DANBURY, Conn. -- Only 6 ounces separates the top three anglers after the first day of competition in the BASS Federation Nation Eastern Divisional at Candlewood Lake.
Fishing in his first divisional, 41-year-old Greg Tesch of Middlebury, Conn., took over the lead with a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces.
Another Connecticut angler, Paul Mueller, moved into the runner-up spot with 15-3, while Rob Hyatt of Calander, Ontario, Canada, broke up any further Connecticut connection by moving into third with 15-2.
Fifteen years of experience fishing Candlewood Lake helped Tesch find fish even though the going was tough for him in practice.
"The fish are really being difficult," said Tesch, who was a non-boater paired with Rhode Island's Steven Worden. "Between the wind and those fall cold fronts that are starting to show up it is making it tough and the fish will change everyday."
The Heart of Connecticut club member estimated that Worden and he hit about 30 spots today.
"I think the fish are confused a little bit," said Tesch, who owns some Subway sandwich shops. "The water temperature has been going up and down and the water level is lower than usual, so it is challenging out there."
Mueller also had to do a lot of running and gunning to catch his limit.
"The full moon scattered the bait and it really scattered the fish," he said. "I didn't think it was going to have an impact on some of my better spots but it was really a grind. I just had to move around and get one here and one there."
Tesch is one of eight leaders vying for the top spot in their state and provincial team standings to qualify for a berth to the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship, amateur bass fishing's ultimate contest. Their daily catches are also added to the cumulative score of their 12-man teams as the states and Canadian province compete for a top prize of a Skeeter/Yamaha rig valued at $41,000.
Other competitors leading their team standings include George Cooper, Maine; Jason Ross, Massachusetts; Scott Parker, New Hampshire; Matthew Martin, New York; Rob Hyatt, Ontario, Canada; and Sean Alvarez, Vermont.
Host state Connecticut has set the pace in the team competition with 107 pounds 12 ounces, followed by Maine with 101-13.
The team champions and the top state or province of the Eastern Division will be determined at the conclusion of this three-day event on Friday.
Weigh-ins are being held at Danbury Town Park at 3 p.m. ET each day.