FORT MADISON, Iowa -- Despite mild temperatures and gentle breezes, the Mighty Mississippi fished tough today.
A total of 96 anglers launched this morning for the first day of fishing at the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Divisional presented by Skeeter and Yamaha, but only 17 caught limits. A total of 54 anglers caught two fish or less. Click here for the official Day One team standings.
Understandably, most of the anglers were played it close to the vest when asked about successes. Still, some trends quickly became apparent as they talked among themselves at the weigh-in.
The best pattern seemed to be flipping and pitching to shallow cover. The most popular target was wood. And, those anglers with the heavier sacks were able to follow the bass out as the water dropped and the fishing pressure increased.
“The river is fishing small, very small,” said Brian Christianson, a Wisconsin angler who stands third with 11 pounds, 3 ounces, less than a pound out of the lead. “The pressure and dropping water are really affecting the fish. I expect tomorrow to be even tougher, and Friday tougher than that. I’m really glad I caught a nice bag today.
“I’m flipping and pitching a Sweet Beaver, but I’m not doing it in the conventional manner. My technique is different. The presentation has to be precise and you have to know exactly where the fish are moving. This is not an easy tournament.”
Todd Serfoss, a South Dakota angler in fifth, generally agrees.
“The fish are certainly going negative, but they’re still river fish,” he said. “I caught mine today in really shallow water. I think that pattern will hold if I can get back in there tomorrow. I’m a little worried about it going dry.”
After one day, Wisconsin stands atop the team standings followed by Iowa and Michigan. South Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota round out the state field.
Brian Christianson leads the individual anglers from Wisconsin; Thad Takes leads in Iowa; Peter Tuls is at the head of the pack in Michigan; and Todd Serfoss claims the first slot in South Dakota. Bryan McNeal is leading the Ohio team; Matt McCoy leads in Indiana; Greg Heindselman claims first place in Illinois and Tom Kiefer leads Minnesota.
The individual leader is Matt McCoy with 11-15. Big bass honors went to Bob Garman from Iowa with a 3-14 largemouth.