Yes, things seem to happen in threes, but to win three tournaments against the best 49 bass fishermen in the world seems almost impossible. Not for Mark Davis. He's got the E50 formula wired and today, with his victory at Smith Lake, he firmly planted his footprint in another chapter of BASS history. A total of five Bassmaster Elite 50 events have been held since the series' inception, and Davis has now won three of them.
He continued that dominance today with an 11-08 limit, which brought his 2-day total to 24-14. He worked his way from 3rd to 2nd in the first round of competition, and yesterday weighed the heaviest limit of the day to lead going into day 4. Today, he never looked back and again posted the heaviest bag of the day.
Kevin Wirth made a strong run at the win, but came up short in 2nd with a total of 22-11 (10-07 today). Kelly Jordon moved up three spots today to finish in 3rd with a total of 21-05 (9-12 today), while Zell Rowland remained in 4th place with a total of 17-15 (5-15 today).
Last year's Elite 50 points winner, Kevin VanDam, climbed one spot to finish 5th with 16-13 total (5-13 today), while Chad Morgenthaler dropped three spots to 6th place with 13-14 total (1-11 today).
The meteorologists predicted high winds for today. Those winds appeared after blast-off and blew harder than they had all week.
Davis' Shoulder Feels Better
After another shoulder surgery last fall, Davis finally feels he's returned to full form.
"This is a great feeling," he said. "I had a terrible year this season and didn't make the (Bassmaster) Classic in the regular season. This really makes the bad season better for me.
"This is a good start for me to make the Classic and hopefully the rest of this series will allow me to do that.
"After my last shoulder surgery, the doctor pretty much told me there was nothing else they could do for me. I went through rehab and the last 30 days, my shoulder has felt better than it has in the last 5 years."
He had a tough day today and his best hole from yesterday didn't pay off.
"After my start yesterday, I figured I could go back into hole 2 and do it all again," he said. "But I got in there and only caught one fish. Yesterday I had a limit in 30 minutes on a spinnerbait, and today all the fish would do is nip at the bait. After that first hour, I knew I'd have to change.
"When I got in the second hole, I reverted back to a weightless worm. But I had to find a worm that would get down to the fish in the high winds we had. I figured it out and caught two fish in hole 3 and then got two more in hole 6.
"I didn't lose a single fish today, thankfully. It was that close. That's how hard it is to win these tournaments."
Although he's never done well at Dardanelle, he's looking forward to that next tournament. "I've never done well at Dardanelle. I love the lake, but it has always bitten me. This year I plan to conquer it."
More details on his winning pattern, and patterns for the other top finishers, will be posted soon.
3rd: Jordon Feels Awesome
Jordon worked it today and moved up two spots to finish 3rd.
"This feels awesome," he said. "To finish in 3rd against these guys is a dream. It's been a tough year for me. I've had five bad tournaments in a row and now I feel like I got the monkey off my back finally.
"My main goal for the E50s was to make the (Bassmaster) Classic," he said. "To come here, make two cuts and finish where I did – I feel I made my goal."
He was one of three anglers to catch a limit today. "I had to scramble all day for my fish," he said. "Yesterday I found some jerkbait fish and figured with the wind today, they'd eat.
"I ended up catching my fish on four different baits though. I just had to work hard and cover the water."
He caught only five fish today.
5th: VanDam Disappointed
VanDam led days 1 and 2 of the tournament, but dropped to 6th yesterday. He weighed three fish today and scratched out enough weight (5-13) to finish 5th.
"This is a really disappointing feeling," he said. "Everyone out there wants to win these tournaments and when you lose, it just hurts.
"I'm very happy for Mark (Davis) though. Last year he won two of these events and only got $10K for those two wins. Today he got what he deserved to win last year."
VanDam said he thought the wind would make today's bite better. "I really thought the fish would bite today. But the cloud cover pulled the fish off the cover and made it difficult to pinpoint where they were. The sun really made a difference in the prior days."
"I had a lot of confidence going into the first day. I had a lot of good fish located and wasn't surprised with the bag I weighed at all. I knew the second day would be tougher, but felt I had enough fish to make the cut.
"I had no clue what the course would offer though," he noted. "The weather was changing and none of us had fished in it before. I didn't think it would be as tough as it was."
"I'm looking forward to the next tournament on Dardanelle. I like that lake a lot."
6th: Morgenthaler Happy and Disappointed
Morgenthaler only weighed one fish today and fell from 3rd to finish 6th today.
"It's disappointing to not be able to close the door," he said. "I don't know what I could have done, other than maybe have more experience on the course.
"I don't know if I burned my fish yesterday or if they just moved. The weather hurt too. The lack of sun pulled the fish off the cover."
Despite his initial disappointment, he said he's happy with the 6th-place finish. "I can't complain, though. This is my best finish this year and to do it in an E50 makes it all the better. I made some mistakes this week and hopefully I can learn from them and do better next time."
> Day 4 stats – 6 anglers, 3 limits, no zeroes.
> Davis on his shoulder rehab. "I should have taken the year off and recuperated. But professional fishermen don't have long-term disability insurance or insurance in general. So I had to keep fishing."
> His previous two E50 wins were at the Tenn-Tom and Alabama River E50s.
> Davis also performed another "impossible": he won BASS Angler of the Year and the Classic in the same year (1995).
> Morgenthaler on his first experience with fishing a course. "It takes a little to get used to it. You don’t know anything and you have to figure it out fast. It made me fish faster than I normally would. I had to tell myself to slow down. It's a fun concept and Bassmaster did a great job with this course. It offered everything."
Day 4 (Final) Standings
1. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, Ark. -- 10, 24-14 -- 310 $104,000
Day 1: 5, 16-12 -- Day 2: 5, 12-01 -- Day 3: 5, 13-06 -- Day 4: 5, 11-08
2. Kevin Wirth -- Crestwood, Ky. -- 10, 22-11 -- 295 -- $22,000
Day 1: 5, 11-14 -- Day 2: 5, 11-11 -- Day 3: 5, 12-04 -- Day 4: 5, 10-07
3. Kelly Jordon -- Mineola, Texas -- 10, 21-05 -- 290 -- $12,000
Day 1: 5, 15-03 -- Day 2: 3, 8-12 -- Day 3: 5, 11-09 -- Day 4: 5, 9-12
4. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Texas -- 8, 17-15 -- 285 -- $11,000
Day 1: 5, 10-10 -- Day 2: 5, 12-14 -- Day 3: 5, 12-00 -- Day 4: 3, 5-15
5. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, Mich. -- 8, 16-13 -- 290 -- $11,300
Day 1: 5, 20-02 -- Day 2: 5, 11-00 -- Day 3: 5, 11-00 -- Day 4: 3, 5-13
6. Chad Morgenthaler -- Coulterville, Ill. -- 6, 13-14 -- 276 -- $11,000
Day 1: 5, 15-02 -- Day 2: 4, 9-15 -- Day 3: 5, 12-03 -- Day 4: 1, 1-11
Day 4: -- Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, Ark. -- 2-09 -- $1,000
Day 3: -- Chad Morgenthaler -- Coulterville, Ill. -- 3-07 -- $1,000
Day 2: -- Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, Okla. -- 5-13 -- $1,000
Day 1: -- Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, Ark. -- 5-08 -- $1,000