MAUMELLE, Ark. — Arkansas Elite Series pro Kevin Short, who lives less than 30 minutes from Lake Maumelle, the site of the 2008 Under Armour College Bass National Championship, predicted it would take around 8 pounds to lead Day One, but added, "Some of those guys might get them."
Two of "those guys" were Foster Bradley and Jeff Aul of the University of Alabama, and they did substantially better then Short's prediction, weighing in 12.72 pounds.
"I think some other people are doing a lot of the same things, but we found a pretty good hole," Bradley said. "It's a combination of having a good spot and using the right technique."
Their bag left them with a 2-½ pound lead over second-place Andrew Shafer and Scott Edmonds of Texas A&M (10.2 pounds) and more importantly, almost a 4-pound lead over fifth-place Slayton Gearin and Kevin Shorey of University of Tennessee-Martin.
All 54 of the two-man teams in the championship will fish Thursday on Lake Maumelle, and the top 5 combined weights from Day One and Day Two will qualify for the final on Friday, which will be held a mystery lake with zeroed weights.
Rounding out the top 5 on Wednesday were Richard Peek and Adam Murphree of Auburn (third, 9.99 pounds) and Kyle Tindol and Michael Eubanks of Faulkner University (fourth, 9.79 pounds), which is in Montgomery, Ala.
Tim Waits and Braxton Setzer of the University of Alabama-Birmingham were right behind Faulkner with 8.28 pounds, putting four teams from the state of Alabama in the top six. Aul said he wasn't surprised.
"There are just a lot of different reservoirs in Alabama to fish, and you get experience in all types of different water," Aul said. "It allows you to be successful in other states."
Murphree said it was one lake in particular in Alabama that prepared Auburn for the tough fishing.
"This lake is a lot like a lake we have at home that we like to play around on called Lake Harding," he said. "There's a bunch of us in the club who like to go out there for a challenge.
"None of the big guys fish it anymore because it's so tough. I think that's what's helping us a lot."
None of the college anglers wanted to talk specifics on their styles, but the word that dominated was "slow." Chapple said Harding taught him and his teammate to wait on the fish, and almost all the teams agreed that was the only way to catch them Wednesday.
"We weren't moving the bait at all," Peek said. "And you had to throw to the same spot 15 or 20 times to get a bite."
Murphree added: "We tried to stay out in the middle of the lake and slowly drag it along the bottom on top of any stick or rock we could find."
Helping the bite was a nasty storm that hit in the middle of the day. It sent some teams to the shore, but improved the fishing for those willing to take the risk.
"I think one of the reasons we did so well today is because we fished through that storm," Waits said. "We caught most of our fish during that time."
The forecast calls for more of the same type of weather on Thursday, and most of the top teams were optimistic their patterns will hold. And even with a seemingly insurmountable lead, Bradley said Alabama isn't taking the final for granted.
"Anything can happen," he said. "You can never have a big enough lead in a tournament."
Visit CollegeBass.com for full event coverage, including streaming daily weigh-in video of the approximate 108 collegiate bass anglers competing in the 2008 Under Armour College Bass National Championship, July 9-11, in Little Rock, Ark. Tournament coverage will air on ESPNU later this summer. Live weigh-ins are at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday.