By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

Pressure, unease and drama have become common hallmarks of the Elimination Round during Bass Pro Tour events. Its the day when the first wave of anglers are sent packing for the week, so its easy to understand the angst felt by competitors hovering near the cut line as the day draws to a close, their fate resting on each remaining cast. Every empty retrieve means someone else could be reeling one in.

There was very little in the way of cut-line tension today as the 30-man field at the BPT Redcrest championship was shaved down to 20 at the upper Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wis. Only one spot inside the top 20 changed hands from yesterday and the deficit between 20th and 21st was double digits most of the day.

At days end, the only question was how long would the tournament leader be stranded on a sandbar in Pool 8.

By the time Zack Birge got his boat lodged in ankle-deep water at roughly 2 p.m. local time it was hard to envision someone catching him on the ScoreTracker. Hed tacked on 35-02 (19 bass) to run his two-day total to 117-01 (69 bass), more than enough to cement his place in the Knockout Round. He was the only angler who wouldve advanced without catching a fish today.

Birges misfortune was self-inflicted, though, and hell pay the price when he returns to the water Saturday. According to the MLF rulebook, because he required assistance to free his boat from the sandbar, hell be assessed a 15-minute penalty at the start of the first period.

An airboat had to be dispatched to help free Birge's boat.

I went down a lane I hadnt been down yet, he said, estimating his boat was 150 yards from deep water. I tried going from one side of an area Id been fishing to the other without going out and back around. I just chose the wrong path.

Ive been stuck before, but Ive never been stuck so bad where I had to push it 100 yards to get it loose.

His confidence wasnt shaken one bit, though. He went out with a goal to catch 15 pounds this morning and it took him all of 15 minutes to get that done.

I didnt really fish any of my good stuff or places I know I can get bites, he said. I fished one place like that and caught six and left and looked the rest of the day. I wish I could keep my weight from these two days, but it is what it is. Im extremely confident in what Im doing, and I havent seen anyone fishing the same areas, so Im hoping it goes well.

The big mover of the day was Mark Rose, who rocketed into the top 5 after starting the day in 22nd. While most in the field tried to get something going under a thick blanket of fog in the morning, Rose used a 26-bass, 39-pound first period to become the only angler to come from the below the cut line to earn at least one more day on the water.

Rose tallied 44 bass today for 67-08, more than doubling the 29-10 he totaled during the Shotgun Round. His 97-02 total put him fourth overall, about 1 1/2 pounds behind Greg Vinson and Stephen Browning, who both finished with 98-11.

Brent Ehrler held down the fifth spot for the second straight day, finishing with 96-02 after catching 42-14 (25 bass) today.

Among those eliminated today were BPT Stage One winner Jordan Lee (25th), Stage Six winner Aaron Martens (27th) as well as reigning Bassmaster Classic champion Ott DeFoe, who was competing this week after undergoing heart surgery last month.

MLF used a snake-seeding format to determine which anglers will fish which day of the Knockout Round. The two groups will be as follows:

> Friday: Greg Vinson, Stephen Browning, Mike Iaconelli, Mark Daniels Jr., Michael Neal, Andy Morgan, Jacob Powroznik, Edwin Evers, Jacob Wheeler, Jeff Sprague.

> Saturday: Zack Birge, Mark Rose, Brent Ehrler, Randall Tharp, Greg Hackney, Takahiro Omori, Todd Faircloth, Fred Roumbanis, Brandon Palaniuk, Casey Ashley.

For the Knockout Round, the weights from the Shotgun and Elimination rounds will be zeroed, meaning the Redcrest is now a series of one-day shootouts to determine who goes home with the $300,000 top prize. The top five finishers in each Knockout Round group will advance to the Championship Round on Sunday, when the weights will be zeroed again.

Conditions are expected to remain stable through the weekend with mostly sunny skies and no rain in the forecast. Anglers not competing Friday will be allowed a four-hour ride-through period at Pool 7, which will host the Championship Round. Likewise, the anglers who survive the Knockout Round Friday can check out Pool 7 on Saturday.

Rose, who turned 48 today, started the day less than three pounds behind Wesley Strader in 20th and he didnt waste any time surging up the leaderboard. With 26 bass caught in the 2 1/2-hour first period, he averaged a fish every 5 minutes, 45 seconds. Birge and Greg Hackney were the only anglers to catch 20 pounds in the first period today.

It feels good, Rose said. With this caliber of fishermen, when you have to make up ground, you have your back against the wall, especially at a place like this where the guys in front of you are going to catch them because of how many fish there are.

I knew I had my work cut out for me, but the Good Lord and the fish gave me a nice birthday present.

He was able to lay off one particular area he has confidence in and that has him feeling optimistic about Saturday.

I have a couple places I really like and I was able to save one of them today, he said. One of them really showed out beyond my expectations. It was fast and furious for a short time, then it was completely over.

If they were to fire like that for an hour again, I could utilize my other spot and give myself an opportunity.



Weather Forecast

> Fri., Aug. 23 Mix of Clouds and Sun 78/56
- Wind: From the ESE at 5 to 10 mph

> Sat., Aug. 24 Partly Cloudy 80/62
- Wind: From the SSE at 10 to 15 mph

> Sun., Aug. 25 Partly Cloudy 81/69
- Wind: From the SSE at 10 to 20 mph

Elimination Round Results

1. Zack Birge -- 50, 81-15 -- 19, 35-02 -- 69, 117-01

2. Greg Vinson -- 31, 48-07 -- 29, 50-04 -- 60, 98-11

3. Stephen Browning -- 35, 64-10 -- 18, 34-01 -- 53, 98-11

4. Mark Rose -- 18, 29-10 -- 44, 67-08 -- 62, 97-02

5. Brent Ehrler -- 31, 53-04 -- 25, 42-14 -- 56, 96-02

6. Mike Iaconelli -- 34, 55-04 -- 24, 36-02 -- 58, 91-06

7. Mark Daniels, Jr. -- 29, 47-04 -- 26, 40-08 -- 55, 87-12

8. Randall Tharp -- 21, 37-15 -- 25, 45-05 -- 46, 83-04

9. Greg Hackney -- 24, 39-11 -- 26, 43-03 -- 50, 82-14

10. Michael Neal -- 35, 51-00 -- 20, 31-07 -- 55, 82-07

11. Andy Morgan -- 26, 52-09 -- 11, 25-12 -- 37, 78-05

12. Takahiro Omori -- 28, 47-11 -- 17, 30-07 -- 45, 78-02

13. Todd Faircloth -- 32, 47-06 -- 16, 30-11 -- 48, 78-01

14. Jacob Powroznik -- 16, 37-15 -- 20, 40-00 -- 36, 77-15

15. Edwin Evers -- 26, 40-03 -- 24, 36-15 -- 50, 77-02

16. Fred Roumbanis -- 35, 61-03 -- 9, 15-05 -- 44, 76-08

17. Brandon Palaniuk -- 28, 51-00 -- 16, 24-11 -- 44, 75-11

18. Jacob Wheeler -- 24, 42-15 -- 15, 29-02 -- 39, 72-01

19. Jeff Sprague -- 27, 49-01 -- 12, 22-06 -- 39, 71-07

20. Casey Ashley -- 23, 42-06 -- 16, 28-05 -- 39, 70-11

The following anglers missed the cut and will not compete in the Knockout Round.

21. Wesley Strader -- 19, 32-11 -- 16, 26-05 -- 35, 59-00 -- $6,000

22. Dustin Connell -- 8, 17-15 -- 21, 39-04 -- 29, 57-03 -- $6,000

23. Andy Montgomery -- 16, 26-13 -- 16, 29-02 -- 32, 55-15 -- $6,000

24. Cody Meyer -- 18, 31-12 -- 14, 22-07 -- 32, 54-03 -- $6,000

25. Jordan Lee -- 13, 23-10 -- 15, 26-10 -- 28, 50-04 -- $6,000

26. Ott DeFoe -- 17, 29-05 -- 13, 18-13 -- 30, 48-02 -- $6,000

27. Aaron Martens -- 11, 20-06 -- 14, 21-08 -- 25, 41-14 -- $6,000

28. Bradley Roy -- 15, 22-01 -- 12, 18-11 -- 27, 40-12 -- $6,000

29. Jared Lintner -- 10, 17-04 -- 10, 17-00 -- 20, 34-04 -- $6,000

30. Bobby Lane -- 7, 11-05 -- 6, 13-08 -- 13, 24-13 -- $6,000