Kingwood, Texas, angler Dennis Fikes had a tough Day 1. He weighed two bass for a grand total of 5 pounds, 7 ounces. He was sitting in 137th place when the sun set, not exactly where he imagined he might be after the first day of his first Bassmaster Open.
"I knew my only hope was to catch five big ones. I decided to go to an area that I'd caught a lot of big bass in over the years. [In September 2007, he caught an 11-pound, 9-ounce giant from the same general area.]
"It's not a numbers place so I knew I was taking a chance, but I didn't feel like there was any other choice. When you're in the hole as deep as I was you have to take chances. Really, it was the only thing I knew to do.
"My spot is pretty much typical big bass country on Sam Rayburn — ledges and ridges that top out around 18 feet and then drop off into 35-40 feet of water. It's covered with brushpiles, but they usually hold the smaller ones. To catch the monsters you've got to hit the off areas away from the main brush."
With that in mind, Fikes tied on a Zoom Fluke (Mardi Gras), stuck a 4/0 Gamakatsu Wide Gap Round Bend hook in it and went Carolina rigging.
"A Carolina rig is one of the better ways to catch them. You can cover water, but at the same time if you rig your plastic weedless you can keep from hanging in the brush. Obviously, it worked out for me. I missed the cut, but at least I redeemed myself somewhat with my big bass. I feel good about that."
Fikes fished his Fluke on a 2-foot leader made from 15-pound-test Seaguar Fluorocarbon. His main line was 16-pound-test Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon. His rod was a Kistler 7-foot, 9-inch heavy action model and his reel was a Shimano Calais (6.2:1 gear ratio).
"If there's anything to be learned here it's that big bass inhabit an area for a reason, and that doesn't change very often. If you find a spot that holds one, there'll usually be another one there on another day. I always fish my big bass spots over and over."