Davis still on top at Bassmaster Elite on Lake Dardanelle
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published June 4, 2017
Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., caught a five-bass limit that weighed 14 pounds, 15 ounces during today's semi-final round to maintain his lead at the GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle presented by Econo Lodge.
With $100,000 on the line for Mondays champion, Davis still thinks 16 to 17 pounds will be required to win. He's averaging just over 16 pounds with a three-day total of 48-8.
Mark Davis. (Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.)
"I've really beat up on the fish I've been depending on this week," Davis said. "I believe the right fish are still there, and that I can catch a decent limit tomorrow. But I didn't get as many big bites today as I had hoped."
Davis' spot did receive some additional local pressure before he could get there, and that certainly could be contributing to the reduced action during Sunday's competition.
"I have no problem sharing water with local anglers, heck they've got just as much right to fish there as I do - if not more so," he said. "When I arrived he moved off and let me have it, which was appreciated.
"I will go back there again tomorrow, there's no way around it. I have to," he said. "It's a commitment, though; 40 miles from takeoff. It's the only spot I have on that part of the lake, and it's a small area, but it's been key to my success this week. I'll give it the time it requires in the morning, and hopefully it will pay off."
He said it's unfortunate that his spot is so isolated, but that's likely why other Elite Series anglers haven't been fishing it. Davis plans to fish there until about 9 a.m. before relocating down the lake.
"The water dropped in my areas yesterday, and that is a condition that positions the fish in predictable areas," Davis explained. "The water rose some earlier today, then it began to pull out in the afternoon. If it continues to drop tomorrow I am confident that I can catch another 14 to 16 pounds, but that's not enough to make me comfortable."
New York resident and Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Jamie Hartman is just 9 ounces behind Davis. He caught 16-6 today pushing his total to 47-15.
He has finished in the Top 12 three times during his first season as an Elite Series pro, second at Cherokee Lake, third at Toledo Bend and will begin Championship Monday on Dardanelle in third place.
"I'm very surprised. Based on my practice, I didn't think I could be this consistent. It's certainly been a grind," the 44-year-old angler said. "I'm fishing a very specific ledge with a couple specific presentations, and I managed to get a couple quality bites that kept me in the hunt for this title."
Hartman has not been fishing conservatively this week, but he also hasn't been getting many bites. Friday he caught seven keepers, six on Saturday and seven again today.
"I'm not catching very many fish, but when I do they're pretty good ones," he said. "I think tomorrow will be similar, but this lake has been known to change dramatically from day to day. I'll probably need 19 to 20 pounds tomorrow to have a shot at winning."
Rounding out the Top 12 include: Steve Kennedy (47-3), Michael Iaconelli (45-13), Dean Rojas (45-13), David Mullins (44-14), Kevin VanDam (43-11), Brandon Palaniuk (43-2), Mark Menendez (42-12), Cliff Pace (42-8), Cliff Prince (42-8) and Matt Lee (42-6).
David Mullins of Mount Carmel, Tenn., is still leading the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award thanks to a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth he caught on Friday.
Championship Monday will begin with takeoff at 6:15 a.m. CT at Lake Dardanelle State Park, and weigh-in will be in the same location at 3:15 p.m.