CLARKSVILLE, Va. — Keeping his cool in hot conditions was the key for Virginia angler John Conway, who leads the first day of the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional on Kerr Lake with a five-bass limit that weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces.
“I used a mix of reaction baits and slower presentations today,” Conway said. “I started out with moving baits in the morning and then went to flipping in the afternoon. In this hot weather, they’d tuck up under the shade when the sun got up.”
With overcast skies greeting anglers at the morning take-off, Conway said he threw a buzzbait during the early morning hours. He then transitioned to flipping jigs and big Texas-rigged worms later in the day.
Deeper docks in 10-12 feet of water were his main flipping targets. No one spot produced particularly well, so Conway had to hit approximately 25 locations.
“It was just a whole lot of moving and a whole lot of casting,” he said.
Residing in Varina, Va., Conway is a member of the Big M Bassmasters Club. He holds a 13-ounce lead over second-place competitor, Michael Sentore, of Gloucester City, N.J., who caught four bass for 11 pounds.
Overall, the Day 1 weights were light. The average fish was a little more than 2 pounds. The Top 10 had 8 pounds or more, but the vast majority of competitors brought in 3 to 6 pounds for their total weight. Only eight anglers boasted limits.
Tomorrow’s forecast shows more sunny conditions for Day 2. Mike Bryant, president of the Virginia B.A.S.S. Nation, said he thought the weights were a little lower than anticipated. Many of his team members reported that the bass were non-committal, and several anglers said they lost fish that hit hard, but avoided solid hookups.
“This lake changes every day, so tomorrow we may see everybody bring in limits,” Bryant said.
Conway not only leads the overall tournament; he also is tops on the Virginia team, which is in second place behind leader Delaware. The Delaware B.A.S.S. Nation state team has one angler in the Top 10 and a 13-pound, 3-ounce lead for the state competition. Delaware has 74 pounds, 1 ounce, followed by Virginia, the host state, with 60-13, and New Jersey with 57-13.
If Conway maintains his lead for Virginia, he’ll be invited to the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Nov. 6-8, on Louisiana’s Ouachita River. Other state leaders as of Day 1 are Jason Vaughn, Delaware; Joe Devoe, Maryland; Michael Sentore, New Jersey; Mike Moran, Pennsylvania; and Randy Huffman, West Virginia.
Ronald Littleton’s 5-pound, 1-ounce bass is currently in the lead for Carhartt Big Bass honors, a $500 prize awarded to the angler who catches the biggest bass of the tournament. The competitor who has the overall tournament lead Thursday will win the $250 Livingston Lures Leader award, which goes to the Day 2 leader.
Competition resumes Thursday at 5:45 a.m. ET for the launch at Occoneechee State Park. The weigh-in will be broadcast live at 2 p.m. ET on Bassmaster.com.