SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Leading a BASS tournament for the first time in his life, Craig Nels, 23, is ecstatic about today's performance on the water. Nels pulled in an impressive 17 pounds, 9 ounces from Oneida Lake's depths on Day 1 of the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open. A resident of Baldwinsville, N.Y., Nels lives just 18 miles from Oneida Lake. He fishes Oneida regularly, but this day's catch came from an area he visited just this past week during practice.
"It is totally different from everything I'd normally fish … I have spots that will catch 12- to 13-pound bags, but I had to find places other anglers weren't going to get on," Nels said.
Nels is looking for a smallmouth bite around weedy humps and grass edges. He's using a Leverage spinnerbait on a 17-pound test silver-thread line as well as Yum tubes on an 8-pound fluorocarbon.
David Marion of Cold Spring, N.Y., trailed Nels by a mere 11 ounces with a total weight of 16-14. He brought four large and one smallmouth bass to the scales, getting about 20 bites during the day.
"(During practice) I tried 40 to 50 different lures, but one caught them every time," Marion said, not disclosing which lure was his favorite. "I used that one lure and worked it all day….I'm fishing in a 100-yard area of weed beds."
Joey Rodrigues of Danbury, Conn., is currently in third with a limit of 16-10. Lake Erie CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open winner Paul Hirosky of Guy Mills, Pa., is in fourth with 16-9 and Rick Morris of Lanexa, Va., rounds out the top five boaters with 16-4.
On the non-boater side, Andrew Hammond of Fulton, N.Y., leads with 16-13. Hammonds is fishing for smallmouth in scattered weeds and rock piles using tubes and spinnerbaits.
"I got lucky," Hammond smiled. "I was on good fish all day."
Hammond is followed by David Hovanec of Unionville, N.Y., with 14-11 and George Hirapetian of North Babylon, N.Y., with 14-8.
Location and Field
CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open