pounders into biting tomorrow.

Lucas 19-03 stringer included one of those brutes an 8-12 but he (and his fish) finished the ride back to Sacramento this afternoon in Ish Monroes boat after he ran out of fuel a few miles short of the check-in point. Lucas has 66-14 through 3 days and will take a 3-pound lead into the final day as he tries to lock up his first career win as a pro.

Its a crazy feeling, man, he said. After how much I struggled in practice, its crazy to me that its come together how it has. I dont know how its happening and I dont understand it, but it feels awesome.

Aaron Martens, who led after day 2, caught a 6-pounder early on, but couldnt add much to it as his 12-10 stringer gave him 63-14 in his pursuit of a second career Elite Series win at the Delta.

Chris Zaldain, the day-1 leader, retreated one spot to 3rd after catching 9-14 to run his total to 60-12. Dean Rojas is gaining momentum with a second straight 21-pound effort that moved him up into 4th from 10th with 59-07. Bobby Lane caught 20-06 and is two ounces behind Rojas with 59-05 in 5th.

Here's how the 12 finalists line up entering the final day, with deficit margin from Lucas indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Justin Lucas: 66-14
2. Aaron Martens: 63-14 (3-00)
3. Chris Zaldain: 60-12 (6-02)
4. Dean Rojas: 59-07 (7-07)
5. Bobby Lane: 59-05 (7-09)
6. Ish Monroe: 59-04 (7-10)
7. Ken Iyobe: 59-01 (7-13)
8. Tim Horton: 58-03 (8-11)
9. Jason Christie: 56-05 (10-09)
10. Cliff Pirch: 55-12 (11-02)
11. Keith Combs: 55-03 (11-11)
12. Chris Lane: 54-07 (12-07)

Keith Combs, who was 5th after day 2, dropped in the standings for the second straight day, but managed to make it to Sunday. He caught 10-15 and is in 11th with 55-03. Kevin VanDam slipped two spots to 13th and missed the 12-cut by 6 ounces.

Five 20-pound bags were caught today, four of which came from anglers who qualified to fish Sunday. Jacob Powroznik caught the biggest bag of the day (23-04) and had the biggest fish of the day (9-08) to move up to 16th.

Jason Christie made his second straight 12-cut by catching 20-03 today to move up to 9th from 15th. Tim Horton caught 20-12 and advanced four spots to 8th from 12th.

Timing and execution continue to be key factors this week. The tide scenario is helping some and hurting others as it shifts back an hour each day. There have been a lot of big fish caught late in the day during the event and its entirely possible that the outcome of this tournament could swing on a giant caught in the waning minutes before the long run back to Sacramento on Sunday afternoon.

Weather wont be an issue Sunday with temperatures expected to climb into the mid-80s with a southwest wind of 10 to 15 mph.



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

Lucas has caught fish sight-fishing, flipping and on a topwater this week.

Lucas Wants To Win Badly

> Day 3: 5, 19-03 (15, 66-14)

At 10:30 this morning, Lucas livewell was empty, but he quickly caught three and added the 8-12 to get some momentum going.

Those go a long way here, he said. My goal has been to catch two 6- to 8-pounders a day. They go so far here and theyre available here.

I just dont think (the big one) ever saw me, he said. I had worked on a 6-pounder nearby and she had the bait a couple of times, but she was quicker than me. That was the only one Ive missed this week. When I saw the big one, I put my (Power) Poles down and she was facing away from me. I spotted the male and then I knew what was going on. It took about 20 or 30 minutes to get her in the boat.

He wound up bringing just six fish into the boat today and needed a lift from Monroe to make it back to the ramp.

I knew Ish was coming since Id told him I was running low when we were in one of the no-wake zones together, he said. I need to send a big shout out to Ish for not trying to get ahead of me or pass me and when he saw me, he pulled right in and helped.

Lucas said his call on what direction to start in nearly backfired on him.

I was going to run west today, but I got to a point and turned around and headed back toward Stockton, he said. I really struggled in the morning and that was tough. I felt like Id made the wrong decision.

But now he finds himself in position to capture his first pro victory in his hometown.

More than anything, I want the title, he said. The moneys nice, but I just want to win a tournament. Ive been close a few times, but I want that freaking trophy on my mantle. Its all Im focused on tomorrow and to have a chance to do it in Sacramento where I lived for 23 years, its the perfect scenario. I dont want to blow it. I know Im going to make good decisions and if I dont catch them, I dont catch them. Im looking for three keepers and two big ones.

I feel like I have some banks that have them on them, he continued. I dont really know where Im going tomorrow. The full moon is coming and I dont know what to expect. Im just going to fish as hard as I ever have before. I dont feel any pressure right now. Its just a matter of finding one good one.

2nd: Tougher Day for Martens

> Day 3: 5, 12-10 (15, 63-14)

Martens caught a 6-pounder right off the bat this morning, then spent considerable amounts of time trying to get other big ones to bite, but just couldnt trigger a reaction.

It was tough in general, he said. Only a couple guys caught them, and the guys who did had a couple decent ones. I sat on some big ones too long trying to get them to bite.

Hes becoming more convinced that the majority of fish are done spawning, as he noted the water temperature has risen 8 degrees since practice.

Theres a lot of fry-guarders there now, he added. Its getting warmer and its getting tougher.

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

Aaron Martens saw his weight drop off by about half today compared to day 2.

He said theres a good stretch of time in the morning when the tide is favorable for targeting bedding fish, but the chilly mornings tend to put those fish in a funky mood.

I might have to dropshot tomorrow and fish more finesse stuff, he said. Itll be interesting tomorrow. Im going to do all I can do.

3rd: Zaldains Water Got Muddy

> Day 3: 5, 9-14 (15, 60-12)

Zaldain endured a frustrating day despite following the same game plan that produced more than 50 pounds of fish over the first 2 days.

The complete opposite happened of what I thought would happen, he said. I thought I had a discreet stretch of river, but with other tournaments going on, there were so many boats going in and out that it muddied up the water. Dirty water and boat traffic and sight-fishing are not a winning combo.

He was still around big fish, but just couldnt trigger them to bite. He had an 8-pounder pegged on a bed and she kept eating my bait and got me to stay, but it immediately spit the bait before he had a chance at a hookset.

It was definitely a more frustrating day, he added. I didnt run the tides, but I plan to do that tomorrow. Were going to have more higher water tomorrow so Im going to to look for that flipping bite I had in practice. That high outgoing switch is when they start biting.

He said he also plans to spend time in the area that produced the 12-pounder he caught on day 1.

I need two big bites to have a shot, he said. Im going to need 23 to 25 to have a chance (at winning). It sucks to have to hope a couple guys stumble, but thats the position were in.

4th: Rojas Picking Up Steam

> Day 3: 5, 21-01 (15, 59-07)

Rojas knows next week is going to be exciting when he competes in his backyard at Lake Havasu, but hes not quite done with the Sacramento River just yet. This is his second straight 12-cut and he assured himself a sixth straight Top-20 finish going back to the Cayuga Lake tournament last year.

After catching 16-12 Thursday, hes put together consecutive 21-pound days that have him within spitting distance of Lucas, especially after seeing how some of the leaders gave ground today.

Ive not been sight-fishing, he said. Im just fishing around. The tide is getting progressively worse for sight-fishing every day and with the tide getting later every day, thats when those guys are seeing them the best.

For me, I have a couple areas that Im going back and forth on. I know theyre bedding in there. I just cant see them. Im fishing the points and pockets and edges, everything really.

His kicker was an 8-03 that came flipping.

I was just fishing around and I picked up on it and it got heavy, he said. Those 8-pounders really help. Thats what Ive been focused on. I had one big one on day 1 and two yesterday and that one today. Without them, youre just catching 2- and 3-pounders.

He knows hes not out of it with the kind of potential that swims in the water around the Delta.

I just need a big bag tomorrow, he said. Where Im fishing at, the fishing is evolving every day for me so if I can catch big ones, I have a shot.

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

Bobby Lane believes he has a legitimate chance of making up a 7 1/2-pound deficit on Sunday.

5th: Lane Not Counting Himself Out

> Day 3: 5, 20-06 (15, 59-05)

The last time the Elite Series visited the California Delta, Lane finished out of the money in 58th. Tomorrow, he thinks he has a shot at the win.

Any time you get to fish in the Top 12, you have to be happy with the way things are going, he said. Today was just a fun day. Day 1 was a struggle. Friday was mediocre, but today was fun. I caught a lot of them.

He started today on an area where he finished up day 2 and collided with a group of fish in a feeding frenzy.

I wrecked them, he said. I caught skinny ones and fat ones off the bed. Its an area Im hoping theyre using to spawn. Its been a grind so far, but today was smooth and easy. Id set the hook and itd be a nice fish.

The neat thing about the Delta right now is it seems like anywhere you go when the tide is out there are big ones swimming around. Maybe theyre not on beds, but theyre there and youre liable to stumble into a big bag anywhere.

He thinks he had the chance to do just that tomorrow.

Im in an area where I think if I can get five right bites, I could have 22 to 25 pounds, he added. I fished in there twice today and left and had 20 pounds and still had 3 more hours to fish. If I can catch one of those great big ones like those 7- to 9-pounder that everybodys catching, I have a feeling that I have a great chance at winning. Im gonna rot in one spot.

28th: Ehrler Back On Track

> Day 3: 5, 14-08 (15, 46-04)

After posting an 87th-place finish at the Sabine River, Brent Ehrler has returned to his consistent form with back-to-back results in the 20s.

Im definitely happy with it, he said Any time you make the cut and get a good check, youre happy, but I wasnt happy with the decisions I made today. I dont think I couldve made the cut because I wasnt around the right fish, but my biggest mistake is I run around too much. Im always thinking, If I run over here, I might get one, or I might catch one or over there, just trying to get a random big bite.

He got into an area today and caught 20 keepers in the span of an hour and culled three times, but it was toward the end of his day and he had to bolt.

I shouldve stayed in there and fished around, he added. I got there on what I thought was the wrong tide and they were biting like crazy.

His biggest fish came on a Boss Head Banger vibrating jig. He also flipped tules.

I liked the dirtier water better, he said. They were chasing better when it was stained.

Notable

> Day 3 stats 52 anglers, 50 limits, 1 four, 1 three.

> After a lackluster showing at Lake Guntersville in April, Brent Chapman came west needing a good finish. To find out how he secured a Top-30 result, click here to check out the BassFan Pro View Report.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., May 3 Partly Sunny - 84/51
- Wind: From the SSW at 10 to 15 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 66-14 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 21-13 -- Day 2: 5, 25-14 -- Day 3: 5, 19-03

2. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 15, 63-14 -- 99 -- $500
Day 1: 5, 24-11 -- Day 2: 5, 26-09 -- Day 3: 5, 12-10

3. Chris Zaldain -- San Jose, CA -- 15, 60-12 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 30-07 -- Day 2: 5, 20-07 -- Day 3: 5, 09-14

4. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 15, 59-07 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 16-12 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10 -- Day 3: 5, 21-01

5. Bobby Lane Jr. Lakeland, FL -- 15, 59-05 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 21-02 -- Day 2: 5, 17-13 -- Day 3: 5, 20-06

6. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 15, 59-04 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 22-02 -- Day 2: 5, 23-02 -- Day 3: 5, 14-00

7. Ken Iyobe -- Tokoname -- Aichi JAPAN -- 15, 59-01 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 21-12 -- Day 2: 5, 21-05 -- Day 3: 5, 16-00

8. Tim Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 15, 58-03 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 19-07 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00 -- Day 3: 5, 20-12

9. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, OK -- 15, 56-05 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 20-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-12 -- Day 3: 5, 20-03

10. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 15, 55-12 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 24-00 -- Day 2: 5, 19-14 -- Day 3: 5, 11-14

11. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 55-03 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 24-13 -- Day 2: 5, 19-07 -- Day 3: 5, 10-15

12. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 54-07 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 20-10 -- Day 2: 5, 18-01 -- Day 3: 5, 15-12

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

13. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 54-01 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-05 -- Day 2: 5, 15-04 -- Day 3: 5, 16-08

14. Randy Allen -- Shreveport, LA -- 15, 53-15 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-12 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04 -- Day 3: 5, 16-15

15. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 15, 53-01 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 25-08 -- Day 2: 5, 11-06 -- Day 3: 5, 16-03

16. Jacob Powroznik -- Port Haywood, VA -- 15, 52-12 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-04 -- Day 2: 5, 11-04 -- Day 3: 5, 23-04

17. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 15, 51-00 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-13 -- Day 2: 5, 11-03 -- Day 3: 5, 18-00

18. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, AR -- 15, 50-15 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-14 -- Day 3: 5, 17-11

19. Jordan Lee -- Vinemont, AL -- 15, 50-11 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-01 -- Day 2: 5, 20-11 -- Day 3: 5, 17-15

20. James Elam -- Tulsa, OK -- 15, 49-06 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 14-14 -- Day 3: 5, 15-09

21. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 15, 49-00 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-01 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02 -- Day 3: 5, 14-13

22. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 15, 48-15 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-15 -- Day 2: 5, 20-09 -- Day 3: 5, 16-07

23. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 15, 48-10 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-09 -- Day 2: 5, 13-08 -- Day 3: 5, 17-09

24. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 48-02 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-02 -- Day 2: 5, 16-01 -- Day 3: 5, 12-15

25. Koby Kreiger -- Bokeelia, FL -- 15, 47-08 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-00 -- Day 2: 5, 13-04 -- Day 3: 5, 13-04

26. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 15, 46-12 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-05 -- Day 2: 5, 14-12 -- Day 3: 5, 17-11

27. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 15, 46-08 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-15 -- Day 2: 5, 18-14 -- Day 3: 5, 13-11

28. Brent Ehrler -- Newport Beach, CA -- 15, 46-04 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-02 -- Day 2: 5, 16-10 -- Day 3: 5, 14-08

29. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 15, 45-15 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-08 -- Day 2: 5, 18-07 -- Day 3: 5, 13-00

30. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 15, 45-12 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 10-06 -- Day 3: 5, 14-15

31. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 15, 45-11 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-11 -- Day 2: 5, 13-11 -- Day 3: 5, 15-05

32. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, TX -- 15, 45-09 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-06 -- Day 3: 5, 10-12

33. Boyd Duckett -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 44-14 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-13 -- Day 3: 5, 14-14

34. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 15, 43-12 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-13 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10 -- Day 3: 5, 11-05

35. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, TN -- 15, 43-10 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-13 -- Day 2: 5, 14-01 -- Day 3: 5, 13-12

36. Dennis Tietje -- Roanoke, LA -- 15, 43-04 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-08 -- Day 3: 5, 11-11

37. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 15, 43-03 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-11 -- Day 2: 5, 12-12 -- Day 3: 5, 12-12

38. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 15, 43-02 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-15 -- Day 2: 5, 18-14 -- Day 3: 5, 10-05

39. John Murray -- Phoenix, AZ -- 11 -- 42-12 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 3, 08-13 -- Day 2: 5, 23-04 -- Day 3: 3, 10-11

40. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 15, 42-10 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-13 -- Day 2: 5, 09-08 -- Day 3: 5, 12-05

41. Chad Pipkens -- Holt, MI -- 15, 42-04 -- 60 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-14 -- Day 3: 5, 12-00

42. Brandon Palaniuk -- Rathdrum, ID -- 14, 42-03 -- 59 -- $10,000
Day 1: 4, 11-13 -- Day 2: 5, 17-03 -- Day 3: 5, 13-03

43. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 15, 42-00 -- 58 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-11 -- Day 2: 5, 13-05 -- Day 3: 5, 11-00

44. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 15, 41-15 -- 57 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-04 -- Day 2: 5, 13-04 -- Day 3: 5, 11-07

45. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 15, 41-05 -- 56 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03 -- Day 3: 5, 13-02

46. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 15, 40-15 -- 55 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-02 -- Day 2: 5, 16-09 -- Day 3: 5, 11-04

47. Kelly Jordon -- Flint, TX -- 15, 40-13 -- 54 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-09 -- Day 2: 5, 12-07 -- Day 3: 5, 10-13

48. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 15, 39-08 -- 53 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-02 -- Day 2: 5, 13-01 -- Day 3: 5, 11-05

49. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 15, 38-09 -- 52 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 09-13 -- Day 3: 5, 08-05

50. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 14, 38-07 -- 51 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-10 -- Day 2: 5, 15-03 -- Day 3: 4, 06-10

51. Kenyon Hill -- Norman, OK -- 15, 38-07 -- 50 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-13 -- Day 3: 5, 10-04

52. Seth Feider -- Bloomington, MN -- 15, 36-05 -- 49 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-02 -- Day 2: 5, 17-05 -- Day 3: 5, 06-14