MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Dropping water levels didn't stop the Faulkner University team of Kyle Tindol and John Nicks Galloway. The local duo brought 15.07 pounds to the scales on Day One, including a 6.03-pound big bass of the day, and lead the East Super Regional on the Alabama River.
"Last year, we led after the first day, but fell off on Day Two," Tindol said. "We've been at this too long, this year, we want to win."
Right behind Faulkner were the East Super Regional defending champions, Eastern Kentucky University, represented this year by Kyle Raymer and Jonas Ertel. They caught 14.91 pounds and head into Sunday's final day in second place.
Third place after Day One went to last year's West champions, Zach Caudle and Joe Landry from LSU-Shreveport after they weighed in 14.45 pounds. The University of Alabama's Dustin Connell and Nick Carlysle landed in fourth place with 14.32 pounds. Rounding out the top five was Auburn University's J.T. Murphy and Kiron Browning with 13.99 pounds.
Weights were lighter than predicted, mainly due to falling water levels that pulled the fish off beds and the bank, forcing anglers to adjust. In fact, the changes were so drastic that Tindol and Galloway plan on changing their game plan completely for Day Two, despite bringing in the biggest bag of the day.
"We know we can't win doing what we're doing," Tindol said. "Being from here and having the confidence to do this might not pay off, but I've been fishing here long enough to know that what I've been doing won't get the job done tomorrow."
The team from Faulkner estimated they caught 30 fish from their primary area, but the falling water pulled the bigger females away from the bank. Add considerable boat traffic both Saturday and likely Sunday as well, and they felt they needed to make a strategic shift.
"The females left for a reason and unless something major happens, that won't change," Tindol said. "Plus, plenty of people saw us in there, so we would have more company tomorrow. We pretty much blew it out today, so they can have it."
Tindol will get his chance at victory once again, as he leads the East Super Regional after Day One for the second year in a row.
Ertel and Raymer are right on Faulkner's heels, ready with an adjustment of their own if necessary.
"Tomorrow, we might have to go throw a crankbait," Raymer said. "We started flipping trees and caught a quick limit, culling throughout the day. You really had to just let it sit, deadsticking the bait to get a bite."
Ertel, fishing in his last season with College Bass, would really like to make this one special.
"This will be the last year that I will actually be able to do this," Ertel said. "There is a lot of prestige surrounding it and it is a great honor to come in as defending champions for a chance to make it two in a row for EKU."
Aside from the race for the tournament title, the in-state rivalry between Auburn and Alabama heated up on Day One. By the end of the weigh-in, Alabama had the slight edge, with an average team weigh of 9.99 pounds from seven teams versus 9.85 pounds from eight Auburn teams.
Sunday's forecast is for another beautiful spring day, with highs climbing into the low 80s by weigh-in time and mostly sunny skies. Anglers begin checking in at 4:15 p.m. ET, with the weigh-in starting at 4:30 p.m. ET at the Riverwalk Amphitheater in Montgomery, Ala. Full coverage from the event, including a live stream from the weigh-in can be found on CollegeBass.com