By BassFan Staff

While his competitors daily totals have been steady and strong, Jordan Lees weights at the Lake St. Clair Elite Series continue to rise.

What he has in store for the final day remains to be seen, but his output on Saturday was pretty impressive. Then again, this whole tournament has been downright extraordinary with 57 stringers in excess of 20 pounds recorded so far. The reigning Bassmaster Classic champion logged his second straight 24-plus pound bag with a tournament-best 25-09 limit to jump from 5th place into the lead with 69-13 entering the final day of the last regular-season tournament.

His day started with a bang as he hooked and landed a 6-13 on the first cast with his dropshot this morning. It eclipsed the 6-10 caught by Shane Lineberger on Friday for big-bass honors so far.

I dont know what I was expecting today, but I wasnt expecting to top yesterday, Lee said. I started where I caught two good ones Friday and that one bit on the first drop. Im super excited. Im not sure what tomorrow will be like. I didnt catch many, but when I set the hook, they were big.

And now hes in position to add an Elite Series win to his historic comeback victory at the Classic back in March. It wont be easy, though, despite holding a 3-plus pound lead over his closest challenger.

Im right where I want to be obviously, but Im not getting a lot of bites," Lee added. "If I go out tomorrow and catch nothing Ill have no regrets. Its not like Im out there crushing them. Im not stressed about it. I know Ive been lucky to catch what Ive caught.

Jason Christie caught 23-11, his best bag of the event, and moved into 2nd with 66-08. More importantly, he gained some ground on Brandon Palaniuk in the race for the Angler of the Year title. Palaniuk caught 57-07 and finished 29th, but saw his points lead cut by more than half. Christie, who came into the week trailing by 43 points, is now 16 points back in 2nd.

Day-2 leader Brock Mosley slipped back to 3rd and is 3 1/2 pounds off Lees pace after catching 20-08, which gave him 66-05.

Mark Daniels, Jr. had his best day of the tournament with a 24-01 bag that moved him up eight spots to 4th with 66-01. It's his first 12-cut of his rookie year. Matt Lee slid three spots to 5th after sacking 18-08, which pushed his aggregate to 63-08.

Here's a look at the top 12 entering the final day of competition, with their deficit margin from Lee indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Jordan Lee: 69-13
2. Jason Christie: 66-08 (3-05)
3. Brock Mosley: 66-05 (3-08)
4. Mark Daniels, Jr.: 66-01 (3-12)
5. Matt Lee: 63-08 (6-05)
6. Takahiro Omori: 61-15 (7-14)
7. Gerald Spohrer: 61-06 (8-07)
8. Paul Mueller: 61-03 (8-10)
9. Jamie Hartman: 61-02 (8-11)
10. Micah Frazier: 60-14 (8-15)
11. Bobby Lane: 60-09 (9-04)
12. Bradley Roy: 60-05 (9-08)

Twelve of the 50 competitors caught 20 or more pounds today and 17 others had between 18 and 20 on yet another exceptional day that saw mostly calm and sunny conditions. The wind will come out of the east on Sunday, but shouldnt exceed todays breeze. There may be more cloud cover compared to today, which could impact how the big smallmouth bite.

Rookie Gerald Spohrer earned himself one more day on the water this season with 22-10 that clinched his first 12-cut. Hes in 7th with 61-06. Paul Mueller was 78th after day 1, but has caught 46-02 over the past two days, including 22-07 today to make his second 12-cut of the year in 8th place with 61-03.

Bradley Roy, the day-1 leader, managed 15-09 today and will have 60-05 heading out in 12th tomorrow. He edged Jonathon VanDam on a tiebreaker, thanks to his 23-03 bag on Thursday, which was the biggest single-day stringer between the two.

Four anglers who started the week outside the top 50 in points Mosley, Jonathon VanDam (13th), Skeet Reese (20th) and Mike Iaconelli (31st) all secured spots in the AOY Championship next month based on their showings. Reese went from 51st to 42nd, Mosley has risen from 58th to 45th and Iaconelli moved from 55th to 46th. VanDam jumped 10 spots from 59th to 49th. Even if Mosley finishes 12th tomorrow, hell only swap spots with Iaconelli in the points standings.

Adrian Avena, who was 47th in points entering the event, wound up with the 50th and final berth in the AOY derby.

Lack of Bites Not a Deterrent for Lee

> Day 3: 5, 25-09 (15, 69-13)

Lee remembers being the day-3 leader at Cayuga Lake last summer, only to get beat by Kevin VanDam on the final day. Tomorrow, he hopes to close this one out, but with the number of bites hes getting on average, its certainly not a given.

After the Classic, the pressure has been kind of low, he said. I learned from Cayuga that I wouldnt have done anything different. I fished good in my best area. Thats what I taking into tomorrow. Once you catch those kinds of bags, you have to do the same exact things. Theres no plan B or C or laying up. I have nothing else.

One thing Ive learned here is not running around a lot is key. It can help you at times, but it can hurt you if you dont have fish found. You cant aimlessly throw out there and catch fish. You have to be on the right small area.

So far, an area not far from the MetroPark where the field is blasting off from has carried Lee to this point. His bag today eclipsed the 24-11 stringer he caught Friday as the biggest bag of his Elite Series career (not counting the 27-04 he caught on the final day at Lake Conroe this spring) and it was aided by the 6-13 that started the day with a bang.

It was a freaking dinosaur, he said. I knew It was a 6-pounder even though Ive never caught any that big. I didnt weight it, but I knew it was big. It was a great way to start because I knew it would be pretty slow for me like it was Friday.

I knew quality bites like that dont come around very often, so getting that fish in the boat was huge.

Like others whove had success this week, its hard for him to explain why hes catching such quality fish off such non-descript spots.



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

Jason Christie made the most of a 90-minute flurry this morning to catch most of his weight.

I found some fish there on the first day of the tournament, he said. There were no locals around and the wind was blowing and I made some long drifts and where I caught fish I marked waypoints. I tried to drift the area to see where I could get bit. I didnt catch any big ones I think the biggest one there was 4-10.

I dont know if they got bigger, but I fished the same stuff and little areas the last two days and Ive been able to catch fish off the same waypoints. Thats been big, to catch them off pretty much the exact place as before.

He hopes theyre there one more day. He had seven bites there today and landed six of them.

It could happen easily or not happen at all, he added. Its been a morning bite, then really slow.

2nd: Slower Morning For Christie

> Day 3: 5, 23-11 (15, 66-08)

On Thursday and Friday, Christie did most of his damage early in the morning. It allowed him to relax a little and expand on the area of Lake St. Clair hes hunkered down in. Today, it was slow going until mid-morning, then slower again in the afternoon.

Luckily, he had a 90-minute spurt during which the big ones showed up and that allowed him to compile his third straight 20-plus pound stringer.

On paper, it looked good, but it was a lot tougher fishing day for me, he said. On the first two days, I caught em decent early. Today, I struggled. It got slow after lunch.

He hasnt lost confidence in where hes fishing its too big for that, he says but hell be sure to revisit certain sweet spots again on Sunday.

Im fishing a big area and there are a few spots within that area where it seems like Ive consistently been able to get a bite off of, he added. Theres really no reason that I can see why theyre on one place versus another.

He knows hell need another stout bag on the final day to challenge Lee for the win.

Fishing is scary because it happens in spurts every day, he said. It happened early the first two days and today it was mid-morning. I just hope it happens at some point because its easy to get impatient and move around.

(Jordan) has a 3-pound lead and has caught back-to-back 25-pound bags so hes going to catch them, and 3 1/2 pounds here is like 7 or 8 somewhere else. Anything is possible, though. I have a chance and I like that. Im glad to have the opportunity, but he has to have a tough hard day and hes not done that."

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

Brock Mosley fell out of the lead, but that didn't bother him one bit today.

3rd: Mosley Accomplished Main Goal

> Day 3: 5, 20-08 (15, 66-05)

Mosleys solitary focus this week was to secure a good enough finish that would move him inside the top 50 in points. Despite going out with the tournament lead this morning, his mindset did not waver.

When I left the dock this morning, my main goal was to do whatever I had to do to stay in the top 20, he said. I wasnt thinking about winning.

By 8:30 a.m., hed yet to have a bite on Lake St. Clair, so he made a move into the Detroit River like he had on Friday. After losing a 4-pound caliber largemouth right away, he boxed 15 pounds in the next hour and then headed back to the lake.

By the time I ran back to the lake it was 11 a.m. and I ended up culling all but one of those river fish out, he added.

After catching 20-plus pounds for the third straight day, he now has an opportunity to challenge for a win for the second time in the past five weeks (he took 2nd at the St. Lawrence River) and hell probably spend the entire day on St. Clair, where hes fishing within sight of Lee.

At one point today, we were within talking distance, he said. Tomorrow will be about catching the big bag. You have to in order to catch up to him.

I still feel like Im making all the right decisions, he added. Did I play it safe today? I dont know, but thats what I did. If I land that first fish (in the river), then Id have 22 pounds so I think the decision was the right one.

4th: Daniels Stoked About Rally

> Day 3: 5, 24-01 (15, 66-01)

Daniels has bounced back nicely this week after missing checks in the previous two northern tournaments, but much like Lee, hes been able to capitalize on the quality bites that are pretty scarce.

It feels great, he said. I had a stellar day. The size of the fish are obviously the right ones, but the frequency of bites is whats scary. I cant complain one bit other than that.

He figured he had about a dozen bites and got 10 of them in the boat Hes been fishing three specific areas all within a mile of each other. His stringer was anchored by a pair of 5-pounders, he said.

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

Mark Daniels had his best day of the tournament and clinched his best finish of the season today.

Faced with a 3-pound, 12-ounce deficit, he believes his chance to win is a longshot, but based on what St. Clair has produced so far, he knows anything can happen.

Id have to catch 24 to 25 and those other guys would have to slip, he said. Its possible. Its definitely exceeded my expectations. The weights have been ridiculously large. The last time I was here was in 2014 and I caught 13 pounds a day.

Im happy and estactic because people see me as a largemouth and grass guy, but if youre not versatile out here, you wont last long. Im just tapping into my inner smallmouth and its been working out.

5th: M. Lee Looks To Hold Steady

> Day 3: 5, 18-08 (15, 63-08)

After catching two 21 1/2-plus pound bags off different areas the first two days, Matt Lee had to resort to scramble mode today to scrape together 18-08.

Yesterday, I had one cast where the sand meets the grass in this little dip and I had 20 pounds by 8:30, he said. I think the water may have cooled off a degree or two there, but I never got a bite there today. Who knows why.

He caught eight fish, all on a 5-inch Strike King Z Too rigged on a dropshot.

It was an all-day struggle, he added.

His realistic goal tomorrow will be to stay in the top 5. That will help him stay where hes at in points (21st).

I want to win this tournament but I have five spots (to fish), he said. Theyll be there or not. Im not on winning stuff. Thats why the first two days surprised me. Its not like I lost 30 pounds of smallmouth today. I lost one. It just didnt happen for me.

Im going to one area tomorrow. Theres a lot less pressure so I can fish slower, too.

31st: Ike Hits Goal, Work Still Remains

> Day 3: 5, 19-04 (15, 56-11)

Iaconelli called it a stressful week for obvious reasons. Hes qualified for the last 16 Bassmaster Classics, the longest streak among active anglers, and he came to St. Clair knowing he had to get inside the top 50 in points in order to prolong his season and open up two more opportunities to keep his Classic streak going.

His 31st-place finish was his best of the three northern events and helped him achieve his goal of qualifying for the AOY event, where he knows hell need a stellar finish to push for a Classic berth.

I was backed into a corner, Iaconelli said. This has been the most miserable season my entire career, or at least one of them. I came into this event having to catch them and I thought I needed a top-20 to advance. I wound up with a little less, but it feels like a little victory. I get to advance and Im hoping to have one or two more chances to make the Classic, which is the ultimate goal.

If hes unable to move up into the top 37 or 38 in points at Mille Lacs, but is among the next eight anglers past the Classic cutoff, hell be placed in the Classic Bracket tournament which is slated for Pokegama Lake, where he has experience from a Major League Fishing event. Then theres also the final Northern Open at Douglas Lake.

I have opportunities to do what I need to do, so I feel good from that standpoint, he added.

He also felt good about his decision to stay on St. Clair for the tournament after spending the first practice day on Lake Erie.

I gambled in practice, which in hindsight was a mistake, but based on where I was, it was the right thing to do, he said, referencing his good track record on the western end of Erie.

He spent the next two days on St. Clair, but never was able to generate the caliber of bites the leaders have been getting.

It was amazing, he said. To catch 18 to 19 a day like me and not be in the top 20, its so unbelievable.

Notable

> Day 3 stats 50 anglers, 46 limits, 2 fours, 2 threes.

> Jamie Hartman set an Elite Series record today by making his fifth top-12 cut as a rookie.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., Aug. 27 Mostly Sunny - 76/58
- Wind: From the S at 7 to 12 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Jordan Lee -- Grant, AL -- 15, 69-13 -- 110
Day 1: 5, 19-09 -- Day 2: 5, 24-11 -- Day 3: 5, 25-09

2. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, OK -- 15, 66-08 -- 109
Day 1: 5, 21-12 -- Day 2: 5, 21-01 -- Day 3: 5, 23-11

3. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 15, 66-05 -- 108
Day 1: 5, 20-05 -- Day 2: 5, 25-08 -- Day 3: 5, 20-08

4. Mark Daniels Jr. -- Tuskegee, AL -- 15, 66-01 -- 107
Day 1: 5, 21-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-05 -- Day 3: 5, 24-01

5. Matt Lee -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 63-08 -- 106
Day 1: 5, 21-13 -- Day 2: 5, 23-03 -- Day 3: 5, 18-08

6. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 15, 61-15 -- 105
Day 1: 5, 19-06 -- Day 2: 5, 22-12 -- Day 3: 5, 19-13

7. Gerald Spohrer -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 61-06 -- 104
Day 1: 5, 15-13 -- Day 2: 5, 22-15 -- Day 3: 5, 22-10

8. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 15, 61-03 -- 103
Day 1: 5, 15-01 -- Day 2: 5, 23-11 -- Day 3: 5, 22-07

9. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 15, 61-02 -- 102
Day 1: 5, 19-11 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09 -- Day 3: 5, 18-14

10. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 15, 60-14 -- 101
Day 1: 5, 20-06 -- Day 2: 5, 21-04 -- Day 3: 5, 19-04

11. Bobby Lane Jr. -- Lakeland, FL -- 15, 60-09 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 19-00 -- Day 2: 5, 20-12 -- Day 3: 5, 20-13

12. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 15, 60-05 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 23-03 -- Day 2: 5, 21-09 -- Day 3: 5, 15-09

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

13. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 60-05 -- 98 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-15 -- Day 2: 5, 20-11 -- Day 3: 5, 19-11

14. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, TN -- 15, 60-04 -- 97 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-09 -- Day 2: 5, 22-01 -- Day 3: 5, 19-10

15. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 15, 59-12 -- 96 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-12 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11 -- Day 3: 5, 17-05

16. Luke Clausen -- Otis Orchards, WA -- 15, 59-06 -- 95 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-05 -- Day 2: 5, 24-15 -- Day 3: 5, 15-02

17. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 15, 59-05 -- 94 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-00 -- Day 2: 5, 18-12 -- Day 3: 5, 19-09

18. Brett Preuett -- Monroe, LA -- 15, 59-03 -- 93 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-04 -- Day 2: 5, 21-09 -- Day 3: 5, 17-06

19. John Murray -- Spring City, TN -- 15, 58-08 -- 92 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 22-02 -- Day 3: 5, 20-06

20. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 15, 58-08 -- 91 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-14 -- Day 2: 5, 20-08 -- Day 3: 5, 17-02

21. Ott DeFoe -- Blaine, TN -- 15, 58-08 -- 90 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-00 -- Day 2: 5, 20-00 -- Day 3: 5, 20-08

22. Jacob Wheeler -- Harrison, TN -- 15, 58-03 -- 89 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-09 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10 -- Day 3: 5, 17-00

23. John Hunter Jr -- Shelbyville, KY -- 15, 58-01 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-01 -- Day 2: 5, 17-01 -- Day 3: 5, 21-15

24. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 15, 58-01 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-02 -- Day 2: 5, 19-09 -- Day 3: 5, 18-06

25. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 15, 58-00 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-14 -- Day 2: 5, 20-09 -- Day 3: 5, 19-09

26. Seth Feider -- Isle, MN -- 15, 57-11 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-08 -- Day 2: 5, 21-15 -- Day 3: 5, 17-04

27. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, CA -- 15, 57-10 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 17-08 -- Day 3: 5, 21-03

28. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 15, 57-09 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-11 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10 -- Day 3: 5, 15-04

29. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 15, 57-07 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-13 -- Day 2: 5, 22-06 -- Day 3: 5, 17-04

30. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 15, 56-12 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-05 -- Day 2: 5, 18-15 -- Day 3: 5, 18-08

31. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 15, 56-11 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-07 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00 -- Day 3: 5, 19-04

32. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 15, 56-03 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-06 -- Day 3: 5, 19-07

33. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 15, 56-01 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-03 -- Day 2: 5, 19-02 -- Day 3: 5, 20-12

34. Chris Zaldain -- Laughlin, NV -- 15, 55-15 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-07 -- Day 2: 5, 22-03 -- Day 3: 5, 18-05

35. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 15, 55-11 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-12 -- Day 2: 5, 17-05 -- Day 3: 5, 17-10

36. Shane Lineberger -- Lincolnton, NC -- 15, 55-08 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-13 -- Day 2: 5, 18-03 -- Day 3: 5, 18-08

37. Josh Bertrand -- San Tan Valley, AZ -- 15, 55-03 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 17-12 -- Day 2: 5, 19-02 -- Day 3: 5, 18-05

38. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 15, 55-01 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-15 -- Day 2: 5, 22-15 -- Day 3: 5, 19-03

39. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 15, 54-07 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07 -- Day 3: 5, 18-05

40. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 53-14 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07 -- Day 3: 5, 17-01

41. Jacob Powroznik -- North Prince George, VA 15 -- 53-12 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-06 -- Day 2: 5, 19-09 -- Day 3: 5, 17-13

42. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 15, 53-01 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-02 -- Day 2: 5, 17-07 -- Day 3: 5, 17-08

43. Fred Roumbanis -- London, AR -- 15, 52-12 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-12 -- Day 2: 5, 16-07 -- Day 3: 5, 17-09

44. Koby Kreiger -- Bokeelia, FL -- 15, 52-11 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-08 -- Day 2: 5, 15-13 -- Day 3: 5, 17-06

45. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 15, 51-13 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-04 -- Day 3: 5, 14-14

46. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 51-02 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-10 -- Day 2: 5, 16-12 -- Day 3: 5, 15-12

47. Randy Howell -- Guntersville, AL -- 13, 50-15 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-06 -- Day 2: 5, 20-14 -- Day 3: 3, 10-11

48. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 14, 50-10 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-13 -- Day 2: 5, 18-08 -- Day 3: 4, 13-05

49. Dustin Connell -- Clanton, AL -- 14, 49-08 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-05 -- Day 2: 5, 17-11 -- Day 3: 4, 13-08

50. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 13, 44-02 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 22-03 -- Day 2: 5, 16-05 -- Day 3: 3, 05-10