FORT WORTH, Texas — Anglers heading north and hitting boat docks excelled on the first day of the Bassmaster Memorial, the season's first major.
"It was pretty much just like we said. Those who hit the docks ending up doing better," said Mark Perry, one of two Fort Worth area tournament anglers who were asked by Bassmaster.com to assess how the 55 pros would do this week on Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth.
"The guys who went up north fishing big baits around docks for big bass are pretty much leading," said Chad Tregellas. "Kevin VanDam (50th place, 2 fish, 2 pounds, 10 ounces) stayed south and was looking around the dams all day long. That won't work for you on this lake. You can catch a limit, but you're not going to get on the big ones."
Both local anglers noted that many pros missed catching a limit and that big bass bolstered several decent bags.
"I think you will see a noticeable drop in all weights," Perry said. "Those struggling today are going to struggle even more tomorrow. The lake is going to show its nature now. The fish are pressured and spooked. There were no clouds today. I think they're going to be a little more aware and little more cautious."
Tregellas was on the water and watched several anglers hit the northern docks, where he and Perry said were the prime locations to find fish on Eagle Mountain this time of year. He said big half-ounce and three-quarter ounce jigs were the lure of choice.
"Mike Iaconnelli was up there and we saw him catch a few," he said. "Tomorrow it's supposed to be windier, so the power fisherman, those with big baits and who cover a lot of water, should do better.
"The fish are really grouped up. You can find three or four keepers on one dock. These fish out here are very nomadic."
Perry said the northern docks remain the best chance to advance.
"I would use what I had today, but I would go into the day with an open mind," he said. "I would hit my areas, and change on the fly. You can't die on the same spots. I think the docks are still going to play a part.
"The sun is going to shine again, a repeat with maybe higher temps. The guys who get there first and get the first few casts are going to do well. You could use different baits, with different presentation. The jack-of-all-trade type will do better tomorrow."
Perry said he likes the chances of Greg Hackney, Mike Iaconnelli, Rick Clunn and Gary Klein.
"I think if anybody has a homefield advantage, it's him," he said of Klein, who's from nearby Weatherford. "He's versatile and I'd say he's on to something. He's just got smaller fish. But the guys who got limits today, I think they would start moving up tomorrow."
Perry and Tregellas said they think the cut to the top 12 for Saturday should be near 26 pounds. But they wouldn't be surprised if an angler down the leaderboard makes a move.