PELL CITY, Ala. — T-shirt weather welcomed a field of 157 pros and co-anglers to Logan Martin Lake on the first day of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open. The bass were also part of the welcoming committee. Limits were the norm for the majority of the anglers.
Elite Series pro and 2012 Bassmaster Classic Champion Chris Lane brought 18 pounds, 10 ounces of bass to the scales to snatch the lead. His sack also included a 5-pound, 8-ounce largemouth, which made him the Carhartt Big Bass Leader of the day.
Although most of the anglers are catching spotted bass, Lane is working his magic on largemouth bass in skinny water. Many other fishermen, including some of the Elite pros competing in this event, lamented that the falling water put the whammy on their shallow-water largemouth bite.
Lane solved the puzzle today. Can he do it again on Day 2?
“I didn't get a lot of bites,” Lane said. “I just put my head down, fished hard and had fun.”
The 4 1/2-pounder that Lane caught early in the day helped him dial in to what the bass were doing.
“If I can get seven bites tomorrow, I'll be a happy camper,” Lane said.
David Kilgore of Jasper, Ala., caught a mixed bag of largemouth and spotted bass to hold second place with 16 pounds, 7 ounces. He culled several times, but says the bite was tougher than it had been in practice.
“I'm fishing points and docks,” Kilgore said. “A lot of other people are doing the same thing, so the pressure has made things tougher.”
Despite the fishing pressure, Kilgore is optimistic about what tomorrow will bring. The key will be getting a few of the “right bites” in the morning, Kilgore believes.
The day started slowly for Elite Series pro Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark. He had been catching big largemouth extremely shallow in practice. He went for them first thing, but the fish vanished due to the falling water.
Browning eventually gave up on the largemouth, started fishing for spotted bass on the main lake and caught his first keeper three hours after takeoff. He then proceeded to catch 40 spotted bass and cull his way to a third place tie with Alvin Shaw. Both anglers had 16 pounds even.
An interesting note, Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., followed Browning into the shallow bay that both of them fished first thing this morning. DeFoe also bailed on the area, but managed to bring in 15 pounds, 12 ounces of largemouth and spotted bass. He's sitting pretty in fifth place.
Browning has already qualified for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic by winning the first Central Open last month. Even so, he would love to pocket the $10,000 check and the boat and motor package awarded to the winner of the pro division.
James Harrison of Anniston, Ala., leads the co-anglers with 11 pounds, 3 ounces. His three-bass limit included largemouth and spotted bass.
“I fished with Christiana Bradley today,” Harrison said. “She caught a good limit, and I had a great time fishing with her.”
The co-angler Carhartt Big Bass Leader of the day was Eulon Lee Jr. of Montgomery, Ala., with a 4-pound, 11-ounce largemouth.
After Friday's weigh-in, the field will be cut to the Top 12 pros and co-anglers. They will compete on Saturday. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.