By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


The new leader at the St. Lawrence River Bassmaster Elite Series will have a chance to salvage a lousy season on the final day. To make it happen, he'll have to hold off the two guys who are duking it out for the circuit's most prestigious honor.

Veteran David Walker, who came into the derby having finished no better than 68th in any of the previous four events and buried at No. 91 on the points list, became the tournament's third leader in as many days as a 22-15 stringer pushed his total to 72-05. He'll seek his second Elite Series win on Sunday the first came in 2011 at Alabama's Wheeler Lake.

The 2nd- and 3rd-place positions are occupied by Josh Bertrand and Justin Lucas, close friends who sit atop the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings. Lucas currently has a 9-point edge, with everybody else at least 49 points behind the duo.

Bertrand boxed 23-09 on day 3 for a 72-02 total that left him just 3 ounces behind Walker. Lucas scaled 23-07 for a 70-03 aggregate and was 2-02 behind the leader.

Day-2 leader Brandon Lester came up short of the 20-pound mark (19-13) on day 3 and dropped to 4th with 69-14. Rick Morris, who's without a finish higher than 42nd in his return to the Elites after a 3-year absence, completed the top 5 with 67-11 (23-03 on day 3).

Here are the totals for the 12 anglers who advanced to the final day, with red numbers in parentheses indicating their deficit margins from the leader:

1. David Walker: 72-05
2. Josh Bertrand: 72-02 (0-03)
3. Justin Lucas: 70-03 (2-02)
4. Brandon Lester: 69-14 (2-07)
5. Rick Morris: 67-11 (4-10)
6. Bobby Lane: 67-06 (4-15)
7. Brandon Palaniuk: 66-13 (5-08)
8. Mike McClelland: 66-13 (5-08)
9. Mark Daniels Jr.: 66-12 (5-09)
10. Keith Combs: 66-08 (5-13)
11. Jason Elam: 66-08 (5-13)
12. Seth Feider: 65-11 (6-10)

No 25-pound stringers came to the scale in Waddington, N.Y. on day 3, but 21 of the 50 competitors brought in at least 20 pounds. It's extremely unlikely that the winner will crack the 100-pound threshold, but the mid 90s is a near certainty.

There were four changes among the top 12, with Morris, Mark Daniels Jr. (winner of the previous event at Lake Oahe), Keith Combs and Northern smallmouth stud Seth Feider moving in. They supplanted Jesse Wiggins, Chris Lane, Mike Iaconelli and Jacob Powroznik.



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

Regardless of what occurs on day 4, Walker will post his best regular-season Elite Series finish in 7 years.

The field for the 50-angler AOY Championship event, to be held next month at Georgia's Lake Chatuge, will be set upon the conclusion of the event.

The WeatherChannel.com forecast for the final day predicts scattered thunderstorms, a high temperature of 79 degrees and a 10-mph breeze from the southwest.

Walker Stays Consistent

> Day 3: 5, 22-15 (15, 72-05)

Walker's stringer was an ounce heavier than the one he caught on day 2. Regardless of what occurs on day 4, he'll post his best finish in a regular-season event since his 4th-place showing at Lake Guntersville in 2015.

"I've been pretty consistent and I'm happy about that because that's what you need," he said. "I just didn't catch any giant ones today and that's what makes the difference between catching 22 pounds or 25. There's usually that one fish that gives you that separation and that didn't happen today, but hopefully it will tomorrow."

A 4 3/4-pounder was his best specimen of the day. His bag was considerably heavier than he'd thought prior to it going on the scale.

"I thought I had 19 and change or maybe barely 20 pounds, and I ended up with almost 23. It's just the way these fish are built they're big and round."

He started the day on a place he hadn't visited yet during the event and it surrendered 18 pounds pretty quickly. He hadn't yet decided where he'd begin day 4.

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

Josh Bertrand's day got off to a slow start, but he had a strong finish.

"I've been mulling over where I want to start because I've still got some other places to go. I'll just go and fish and see what I get into. I'm optimistic about catching fish, but I'm going to need some of the bigger ones and there's nothing I can do to make them bigger."

2nd: Bertrand Feels Good

> Day 2: 5, 23-09 (15, 72-02)

Bertrand said he didn't feel like his day was going to be as good as it turned out.

"I'm really happy with my weight because I lost a few fish and I felt like I didn't really have it going on," he said. "I was happy to end up where I did.

"The day started out really slow and I didn't have any good fish at 9 o'clock. I started chipping away after that."

He handled about 15 keepers, the biggest of which was a 5-pounder. He said the ones he lost were in the 4- to 5-pound class.

"It went pretty much the same as the first 2 days I mixed in a few different places, but I basically did the same stuff. I'll go out tomorrow with the same game plan and hopefully I'll have good timing.

"I think I'll probably need a really good bag, like 24 or 25 pounds, to have a chance to win."

3rd: Lucas' Program Still Producing

> Day 3: 5, 23-07 (15, 70-03)

Lucas is the only competitor who's caught at least 23 pounds on each day of the event.

"I'm fishing some different spots now some don't have as many on them as they did earlier but other than that, nothing's really changed for me the whole tournament," he said. "I'm still dropshotting the Berkley Max Scent Flat Worm in 36 to 40 feet and I've had everything to myself the whole time. It's been great."

He went through about 20 keepers on day 3 and he estimated that 10 of them were 3 1/2 pounds or bigger. He weighed a 5 1/2 and lost one about that size.

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

Justin Lucas weighed his third consecutive bag in the 23-pound class.

"The first day and today I caught them pretty early, but yesterday was a little bit slower, like it was for just about everyone. I just think they didn't bite that great yesterday.

"I think I'm going to need 24 to 25 pounds minimum tomorrow to have a chance to win, and that's doable. I've seen enough 5-pound-plus fish for a 25- or 26-pound bag, no doubt. I still feel like there's a 7-pounder out there somewhere to be weighed in."

4th: Lester Comes In Lighter

> Day 3: 5, 19-13 (15, 69-14)

Lester's bag was about 4 pounds lighter than either of the other two he'd weighed as the big fish at his starting spot were uncooperative.

"The only thing I can figure is it was because we didn't have any wind," he said. "It was dead slick cam and when it's like that overnight, you don't get the wind out of Lake Ontario and it slows the current in the river. That's all I can come up with for why they didn't feed good this morning.

"There's one other competitor who's been fishing that area and he only had 14 pounds today, so they didn't fire for him, either."

He had about 17 pounds in his livewell at 11:30, then he made two culls over the next hour and a half that at least got him close to 20. He boated approximately 30 keepers on the day, but none were bigger than 4 1/4 pounds.

"I fished some stuff I hadn't made it to yet (during the tournament) and I ended up catching more fish than on any other day, but they weren't the size I was looking for."

He'll start day 4 on the spot that was so productive for him on the first 2 days.

"I have to go back to where I caught those two big bags. I know the fish are there and if they decide to bite, I know I can win the tournament. I'm definitely within striking distance.

"I've got some stuff to fall back on I caught fish all the way up to weigh-in today and I caught back-to-back 3-pounders on my last two casts. I can run and catch keepers if I need to, but I'm going to the big-fish area to start with."

27th: Big Ones Eluded Wiggins

> Day 3: 5, 14-12 (15, 62-00)

Wiggins began the day in 4th place, but fell 23 slots as his weight was off almost 8 pounds from day 2 and 10 from day 1.

"I just didn't get any big bites," he said. "I ran new water and fish stuff that had big ones on it during practice 4- and 5-pounders but I caught mostly 2 1/2s today. I got one big one (a near-5) first thing in the morning, but nothing else."

He opted to change locations because he was certain that his primary locale from the first 2 days was drying up.

"I really don't know what I could've done differently today maybe stayed in one area all day and tried to grind it out. I was in an area with some fish, but not enough to win the tournament. From the standpoint of trying to win, I don't have any regrets."

Notable

> Day 3 stats 50 anglers, 47 limits, 1 four, 1 three, 1 zero.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., Aug. 26 Scattered T-Storms - 79/62
- Wind: From the SW at 10 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 15, 72-05 -- 110
Day 1: 5, 26-08 -- Day 2: 5, 22-14 -- Day 3: 5, 22-15

2. Josh Bertrand -- San Tan Valley, AZ -- 15, 72-02 -- 109
Day 1: 5, 25-11 -- Day 2: 5, 22-14 -- Day 3: 5, 23-09

3. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 70-03 -- 108
Day 1: 5, 23-12 -- Day 2: 5, 23-00 -- Day 3: 5, 23-07

4. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 15, 69-14 -- 107
Day 1: 5, 24-04 -- Day 2: 5, 25-13 -- Day 3: 5, 19-13

5. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 15, 67-11 -- 106
Day 1: 5, 22-04 -- Day 2: 5, 22-04 -- Day 3: 5, 23-03

6. Bobby Lane Jr. -- Lakeland, FL -- 15, 67-06 -- 105
Day 1: 5, 24-00 -- Day 2: 5, 22-07 -- Day 3: 5, 20-15

7. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 15, 66-13 -- 104
Day 1: 5, 20-15 -- Day 2: 5, 25-12 -- Day 3: 5, 20-02

8. Mike McClelland -- Bentonville, AR -- 15, 66-13 -- 103
Day 1: 5, 24-01 -- Day 2: 5, 21-13 -- Day 3: 5, 20-15

9. Mark Daniels Jr. -- Tuskegee, AL -- 15, 66-12 -- 102
Day 1: 5, 21-14 -- Day 2: 5, 22-11 -- Day 3: 5, 22-03

10. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 66-08 -- 101
Day 1: 5, 25-07 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00 -- Day 3: 5, 23-01

11. James Elam -- Tulsa, OK -- 15, 66-08 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 24-13 -- Day 2: 5, 21-04 -- Day 3: 5, 20-07

12. Seth Feider -- Bloomington, MN -- 15, 65-11 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 21-11 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11 -- Day 3: 5, 22-05

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

13. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 15, 65-04 -- 98 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09 -- Day 3: 5, 22-04

14. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 65-03 -- 97 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 23-14 -- Day 2: 5, 21-15 -- Day 3: 5, 19-06

15. Roy Hawk -- Lk Havasu Cty, AZ -- 15, 64-15 -- 96 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-06 -- Day 2: 5, 22-05 -- Day 3: 5, 21-04

16. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 15, 64-14 -- 95 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 26-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-11 -- Day 3: 5, 21-03

17. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 15, 64-11 -- 94 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 25-11 -- Day 2: 5, 17-15 -- Day 3: 5, 21-01

18. Randall Tharp -- Port St. Joe, FL -- 15, 64-02 -- 93 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-09 -- Day 2: 5, 21-03 -- Day 3: 5, 20-06

19. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 15, 63-11 -- 92 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-05 -- Day 2: 5, 23-14 -- Day 3: 5, 21-08

20. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 15, 63-06 -- 91 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-10 -- Day 2: 5, 19-01 -- Day 3: 5, 22-11

21. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 15, 63-01 -- 90 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-04 -- Day 2: 5, 22-04 -- Day 3: 5, 19-09

22. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 15, 63-01 -- 89 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-03 -- Day 2: 5, 20-13 -- Day 3: 5, 22-01

23. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 15, 62-14 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-03 -- Day 2: 5, 19-15 -- Day 3: 5, 23-12

24. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 15, 62-09 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 23-04 -- Day 2: 5, 19-08 -- Day 3: 5, 19-13

25. Jacob Powroznik -- North Prince George, VA 15 -- 62-07 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-14 -- Day 2: 5, 22-15 -- Day 3: 5, 16-10

26. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 15, 62-03 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-10 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10 -- Day 3: 5, 17-15

27. Jesse Wiggins -- Cullman, AL -- 15, 62-00 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 24-09 -- Day 2: 5, 22-11 -- Day 3: 5, 14-12

28. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 15, 61-06 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 23-04 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09 -- Day 3: 5, 15-09

29. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 15, 61-01 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-15 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10 -- Day 3: 5, 21-08

30. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 15, 60-06 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-00 -- Day 2: 5, 20-12 -- Day 3: 5, 17-10

31. Ott DeFoe -- Blaine, TN -- 15, 60-00 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-14 -- Day 2: 5, 21-07 -- Day 3: 5, 15-11

32. Alton Jones Jr. -- Waco, TX -- 15, 59-13 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-11 -- Day 2: 5, 18-07 -- Day 3: 5, 19-11

33. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 15, 59-05 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-14 -- Day 2: 5, 18-14 -- Day 3: 5, 18-09

34. Alton Jones -- Lorena, TX -- 15, 59-04 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 23-03 -- Day 2: 5, 16-11 -- Day 3: 5, 19-06

35. Fred Roumbanis -- Russellville, AR -- 15, 58-13 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-06 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10 -- Day 3: 5, 19-13

36. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 58-12 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-03 -- Day 2: 5, 19-14 -- Day 3: 5, 16-11

37. Gerald Spohrer -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 58-05 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-15 -- Day 2: 5, 19-09 -- Day 3: 5, 15-13

38. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, TN -- 15, 58-00 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-05 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10 -- Day 3: 5, 16-01

39. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 15, 57-05 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-10 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00 -- Day 3: 5, 17-11

40. Dustin Connell -- Clanton, AL -- 15, 57-01 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-01 -- Day 2: 5, 19-05 -- Day 3: 5, 16-11

41. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, PA -- 15, 56-06 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 24-13 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02 -- Day 3: 5, 16-07

42. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 15, 55-08 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 25-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04 -- Day 3: 5, 13-04

43. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 15, 55-01 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-15 -- Day 2: 5, 20-15 -- Day 3: 5, 16-03

44. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 15, 53-09 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-02 -- Day 3: 5, 13-12

45. Matt Lee -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 53-04 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 27-12 -- Day 2: 5, 14-04 -- Day 3: 5, 11-04

46. Darrell Ocamica -- New Plymouth, ID -- 15, 53-01 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-11 -- Day 2: 5, 19-02 -- Day 3: 5, 13-04

47. Shaw Grigsby Jr. -- Gainesville, FL -- 14, 51-09 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-09 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13 -- Day 3: 4, 12-03

48. John Murray -- Spring City, TN -- 13, 50-02 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 23-13 -- Day 2: 5, 16-08 -- Day 3: 3, 09-13

49. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 15, 48-15 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-06 -- Day 2: 5, 21-05 -- Day 3: 5, 10-04

50. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 10, 39-07 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-10 -- Day 2: 5, 16-13 -- Day 3: 0, 00-00