ZAPATA, Texas — Here's a sampling of what went down Friday at the Rigid Industries Falcon Slam weigh-in, which may have been one of the wilder shows in Bassmaster Elite Series history:
1) Cliff Crochet couldn't talk and his hands were shaking for at least five minutes after he weighed 35 pounds, 3 ounces. When he finally could speak, he admitted the size of the five bass in the weigh-in bag made him so nervous that he'd chucked lunch over the side of his boat;
2) Four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn set a personal record for his best five-bass limit, with 32-9;
3) Skeet Reese zoomed from 84th place Thursday to 30th place Friday with 32-4.
And that's only a hint of the highlights, capped by Keith Combs stretching his 4-pound Day One lead to 7-7 on Day Two with a total of 62-14.
But nothing in the weigh-in fireworks came easily for the anglers who managed to make the top 50 cut for Saturday, including Combs.
“I had a two-pounder with three minutes to go, and I was able to get rid of it with a six,” Combs said. “You don't know if you're going to catch anything out there. But you might catch 45 or 50 pounds.”
Combs, who is from Huntington, Texas, estimated his Day One bag of 34-13 would have weighed 45 pounds, if they hadn't been in the post-spawn stage. But there are still Falcon Lake monsters in shallow water spawning, adding to the intrigue for the final two days of this event. The field will be cut to 12 after Saturday, and obviously, anything could happen.
Reese led the leaderboard movers Friday – following a four-fish, 11-8 day with his 32-4. But he wasn't the only story of rising from the ashes. Clark Reehm flipped his numbers – going from 72nd with 13-11 to 27th with 30-12.
“I had no pressure on me because I sucked so bad yesterday,” Reehm said. “Catching my two biggest early helped out a lot. It helped me slow down.”
Reehm's bag included the following: 7-14, 6-6, 6-2, 5-12 and 4-10.
“I had that 4-10 on the balance beam four times,” said Reehm, referring to his opportunities to add a few ounces to his bag.
It didn't matter if you were an accomplished 66-year-old veteran, like Clunn, or a 29-year-old second-year Elite Series pro, like Crochet, Friday left your hands shaking and a sense of wonder about what could happen on Falcon Lake.
When Clunn was standing in line at the weigh-in tanks behind stage, someone asked him about the heaviest five-bass bag of his storied history.
“I think you're looking at it,” Clunn said.
If he's done better, it didn't come to mind.
“I had 32 pounds at Kentucky Lake one time, including four smallmouth, but that was with a six-fish limit,” he said. “And I had more than that at the (1984) Classic, but that was a 10-fish limit.”
When a 28-time Classic qualifier and 11-time Classic top-five finisher has a personal record day, it's a story. But Crochet's speechless state backstage after weighing the big bag of the tournament so far was simply classic.
He answered the first half-dozen or so questions from reporters with nothing other than long drinks off a water bottle. Finally, when an answer came from his mouth, it made you want to back up.
“When I started bagging them, I got sick,” Crochet said. “It's possible I could still throw up.”
He finally started to explain his day in a slow Cajun drawl, while his hands were shaking like a man meeting his future in-laws for the first time.
“I got sick because this has been a long time coming – to weigh a big bag in an Elite Series tournament,” Crochet said. “It may not be every kid's dream, but it has always been mine.”
Even Crochet's wildest dreams didn't include weighing a 10-pound, 1-ounce largemouth bass, like he did Friday.
That's the thing about Falcon Lake: it keeps hopes alive for another day.