COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Temperatures swung upwards more than 30 degrees between practice and the first day of the BASS Federation Nation Western Divisional on Coeur d'Alene Lake, but anglers still managed to drop 10 stringers over 20 pounds onto the scales.
After the first day's weigh-in concluded on May 14, Arizona's Murray White was leading the board with 23 pounds, 2 ounces.
"We started on (my partner's) fish, and I caught two off his spot," the non-boater said. "When it was my turn to take the boat, I said, 'Let's go.'"
The move to White's area proved fruitful, and the angler soon boated the rest of his limit. Largemouth provided most of the weight.
"I only had two smallies," he said. "The rest were nice largemouths."
While tightlipped about his pattern, White acknowledged that he "had to flip plastic to get the big fish."
The heavy sack was no surprise.
"My fish were there, and they were there on three different days," he explained.
That consistency through the weather changes, which included snow in mountains surrounding the picturesque lake, boosted his confidence. And White said he expected even more action if predictions of a continued warming trend hold true.
"I think it's going to make it even better," White said. "I think it'll help reload my area and the bigger fish will come in."
Making White's showing even more impressive is the fact that he was fishing the event only because one of the Arizona team members was unable to participate.
"I'm an alternate," he said. "I wasn't even supposed to be here."
The Western Divisional is actually three competitions: One for the overall win, another among the members of the 11 participating state teams and a third competition to determine which team comes out on top.
While the overall winner takes home cash and prizes, each state team leader after three days of fishing earns the right to advance to the BASS Federation Nation Championship slated for November on Kansas' Milford Lake. Those anglers then compete for a coveted spot at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.
The state team members accumulating the most weight by the third day earns top dollar for their BASS Federation Nation chapter.
Idaho handily leads the team competition going into the second day on the strength of their weight of 172 pounds, 9 ounces. Oregon lags behind in second with 141-5, while Montana is farther back with 124-8.
Others joining White as state team leaders after the first day were Pat Wilson, California; Dave Gerhardt, Colo.; Brandon Palaniuk, Idaho; Jim Armstrong, Montana; Tim Myers, Nev.; Mickey Trousdale, N.M.; Mike Baskett, Ore.; Mike Powell, Utah; Jim Garrett, Wash.; and Bubba O'Neill, Wyo.