MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. — Oklahoma's Brad Hallman was less than optimistic about his chances of taking the lead after catching 13 pounds, 13 ounces of bass on the opening day of the Norfork Lake CITGO Bassmaster Central Open. Little did Hallman know — due to bluebird weather conditions and anglers' unfamiliarity with the fishery — his total was enough to take first place by more than a pound over his closest competitor.
"There is no way this will hold up," said Hallman, who was one of the first anglers to take the stage and weigh in. "I only caught five keeper bites all day, so what you see in that bag is all I have."
Hallman filled his limit throwing a Carolina-rigged green Baby Brush Hawg. Like many anglers this week, this visit to Norfork marks the first time he has seen the fishery.
Also a first-timer to Norfork Lake is Texan David Wharton, who trailed Hallman by a margin of 1 pound, 2 ounces. Wharton said he employed a totally different strategy than the rest of the field, albeit, one that he wouldn't reveal.
"No one is doing what I am doing," Wharton said. "I'd rather not say, but I will tell you I am catching all my fish shallow."
Rounding out the top five on the boater side are Ohio's Tim Dungan (12-1), Louisiana's Craig Dowling (10-4) and Alabama's Brannon Jones (10-2).
Noticeably missing from the top five on the boater side is a Natural State angler. The top Arkansas competitor was Vella Vista's Mike McClelland, in sixth place.
In the end, Arkansas' Mark Davis summed it up the best:"Today was just terrible," the 1995 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champ said. "But like always, I will be ready to catch them tomorrow."
Leading on the non-boater side was Louisiana's Nathan Bourque (6-4). Following Borque are Texan Rusty Harvey (6-1), Texan Harry Durham (4-14), Arkansas' Dewayne French and Texan Scott Darragh (4-13).
Location and Field
CITGO Bassmaster Central Open
Mountain Home, Ark