Friday, April 5, 2019

2019 Bass Pro League Lake Chickamuga Pool B: Martens Pours it On; Lucas, Wiggins, Elam Escape Elimination.

Aaron Martens almost reaches 100lbs!
Aaron Martens and Jordon Lee catch'em like crazy.
(Photo: MLF)

As has become the standard for the Major League Fishing® (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Elimination Rounds, you didn't have to look far to find a multitude of storylines on Day 3 of the Econo Lodge Stage Four Presented by Evinrude.

Aaron Martens gave notice that he's onto a strong pattern on Lake Chickamauga, and is going to be a handful for the rest of the competition as he finished atop the 40 Group A anglers who competed in today's Elimination Round. And joining him in the 20 moving on to Saturday's Knockout Round are three anglers - Justin Lucas, Jesse Wiggins and James Elam - who had not previously advanced past an Elimination Round.

The way Chickamauga is producing scorable bass this week, all Group A and Group B Elimination Rounds' survivors are likely to find squeezing into the Top 20 at the end of Knockout may be harder than it ever has been.

Martens Makes the Most of His Day

Martens picked up where he left off in the Shotgun Round, weighing in 13-5 in the first hour of competition, and connecting with a 7-pound, 6-ouncer. That fish was the anchor of his 36-13 weight for the day, and helped Martens to 94-0 overall in the Shotgun and Elimination Rounds.

That weight surpassed the previous Elimination weight record of 93-4 set by Kelly Jordon at the Stage Three event in Raleigh, North Carolina, and gave the Alabama pro enough of a security blanket that he could mix up his patterns, and survey some of his best spots ahead of the Knockout Round.

"I had some time to check my best spot today, and there are some big ones there," Martens admitted. "I don't know if any of the guys in the other round have fished it, but I've had it to myself the whole time I've fished it. It's just one of the few areas I'm fishing that really has something to it. It's a good spot, I hope nobody else finds it."

Lucas, Wiggins, Elam Advance

Coming into Stage Four, Lucas, Wiggins and Elam had not made it out of the Elimination Rounds. Lucas was the last man out in his Elimination day on Texas' Lake Conroe, but all three anglers had found themselves outside the Top 40 in the three previous Bass Pro Tour events leading up to Stage Four.

In the Thursday fishing though, all three finished well above the Elimination Line: Lucas weighed in 36-13 for a combined weight of 87-10 (fifth), Wiggins added 37-7 to boost his two-day total to 84-4 (ninth), and Elam caught 28-13 for a total Elimination weight of 75-3 (14th).

"Chickamauga fishes a lot like Guntersville this time of year, so it's familiar to me from living in northern Alabama and fishing Guntersville the past several years," Lucas said. "I just feel comfortable. I've caught almost everything this week on a spinning rod. Those first couple of events were out of my element a little bit: shallow pre-spawn largemouth just isn't my thing. 

"That's always kinda been an Achilles heel of my fishing, but when I get out of that phase and can throw swimbaits and topwaters and fish with a spinning rod, that's what I like to do."

The Second Elimination Battle Begins
With the first half of the Knockout Round now set, the 40 anglers from Group B get their next shot at Chickamauga Friday for the second Elimination Round of Stage Four. They can expect some weather: The National Weather Service is calling for sustained winds of 20 mph and rain on Thursday night, and possible thunderstorms throughout competition.
That's likely of little consequence to Cliff Crochet, who posted 69-9 in his Shotgun Round, spent the final two periods of that day running new water, and barring an epic meltdown, is probably comfortably safe from elimination. Ditto the five other anglers (Edwin Evers, Zack Birge, Fletcher Shryock, Michael Neal and Gary Klein) who weighed 47 pounds or more on Day 1.
Neal, for one, is nonplussed about more rain.
"I don't know if it'll really matter much," said the Chickamauga veteran. "More rain isn't going to change the conditions much more than it did the last day of practice, things should mostly stay the same. It's not going to affect what I'm doing"
Expect the anxiety to be much higher in the middle of SCORETRACKER™, where the battle to escape elimination is tightly bunched as usual. But unlike previous elimination days, where big movement has been the norm in the first three events, Chickamauga's prolific productivity may make it tougher to climb up from the bottom of the 40-man standings.
"We had so much movement inside the Top 20 (on Wednesday), but even after all that, we only had one guy fall out and one guy sneak in," said MLF NOW! analyst Marty Stone. "If you think you can just duplicate your day from the Shotgun Round and be safe, guess again - you're going to get left behind. If you're below Jacob Wheeler (in 20th), you'll probably need to have a great day to get inside that Elimination Line."
Looking Ahead to Knockout Saturday
The Top 20 anglers from each of the two Elimination groups will advance to a 40-angler Knockout Round on Saturday - weights will be zeroed, making the Knockout a one-day scramble. The Top 10 anglers in the Knockout Round will advance to the Championship Round on Sunday, April 14.
When, Where & How to Watch
Competition begins daily at 7:30 a.m. ET, with live, official scoring available via SCORETRACKER on and on the MLF app. The MLF NOW! Live Stream starts at 10 a.m. ET, with live, on-the-water coverage and analysis provided by Chad McKee, JT Kenney, Marty Stone and Natalie Dillon until lines out at 3:30 p.m. The Berkley Postgame Show - hosted by Steven "Lurch" Scott - will start at 5 p.m. daily.

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