Toledo Bend gave up 14 pounds, 6 ounces to the Louisiana native (39th place), a respectable catch putting him within easy reach of the Day Two cut. So, he wasn't upset about his performance.
"This was a very emotional day for me," Conella said.
"I caught my very first bass on Toledo Bend when I was about 3 years old. I was fishing with my dad. It was just the first bass of many that I would catch with him throughout my life. We fished this lake a lot together," the 41-year-old said.
Sadly, Conella lost his father February 14 to cancer.
"I visited spots today where me and dad fished. I'd think about certain bass he had caught, and I'd make that same cast."
Conella paused to compose himself.
"And when I'd catch a fish today I just thought how crazy it is that after 30-some-odd years how far I have come in this sport. The thing is, my dad started taking me fishing before I could fish. And a lot of what I know I learned from my father."
The lessons were good, as Conella has 35 Top 50 finishes since he started competing on the Elite Series level in 2006.
"Before dad died it was really nice for us to be able to share time on this lake together. Now when I'm on Toledo Bend, it still feels like we are fishing side by side."