LUCAS, Ky. -- Fishing was tough, but not as tough as some had feared, following flooding rains and then a 2 ½-hour delay to the start of Day One because of fog.
"It was different water out there today," Kentucky's Mike Dennie said.
Just four anglers managed limits in the opening round of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter on Barren River Lake, a 10,000-acre impoundment overflowing its banks. Still, 84 anglers from seven states managed to bring in 136 fish, including several 5-pound-plus largemouths.
Led by Tennessee with 64-7, five teams are within 8 pounds of the top spot. South Carolina has 60-5, Kentucky 58-4, North Carolina 57-9, and Alabama 57-0.
Florida follows with 44-13, while Georgia has 25-14, with 6 pounds of that coming on Mike Marshall's big bass for Day One.
Tournament Manager Jon Stewart said that the Monday night and Tuesday morning rains really dampened hopes for those who were finding fish in brush at the backs of coves.
"Guys were catching lots of fish and there was talk of 20-pound bags," he said.
"If the water hadn't come up like this, I'd bet that 80 percent would have had limits," said Anthony Roy, Kentucky B.A.S.S. Federation Nation president. "And if the water will stay stable now and the temperatures warm, the bite will be better tomorrow."
Still, Tennessee fisherman Mark Pierce did manage a 19-3 limit, followed by South Carolina's Josh Warren with 17-6.
"The bite today was definitely tougher (than in practice)," Pierce said. "The fish are spread out and scattered."
Neither Pierce nor Warren would reveal how they caught their fish, but the South Carolina angler told the crowd, "Kentucky, you have a great fishery!"
Alabama's Jamie Horton and Kentucky's Gerald Weber also boasted limits, while North Carolina's Stephen Dyer brought in four quality bass that weighed 12-9.
With mild weather and light winds predicted for Day Two, even more quality fish should be brought in on this Barren River fishery that consistently ranks as one of Kentucky's best in terms of fish per acre.
Friday, meanwhile, could see the water rise once again, as more rain is forecast.
In the aftermath of the first flooding, B.A.S.S. was forced to hastily move its weigh-in site uphill Wednesday morning, as competitors were heading out to look for fish along the flooded shorelines.
"We got some great, great help from the Corps (of Engineers) to do that," Stewart said.