Denny Brauer wasn't complaining about the five-bass 22-pound limit he caught to lead Day One of the Bassmaster Pride of Georgia presented by Evan Williams Bourbon. But he knows there's a "seven- or eight-pounder" swimming in Clarks Hill Lake that could have increased his lead considerably over the 3-pound, 1-ounce margin he carries into Day Two.
"I had one train wreck with a big fish that came off," Brauer said.
He hooked a big bass on a jig and had survived three aerial attempts by the the fish to throw the hook. He had the fish along side his boat and was preparing to land it when the bass made one last attempt to escape.
"Right as I'm getting ready to belly the fish, he opens his mouth and the jig came out," Brauer said. "Then I'm chasing him down the side of my boat with my hand underneath him. I got pretty wet out of that deal, but the results weren't pretty.
"Everybody loses fish, but when you've got your hands on one, that's pretty damn frustrating."
The "Accidental" Catch
Dave Wolak attributed an unlikely catch on Day One to a lucky Metallica shirt he wore under his tournament jersey.
"I saw a fish cruising around in practice," said Wolak, describing how he also noted two dark spots on the lake bed that day.
On Day One, as he scooted from one hole towards the next, Wolak suddenly recognized the two marked beds just ahead of his moving boat.
"I cast a worm at full speed with a spinning rod," Wolak said. "Then, the line moved about five feet to the right."
The fish he had eyeballed during practice was hooked and the self-admitted lucky cast contributed to Wolak's 15-3-pound first day—good for 11th place.
On Day One, Women's Bassmaster Tour pro Marcia Rubin, from Ohio, fished the co-angler side of her first Elite Series event.
"People were struggling out there," she said. "I lost a nice one in the morning, too."
The female angler learned many things fishing from the back of the boat. In particular, she learned patience.
"It's teaching me to bite my tongue," Rubin said.
Accustomed to making the decisions for herself during a WBT tournament, Rubin noted how sitting back and going with the flow created a challenge for her on Day One.
"As a pro, I can position my boat to where I need it to be," she said. "It's a lot different out here."
Rubin fared well, however, as her 8-14-pound stringer, places her in 13th place heading into Day Two.
Father Knows Best
Bassmaster Classic 2008 champion Alton Jones felt good about his Day One efforts. His 16-12 total put him in eighth place going into Friday's action. But Jones beamed with pride even more after his son climbed down from the Elite Series stage.
Sixteen-year-old Alton Jones, Jr. had just completed competing in his first Elite Series event on the co-angler side in the boat alongside pro Scott Rook.
"I had some bad luck," said Jones, Jr. "But it was a lot of fun because I got to watch him (Rook)."
The younger Jones learned an early lesson that cost him several pounds en route to his 4-13 Day One.
"Don't swing a two-pounder into the boat on six-pound test line," he said.
Alton Jones, Jr. finished the day in 49th place on the co-angler side.
Charles Harbin meet Chuck Harbin
According to BASS communications director Doug Grassian, tournament director Trip Weldon gave weigh-in duties to senior manager of tournaments Chuck Harbin for the Pride of Georgia presented by Evan Williams Bourbon.
"After Falcon and Amistad, he was lifting tons," said Grassian, joking about the much-needed reprieve for Weldon.
When co-angler Charles Harbin came across the stage to hand his fish to Chuck Harbin, emcee Keith Alan said, "Charles Harbin meet Charles Harbin."
After both men laughed about the coincidence and the co-angler left the stage, Alan offered more public words to the senior manager.
"I thought you were one-of-a-kind, Chuck," Alan said. "I didn't know there was another Charles Harbin in the mix."
The Two That Got Away
Randy Howell sat in 35th place after Day One, ruing the fact that he nearly caught one more big fish — and one big bait.
Howell said he broke a line while casting. As the bait was "a $17 Lucky Craft bait," he cast at the floating lure, hoping to retrieve it. That's when a 4-pounder busted on his broken-off bait. Howell said the fish jumped three times trying to shake off his bait.
Meanwhile, Howell kept casting at the line, trying to reel in his bait and the big fish. Alas, he missed both, losing both his bait and a couple of pounds on a sure cull.
"We're here a couple of weeks early and a couple of weeks late." — Jared Lintner, 26th place
"It was a little frustrating at times, but I got through it." — Bernie Schultz, 59th place
"What a difference from Texas, man." — Mike Iaconelli, 85th place
"This lake owes me. It really does." — Marty Stone, 44th place
"I pretty much fished like I was on crack the last two days." — Skeet Reese, 29th place
"I'd kill him if he's lying to me. In his sleep." — Jeff Kriet, on sharing information with his roommate and last year's Pride of Georgia winner, Mike McClelland
"That's about what he left me, was four fish." — co-angler Terry Watson, explaining why he missed a limit while fishing with Davy Hite, who finished Day One in second place
"Any stable weather pattern, and this lake will show its true colors." — Jason Williamson, 43rd
"That's a monumental moment for me on this lake." — Edwin Evers, 12th place
"I've been sick all week, and now you probably will be, too, with me standing here breathing on you." — Day One leader Denny Brauer to weigh-in emcee Keith Alan
"You were with Denny Brauer. I don't want to touch you." — Dean Rojas to Alan, weighing in just after Brauer
"Everywhere we've been we've been whacking the big ones. I got tired of that."
Bill Lowen, 6 pounds, 96th place
"I'd like to see clouds and wind—anything but this."
Derek Remitz, 9-15, 64th place
"I'm going to play par putt-putt all week."
Mark Menendez, 10-1, 62nd