FLORENCE, Ala. — With every single angler bringing a limit to the scales on Day One of the Alabama Charge, getting a big bite was precious. Tommy Biffle managed to catch two good fish up shallow, despite the falling water.
"I was surprised to get one big bite yesterday and I got two," Biffle said. "The only thing I know today is that I'm going to catch some fish. I don't know if I'm going to get another big fish. You can tell the water is going down again."
"If they leave the water alone, I think the tournament will be won shallow," Biffle said. "They are just wanting to get up there so bad. I think the big ones I caught yesterday just wanted to be there even with the falling water."
The lower water didn't help Guy Eaker and his big bite fizzled out on Day One. Eaker noted that he did get bites, but they didn't eat his Chatterbait as well as they did in practice.
"I told Paul (Elias) the worst I figured I could do was 15 pounds a day," Eaker said. "They dropped the water two feet and the fish left the beds. I know the fish are still there, but it's pulling a lot of the fish out of the backs of the pockets."
Trouble hooking fish caused Eaker to finish Day One with 10 pounds, 4 ounces in 81st place. Dean Rojas had a similarly bad experience on the first competition day, only landing 10 pounds, 2 ounces. He sits in 83rd place and knows he needs a few big bites to make a run at the top-47 cut.
"I don't think I adjusted quick enough yesterday," Rojas said. "I need to stay around the area I can get a bigger bite. I'm going to change to areas that have a little more depth."
Without any depth, the falling water moves fish around and makes them harder to catch.
"It's tough because there is a lot less cover out there when the water is down," Rojas said. "The fish that were up there just left or became spooky."
Even so, Rojas still estimated he caught 30 fish, but the bigger largemouth were gone.
Unlike Rojas and Eaker, Zell Rowland didn't think the falling water hurt the shallow area he plied for 18 pounds and an eighth-place Day One showing.
"I figured that I could catch a few good fish where I was," Rowland said. "I ended up catching four of the five good fish I saw bite. I'm just looking for deeper places in the shallow water like where a log sticks out a little farther."
His attention to the subtleties of an area paid off and Rowland is off to his best start of the year. It helps that the areas he has fished are places most of the other anglers are overlooking.
Friday's competition day looks to be a mirror of Day One as far as weather and water level. Follow along with Tommy Biffle on the water and see if he can get another big bite by watching BASSCast.