2008 Central Open #3 Lake Texoma 0810c3n - Denison, TX, Oct 30 - Nov 1, 2008

Winds Muddy The Central Open On Lake Texoma

Points even tighter after a tough Day One on Texoma

Michael Burns at the Central Open

DENISON, Texas — At the end of the Day One weigh-in on Lake Texoma, the race for three Bassmaster Classic berths was tighter than ever."This was the toughest day of fishing I've had in a long time," said Jerry Williams, who fell out of the points lead with a dismal Day One showing of 5 pounds, 12 ounces that left him in 65th place for the tournament.

On top of that, Aaron Johnson, previously second in the points, didn't even cross the weigh-in stage Thursday. As a result, the Classic race received a big shake-up.Now leading the Central Open points unofficially is Texas native Michael Burns with 790 points. Billy Mccaghren sits in second with 769, while Elite Series pro Jami Fralick occupies the third spot with 759 points.Lost fish plagued Williams on the water, and it was only thanks to a last-minute decision to run completely across the lake that he was able to boat three keepers late in the day.

If Williams can recover tomorrow, he stands a good chance of moving right back into the Classic picture and he can look back on his Day One decision to change gears as a decisive moment.

 Burns, the unofficial points leader, had a great deal to celebrate. He lives only 60 miles from the lake and considers himself a local, which may have helped on a day when only 15 anglers managed to bring in over 11 pounds.Burns sits in sixth and brought in 13-5, but was still cautiously optimistic about Day Two."I think I can get a limit tomorrow," he said. "However, I caught all smallmouth today and they can be here one minute, gone the next, so I might zero tomorrow — we'll just have to see."Fralick was ecstatic to be sitting in third in the points race after breaking down not far from the launch to start the day."This morning I was in a hurry to get a new boat," Fralick said. "I knew I had to just settle down. The worst thing you can do on a lake like this is speed up and fish too fast."

 After picking up the spare boat that the Nitro service crew had with them, Fralick was able to get back on the water and boat 10-11, leaving him in 17th place.A full day of fishing Friday could give the young South Dakota pro plenty of time to keep himself firmly entrenched at the top of the standings, but Fralick insists that he is not thinking too far ahead."If I start thinking ahead of this tournament, things won't go right."



Much of the pre-tournament hype surrounded Rick Clunn, who already wrapped up a berth in the Classic when Bobby Lane double qualified through the Southern Open. However, if Clunn should qualify through the Central Opens, that would open a Classic spot for Elite Series pro Rick Morris.


Unfortunately for Morris, even with Clunn's 10-11 Day One, Clunn still sits in sixth in the points race and is on the outside looking in.


One way or another, the rest of the Classic competitors need to look out for Clunn come February.


"I haven't given the Classic much thought, with the exception that I really like the Red River," he said. "You really want to make the Classic, but you especially don't want to miss the ones that actually fit your style and give you a better than normal chance at doing well."


One angler who seemed Classic-crazed was Louisiana pro Mark Smith.


"I've been here 11 days wanting to get in the Classic so bad," said Smith. "The Red River is my home water and I think I could do well there."


Even though he managed to bring in 10-13 to the scales on Day One, he still remained in eighth place in the Central Open standings, more than 50 points out of a Classic berth.


"I'm going to completely change up from what I did today," said Smith. "The water is warming up in the shallows and I've had two days of 18-20 pounds fishing up shallow in practice. With a late weigh-in, I think I can have a big day."


A big day is exactly what Smith needs if he wants to punch his ticket to Shreveport in February.


"February is my favorite month," he said. "It would be a great time to go."



Elite Series pro Bradley Hallman expressed the exact opposite emotions when speaking of the Classic.


"We ain't talking about it," said Hallman, notably pumped up after bringing almost 15 pounds of Texoma bass to the weigh-in. "I'm not thinking about it and I didn't think about it today.


"I don't care and that is the honest-to-god truth. If I think about it, I'll do just like I did in the Elites and go right off the end of the dock on the last day when it comes down to it. I've never done well fishing for points and I'm not going to do it. I'm here to win this tournament."


Putting the Classic completely out of mind may just be the only way to help boost Hallman up into one of the final Classic berths. He is currently sitting in fifth place in the points standings and would need a strong tournament finish or even a victory to have a chance to be fishing in February.



All points standings referred to in this article are unofficial until the completion of the tournament.



Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Central Open 3 from Lake Texoma, Texas., Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 4:35 p.m. ET.