CLINTON, Iowa — Although he had just six keeper bites all day, Tanner Bock secured a 14-pound, 7-ounce limit of largemouth to take the Day 1 lead at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional on Pools 13, 14 and 15 of the Mississippi River.
“Today was a grind. It is hard to say that when you are leading the tournament,” Bock said. “It was a slow day, but I’m on some good fish though. I think there might be enough for the next two days.”
Anchoring his bag with a 4 1/2-pounder, the Iowa state team angler holds just a slim advantage over Wisconsin’s Kyle Goltz, who caught 14-3, and has a 15-ounce lead over third-place Eddie Levin from Ohio.
Hailing from just 30 minutes away in Davenport, Bock is very familiar with the Mississippi River system but doesn’t usually like to fish this particular section of the river.
“I’m much more familiar with Pools 8, 9 and 10,” he said. “I try to get as far away from this place as I can and don’t really like fishing here too much. It is tough right now, and it generally fishes pretty tough. But here, you have a better chance at catching a 5-pounder than a lot of other places.”
This is the first trip to Pools 13, 14 and 15 for any Bassmaster tournament series. This week, the 90-boat field has been trying to decipher a river that has been falling consistently for the past two weeks. That, combined with bass that just wrapped up the spawn, has caused a tougher bite than anticipated.
“There was a tournament won here two weeks ago off of bedding fish,” Bock said. “You get that postspawn funk and get those changing water levels where fish are moving everywhere, it is tough to find them grouped up.”
All of Bock’s bass came from a stretch of vegetation he found in practice with a rotation of a couple of different baits.
“I managed to find one spot that was setting up right. It wasn’t in my practice plan. I kind of just drove by and said, ‘That looks good.’ And it turns out it was pretty good,” he said. “That spot produced all my weight. I certainly wasn’t expecting to come back leading.”
Heading into Day 2, Bock plans to return to that particular spot first thing in the morning and land his limit before the sun gets up. He has two other areas that he hasn’t fished to use as backups.
“It was fast in the morning, but after 9 o’clock it was a real grind to try and get bites and I had to slow way down,” he said. “I was getting nervous, I didn’t catch my fifth fish until about 9 or 10. You never want to come in with a big fish like that and come up one fish short (of a limit).”
Indiana’s Nick Schuetz leads the nonboater division with a three-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 5ounces. He leads his Indiana teammate Jeff Wehner by just 2 ounces.
With 66 bass total, Indiana leads the team standings with 140-0. They are followed by Wisconsin in second place with 117-2; Michigan is third with 97-12; Ohio is fourth with 95-2; Iowa is fifth with 90-2; Minnesota is sixth with 90-0; Nebraska is seventh with 88-13; Illinois is eighth with 83-1; and South Dakota is ninth with 81-1.
The full field will launch from Clinton Marina on Thursday starting at 5:30 a.m. CT and will return for weigh-in at 2 p.m. After the Day 2 weigh-in, the Top 18 boaters and nonboaters will advance to Championship Friday along with the Top 2 boaters and nonboaters from each state if they are not already in the Top 18.
The top boater and nonboater from each state at the end of the tournament will advance to the 2022 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Pickwick Lake Nov. 9-11.
The tournament is being sponsored by the Clinton, Iowa Convention & Visitors Bureau.