EVANS, Ga. — Crowded conditions and warm, bluebird skies made conditions difficult for each of the 39 teams fishing Day One of the College Bass East Super Regional on Clarks Hill Lake.
Leading the way despite fishing all day surrounded by local anglers was Kyle Tindol and Michael Eubanks from Faulkner University. They were one of only seven teams to weigh in a limit on the first day and had a leading weight of 11.19 pounds.
Close behind them in second was a perennial contender, Eastern Kentucky University's Tyler Moberly and Richard Cobb, with a weight of 10.55 pounds. In third place was former Under Armour College Bass National Champion Virginia Tech. Scott Wiley, a member of the winning team in 2007, and his new teammate Wyatt Blevins posted 10.25 pounds.
Rounding out the top five after Day One was Georgia Southern University's Seth Cannon and David Mesplay and Georgia College & State University's Matt Henry and Zach Olson, in fourth and fifth, respectively, with weights of 10.11 pounds and 10.09 pounds.
The leaders from Faulkner University found fishing tougher than practice, but still managed to pull out a limit from their primary area, even surrounded by local tournament anglers.
"We are competing against a lot of locals in our area," Eubanks said. "It was pretty crowded, but the area has a lot of good fish. Kyle caught a 9-pound bass there in practice so we know what the spot is capable of."
The two anglers had never fished Clarks Hill before and only spent two days practicing, but found one sweet spot the size of a football field that they were able to milk all day long.
"I don't know what the weather will be like tomorrow," Tindol said. "If we can get some clouds to move in and out, we can really catch them. It seemed that in practice, the few times clouds rolled through was when the bite picked up."
The team from Eastern Kentucky fought tooth and nail to assemble their 10-plus pound sack. After finding fish near docks in practice, they didn't expect to have to contend with dock owners that started pulling their docks out of the water during the tournament.
"The first dock we came to had a Suburban trying to move the dock up the bank," Cobb said. "Then, further down the bank, 50,000 people came pouring out of the woods riding golf carts, ATVs, motorcycles and dirt bikes. They jumped out and started pulling the docks out of the water. In less than 30 minutes they had moved five or six of the docks we were fishing."
Even moving docks didn't dissuade the EKU anglers from continuing to fish them. Eventually though, they were making enough noise that they figured someone might be getting mad, so they decided to make a move.
"We got the last laugh though, when we came back in the afternoon and caught a 3-pounder from one of the docks they had moved," Cobb said.
Virginia Tech suffered through a tough day and were ecstatic to find themselves in third place at the end of the day.
"This has been one of the longest days I've ever had," Wiley said. "That's only because we caught all our fish before 8. By the end of the day, we were praying for just one 12-incher."
With only four fish brought to the scales, that last keeper would likely have put them in the top spot.
"I might have had a chance at a fifth keeper," Blevins said. "I felt one hit, but when I set the hook, the pinchers just got torn off. After that we had a few bites during the day, but they could have been anything."
For the team from Georgia Southern, it was the story of the one that got away that they couldn't get out of their minds after weigh-in.
"We should have a 5-pound lead right now," Cannon said. "I was in the front of the boat and David was in the back. We were talking to some folks that were fishing in the same area when David got real quiet and set the hook. We got that fish halfway into the net when she shook her head and the hook came flying out."
Even with the lost fish that they estimated at close to six pounds, the two anglers still sit in the top five even without putting any practice time on the water.
On Day One, 39 teams caught 147.22 pounds of bass, all of which were released alive back into the waters of Clarks Hill Lake.
The Day Two weigh-in will take place at the Evans, Ga., Academy Sports + Outdoors at 3 p.m. ET.