DANDRIDGE, Tenn. - Bobby Ferguson of Chuckey, Tenn., was in the right places at the right times on Day One of the third and final Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake. He’s a local known to catch hefty stringers from Douglas’ clear waters, and lived up to his billing today.
Ferguson isn’t the only local who’s doing well – 10 of the top 11 anglers are from the Volunteer State. Ferguson caught a five-fish pro limit that weighed 25 pounds, 4 ounces, nearly 6 1/2 pounds ahead of second place.
“I’d catch a few fish, then they’d shut off, then I’d catch a few more,” he said. “It was on and off all day long.”
Ferguson was understandably reluctant to reveal much in the way of his tactics, but did say that he relied on a combination of old and new spots, some of which he scoped out in practice. Like most of the top pros, Ferguson was fishing deep water. As far as his pattern holding up for tomorrow, he said he’s curious as to how well his spots will do.
“I guess we’ll go out tomorrow and see,” he said.
Behind Ferguson is Gary Pilkenton of Morristown, Tenn. Pilkenton brought five fish to the scales that weighed 18-13. He too had a limit. Unlike Ferguson, Pilkenton was in the fish all day long.
“We (Pilkenton and his co-angler) probably caught between 175 and 200 fish today,” he said. “It was great.”
Pilkenton caught his fish in deep water using a pattern that has been working for the past few weeks. He says that despite many other anglers fishing the same way he is, he has an area all to himself.
“We fished one hole all day today, and we’re gong to fish one other hole tomorrow,” he said. “I’m hoping to have 15 or 18 pounds tomorrow. That’ll be key to winning this thing: consistency.”
In third place is Tim Smiley of White Pine, Tenn., who managed 18-9, in fourth is Rogne Brown of Hixson, Tenn., who weighed 18-5. Brown’s bag included the day’s biggest bass, a 6-12. Rounding out the top five is Mark Mauldin of Knoxville, Tenn., with 17-13.
Since this is the final Southern Open for 2011, Elite Series berths will be awarded to the top five finishers in the points race. The winner of this event will also gain an entry to the 2012 Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La., provided that they fished the first two Southern Opens.
On the co-angler side, the race is much tighter. Jason Yates of Dandridge, Tenn., took top honors after his 3-fish limit went 8-11. Hot on his heels is Tomas Gomez of Kissimmee, Fla., with 8-6. After several less-than-stellar finishes, Gomez was elated to be in second.
“This is a great start for me,” he said. “I’ve had some bad finishes in the first two events, so I’m thrilled and really emotional.”
In third place is Carl Jocumsen, who resides in Reseda, Calif., but is from Australia. Jocumsen caught 8-5. In fourth is Brad Smith of Brownsville, Tenn., with 8-2, and currently in fifth place is Dennis Ogle, of Kodak, Tenn., with 8-2.
Co-anglers are competing for a brand new Triton/Mercury rig.
The boats will launch daily at 6 a.m. ET from The Point Marina, 122 Boat Dock Drive, Dandridge, TN 37725. Weigh-ins will take place June 2-3 at 2 p.m. ET at the launch location. The final weigh-in, Saturday, June 4, moves to 3 p.m. ET at Bass Pro Shops, 3629 Outdoor Sportsmans Place, Kodak, TN 37764; 865-932-5600. All events are free and open to the public.