By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Matt Arey's weights at the Lake Guntersville Bassmaster Elite Series have fallen off a little each day, but not much. His consistency has put the former FLW Tour standout in position to claim his first victory since the second of his back-to-back triumphs at Beaver Lake in 2015.

He caught an 18-13 stringer on day 3 to push his total to 62-13. He'll start the final round with a 2-03 edge over hard-charging Chris Zaldain, who moved up eight places with a day-best 23-10 sack that gave him a 60-10 aggregate.

Matt Herren climbed from 5th to 3rd with 59-02 after weighing 19-12 on day 3. Rookie Lee Livesay jumped from 12th to 4th with a 22-06 sack for a 58-12 total and Brandon Lester completed the top 5 with 58-04 in the wake of a 14-13 haul that dropped him three positions.

Caleb Sumrall (20-13, 57-09), Chad Pipkens (20-11, 57-04), Kelley Jaye (17-12, 57-01), Hank Cherry (17-06, 56-11) and Jamie Hartman (20-04, 55-11) comprised the remainder of the top 10 who'll return to the water for the final day.

Livesay, Sumrall, Pipkens and Hartman gained final-round berths after starting the day outside the top 10. They supplanted Ray Hanselman, Drew Benton, Bill Lowen and Chris Johnston.

Arey's lightest bag of the tournament (he'd caught 22-14 and 21-06 on the previous days) extended his lead from 9 ounces to 2-03. Drop-offs by Lester, who also caught more than 20 pounds in each of the first two rounds, and Hanselman, who started the day in 3rd but fell to 12th with a 14-04 bag, were a big factor in that increase.

"I caught a lot of fish today, quite a few more than yesterday, but I had two big bites and I didn't capitalize on one of them," said Arey, who's sharing on of his best offshore places a roadbed at the lower end of the lake with Lester. "That one might haunt me a little bit, but overall it was a good day for numbers. I just needed a 5- or 6-pounder to get over 20 again.

"Twenty-five pounds is doable; not necessarily by me, but somebody. This thing is far from over."



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

Chris Zaldain climbed from 10th place to second with his day-best 23-10 sack.

A jig accounted for the bulk of his day-3 weight, but he also caught fish on a crankbait and a worm. The place that he's sharing with Lester has taken a pounding over the past three days, but he thinks it still has good potential for the final round.

"It's definitely been beaten down more than 100 fish have been caught off it, but there's still bites to be had there. The question is whether it's going to continue to produce quality.

"I've got a couple other places I'm going to rotate around a little more. It'll be Monday and I think these people around here work, but I'm not 100 percent sure. If that's the case, it should be a fun day."

Zaldain had lots of fun on day 3 as he put himself squarely in contention for his first full-field Elite win. He caught a solid early stringer on a Neko rig and later made a couple of big culls with a reaction bait.

His weights have gone up on each successive day. His day-3 bag was topped by a 5-15 specimen and he had two others in the 5-pound class.

"The big key today was staying in my main area," he said. "I've been starting there every morning and then trying to expand and find more stuff, knowing the area I have is real special.

"I left by 10 o'clock on the first two days, but I told my wife that I was going to milk it for everything it was worth today because I needed to get to day 4. I just spent more time in my money area, changing the angles of casts and stuff like that."

Herren is still trying to make up for a fish he lost on day 1 that he estimated between 7 and 8 pounds. He's now within 4 pounds of the lead as he pursues his first Elite Series win in 11 years on the circuit.

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

Grass and docks surrendered Matt Herren's 19-12 bag.

He's focused on grass and docks, dropping the new Reaction Innovations Spicy Beaver on a 3/4-ounce Elite Tungsten weight.

He went through about 15 keepers and the biggest was a 4 1/2-pounder. He hasn't lost any that have cost him since the monster on day 1.

"I'm doing all I can do. If I make one cast and catch a 7-pounder, with the grade of fish I'm catching, then other guys better catch them. I'm one bite away."

Livesay said there were two factors that keyed his stout sack.

"One was that I had a group of grass fish show up I'd been just catching one or two there in the morning, but today I caught 19 or 20 pounds in the first hour," he said. "Then I went all day and never culled until literally my last cast, when I caught a 5-12. That got rid of a 2 3/4-pounder."

He handled about 10 keepers during his morning flurry and another 10 through the remainder of the day.

"The thing I'm worried about is whether those grass fish show up again tomorrow or not. The deep deal, I don't know if they'll be there or not I caught about 40 out of one school on the first day and they're totally gone. I've been graphing and looking for new stuff every day."

Notable

> Day 3 standings 35 anglers, 32 limits, 3 fours.

Weather Forecast

> Mon., June 24 Thunderstorms - 85/67
- Wind: From the SW at 10 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 15, 62-13 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 22-10 -- Day 2: 5, 21-06 -- Day 3: 5, 18-13

2. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 15, 60-10 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 17-03 -- Day 2: 5, 19-13 -- Day 3: 5, 23-10

3. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 15, 59-02 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-11 -- Day 3: 5, 19-12

4. Lee Livesay -- Gladewater, TX -- 15, 58-12 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 20-08 -- Day 2: 5, 15-14 -- Day 3: 5, 22-06

5. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 15, 58-04 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 22-00 -- Day 2: 5, 21-07 -- Day 3: 5, 14-13

6. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 15, 57-09 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 20-02 -- Day 2: 5, 16-10 -- Day 3: 5, 20-13

7. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 15, 57-04 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 18-04 -- Day 2: 5, 18-05 -- Day 3: 5, 20-11

8. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 15, 57-01 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 14-09 -- Day 2: 5, 24-12 -- Day 3: 5, 17-12

9. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 15, 56-11 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 21-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-15 -- Day 3: 5, 17-06

10. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 15, 55-11 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 14-13 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10 -- Day 3: 5, 20-04

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

11. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 15, 55-09 -- 90 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-08 -- Day 2: 5, 17-03 -- Day 3: 5, 19-14

12. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 15, 54-07 -- 89 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-02 -- Day 2: 5, 24-01 -- Day 3: 5, 14-04

13. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 15, 54-02 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 21-03 -- Day 2: 5, 18-04 -- Day 3: 5, 14-11

14. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 15, 53-06 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-07 -- Day 2: 5, 19-09 -- Day 3: 5, 15-06

15. Tyler Rivet -- Raceland, LA -- 15, 51-13 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-08 -- Day 2: 5, 14-03 -- Day 3: 5, 17-02

16. Carl Jocumsen -- Queensland, AUS 15 -- 51-09 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 20-06 -- Day 2: 5, 15-06 -- Day 3: 5, 15-13

17. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 51-01 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 18-01 -- Day 3: 5, 17-00

18. Greg DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 15, 50-10 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 19-08 -- Day 2: 5, 13-08 -- Day 3: 5, 17-10

19. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 15, 49-14 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-14 -- Day 2: 5, 15-12 -- Day 3: 5, 15-04

20. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 15, 48-12 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-00 -- Day 2: 5, 19-05 -- Day 3: 5, 16-07

21. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, AL -- 15, 48-11 -- 80 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 20-00 -- Day 2: 5, 12-10 -- Day 3: 5, 16-01

22. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 15, 48-10 -- 79 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 18-13 -- Day 2: 5, 14-02 -- Day 3: 5, 15-11

23. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, TX -- 15, 48-05 -- 78 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 20-14 -- Day 2: 5, 13-04 -- Day 3: 5, 14-03

24. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 15, 48-04 -- 77 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 20-07 -- Day 2: 5, 12-04 -- Day 3: 5, 15-09

25. Drew Cook -- Midway, FL -- 15, 47-10 -- 76 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 17-10 -- Day 2: 5, 16-00 -- Day 3: 5, 14-00

26. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, ON 15 -- 47-09 -- 75 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 21-14 -- Day 2: 5, 15-15 -- Day 3: 5, 09-12

27. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 15, 47-05 -- 74 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 14-11 -- Day 3: 5, 13-11

28. Garrett Paquette -- Canton, MI -- 15, 46-04 -- 73 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 19-15 -- Day 2: 5, 11-11 -- Day 3: 5, 14-10

29. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 15, 46-01 -- 72 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 19-12 -- Day 2: 5, 12-11 -- Day 3: 5, 13-10

30. Shane Lineberger -- Lincolnton, NC -- 15, 45-13 -- 71 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 14-07 -- Day 2: 5, 17-12 -- Day 3: 5, 13-10

31. Randy Pierson -- Oakdale, CA -- 15, 45-02 -- 70 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 18-14 -- Day 2: 5, 15-13 -- Day 3: 5, 10-07

32. Gary Clouse -- Winchester, TN -- 15, 44-12 -- 69 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 18-03 -- Day 2: 5, 14-04 -- Day 3: 5, 12-05

33. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, ON -- 14, 44-10 -- 68 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 18-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-04 -- Day 3: 4, 09-15

34. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, OK -- 14, 43-14 -- 67 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 20-04 -- Day 2: 5, 16-01 -- Day 3: 4, 07-09

35. Quentin Cappo -- Prairieville, LA -- 14, 38-12 -- 66 -- $7,500
Day 1: 5, 18-04 -- Day 2: 5, 13-09 -- Day 3: 4, 06-15