RICHLAND, Wash. --- The two biggest bass of Day One boosted Chuck Rizuto to an impressive five-fish limit weighing 18 pounds, 3 ounces and the early lead in the BASS Federation Nation Western Divisional presented by Yamaha Outboards and Skeeter Boats.
The angler from Navajo Dam, N.M., boated two 5-4 smallmouth bass to claim a lead of 1 pound 9 ounces over Lakewood, Colorado's Matt Massey, who checked in with 16-10. Bryon Chaves of Salem, Ore., was the only other of the 132 anglers from 11 western states to top 16 pounds, as he brought in 16-2.
Despite that impressive performance, Rizuto was lamenting what might have been. "I missed one that could have eaten those two," he said.
He revealed that he caught eight fish altogether, all of them on Senkos, with the largest coming in the morning. "They were smaller in the afternoon," he said, adding that his fish came mostly from 2 to 8 feet of "real cold" water that was in the upper 40s.
Massey also caught his fish in cold water, suggesting that both anglers were targeting prespawn fish in this tournament where anglers can fish three rivers, the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima.
"I went north and fished fairly shallow with reaction baits," said the Colorado angler.
The two lead the way for their states in this two-in-one event where Federation Nation anglers compete for individual and team honors. The top finisher for each team in this three-day tournament will qualify for the BASS Federation Nation Championship and a shot at making the Bassmaster Classic.
The team with the heaviest aggregate weight, meanwhile, will claim the title of best in the West and win a Skeeter bass boat/Yamaha outboard rig valued at $30,000.
Host team Washington leads among the 11 teams, with 136-11. Three of its anglers, Don Hogue (15-5), John Mace (13-9), and Ron Mace (13-2) are in the top 10 individually.
Oregon is a distant second with 93-12, led by Chaves.
Rizuto's New Mexico team holds third with 83 pounds, while Montana is fourth with 79-15, Wyoming fifth with 78-15, and Colorado sixth with 76-14.
Nevada, Utah, Idaho, California, and Arizona round out the standings.
Weigh-ins Thursday and Friday are set for 2 p.m. at the Columbia Point Marina in Richland.