SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Jared Lintner woke up in a panic Thursday morning.
His alarm sounded at 5:30 a.m., and when he rolled over, he saw something from the comfort of his bed that sent a chill down his spine and dropped his stomach to his knees — daylight.
"I woke up and saw that it was light outside and I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I'm late,'" Lintner said. "I'm just trained to think that way. It's kind of weird getting out of the normal routine."
It may be weird, but the 8 a.m. launch for the Bassmaster Memorial presented by Evan Williams Bourbon is certainly not unwelcome when the "normal routine" is launches at or before 6 a.m. (or whenever the sun decides to rise on that day). The only problem with getting up early, Lintner said, is that there is no mid-morning brunch bite the anglers can take advantage of.
"The only thing we are losing right now is the early-morning topwater bite," he said. "But I don't think it's going to make much of a difference. During practice, I was getting some largemouth bites later in the day, so you never know."
None of the anglers interviewed on the shore of Oneida Lake on Thursday morning seemed to have much of a problem with the late start.
"There are some places where it would probably really hurt us, but not here," said Kevin VanDam, who then explained that the morning bite isn't that strong on Oneida.
Bill Lowen seemed to think that it would help, if anything.
"Smallmouth are pretty notorious for getting up on the flats and cruising and roaming through the middle of the day, so it makes it a little easier to catch them when they're up there," Lowen said. "Also, the sun is going to get a little higher later in the day and maybe it will push some of those largemouth up under the docks."
Even an early-morning, big-fish angler like Ish Monroe seemed content to be dreaming about catching largemouth at 6 a.m.
"I like the early-morning topwater bite, myself," Monroe said. But he said he expected the late cloud cover to offset the loss of the dawn hours.
The later take-off also affects anglers' eating habits. Monroe said that he actually ate a decent breakfast on Thursday morning, highlighted by blueberry bread that John Crews' in-laws made, and eggs by Mike Iaconelli.
"I dig it," said Fred Roumbanis, winner of the Bassmaster American in May, when weigh-ins were held in front of sparse crowds at the Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. "I think it's better for the fans. I think we'll see bigger weigh-ins."
Angler Brent Chapman also liked the thought of holding up two monster smallmouth in front of a huge crowd.
"Most people are still working at 3 and 4 in the afternoon," Chapman said. "People are always looking for something to do in the evening."
Counting the Bassmaster Classic, Thursday was the 42nd takeoff for the Elite Series anglers this year, and it was the first where they could prepare their tackle in the daylight. With cuts and majors and disqualifications, no angler has been at every takeoff, but tournament director Trip Weldon pretty much has. He said they had late weigh-ins in the Elite 50s in 2004 and 2005, and they were a "huge success."
"It's not going to affect the fishing here much because it is such a great lake," Weldon said.
So why not do this more often? Almost all of anglers said they favored the later take-off for the long-term. "I'd love to see it in February and March, when it's a bedfish bite," Monroe said.
Jason Quinn added: "We get to explore those afternoon hours and this time of year, you actually get a few better bites that time of day. I'm actually really looking forward to it."
But Weldon said it would be an all or nothing decision if they did decide to go late.
"With you having the Angler of the Year race and the 11 Elite Series events throughout the year, you want to stay consistent," Weldon said. "I don't know if it will be something we consistently do in the future, but I'm sure it will discussed.