For the second week in a row, a two-pound penalty for having six fish in the livewell may determine the outcome of a B.A.S.S. tournament. It happened to Shane LeHew in the Elite Series event at Alabama's Lake Eufaula last week. The two-pound penalty kept LeHew from making Sunday's Top 10 final, and allowed eventual tournament winner Buddy Gross to squeak into the 10th spot after Day 3.
And it has happened today to unofficial tournament leader John Garrett. It happens more often than you'd think. In a flurry of fish catches, it's easy to lose track of how many bass are in the livewell. But the occurrences aren't often as dramatic as those of the last week.
"My stomach's been torn up about that sixth fish," said Garrett earlier on Bassmaster LIVE. "I made a mistake, and I'm not sure what happened."
It's too early to determine if Garrett's penalty will hurt his chances for victory. Hamper, yes. But he's got a better than average five-bass limit for the Arkansas River this week, even with the penalty.
Gross was asked about his good luck in barely making the top 10 Saturday before grabbing the title with a 27-pound, 4-ounce bag on Sunday at Eufaula. Gross noted that he'd lost a 7-pounder on Day 1 when his kill switch lanyard got caught in his reel. So his luck evened out.
"When it's meant to be, you can't get out of the way of it," laughed Gross.
Maybe it's meant to be for John Garrett today, two-pound penalty and all.