TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The home-town favorites from the University of Alabama have an early lead on Day One of the Woods & Water Alabama Invitational.
The team of Foster Bradley and Brent Frederick started off the tournament with a five-fish limit that weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces on a day that saw only half the field of 20 boats catch a limit.
Kyle Wood and Dan Huisman of Iowa State University are in second with 8 pounds, 4 ounces.
The remainder of the top six looks like this: Team Galloway/LeCroy from Faulkner University (3rd, 7-14), the defending champions Team Statum/Jones from the University of Alabama (4th, 7-5), Team Humphries/Hoffman also of the Crimson Tide (5th, 7-2), and Team Holderfield/Davis from the University of Montevallo (6th, 6-15).
While they may be leading the tournament, Bradley and Frederick insisted that their day wasn't without difficulties.
"It started out really, really bad," said Bradley. "We started out with one keeper by 7:30 and then around 8:30 we started catching fish."
The team from Alabama only caught 10 fish today, but they were not worried at all about the tough bite on Day One. In fact, they are confident that they can increase their weight on Day Two even though the weather forecast is expected to shift from overcast weather to sunny skies and hot temperatures.
"We didn't mess with our fish that much," said Frederick. "We found out something around 10:30 or 11:00 that I think is going to help us out tomorrow."
Iowa State University's team of Wood and Huisman had a long journey to get to Tuscaloosa.
"I was pre-fishing for a tournament up in Minnesota and then I had to drive three hours down to Iowa State, sleep for three hours, wake up, and drive another 13 hours and then start fishing again," said Wood.
Like the leaders, Wood and Huisman were understandably tight-lipped about the lures and pattern they were fishing, but they did mention that they started on the upper end of the lake and worked their way back, catching a mixed bag of spotted bass and largemouth bass.
Whenever college anglers are involved, there are always interesting stories of broken boats and difficult challenges. Day One of this event was no exception.
For example, everything went wrong for Daniel Douglas and Bradley Myer from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
"It [the boat] almost came off the trailer, the engine wouldn't start, we stayed up all night and didn't go to sleep," said Douglas. "It finally started at the boat ramp, but our boat must have been allergic to water, cause when we put it in it wouldn't start again."
Douglas said he plans to spend the night praying over it and then he'll just see what happens.
It wasn't just on the water mistakes that burdened anglers. The University of Alabama's Cameron Mitchell actually had to leave the lake for a final exam.
"One of the downsides of being a college bass fisherman is school and summer school," said Mitchell. "My final exam fell on Day One, so I had to leave the tournament at nine in the morning, go take a final, and I did not get back until 11:30."
On top of that, his partner David Rogers had the flu.
Did he pass the test?
"It was on Bear Bryant and Alabama football, so I hope I passed it," said Mitchell. "If I didn't maybe I'll just go to Auburn or Tennessee."