Goodness gracious snakes alive!

Scott Rook took the big snake award on Day 1 at Lake Dardanelle. It carries no prize, only surprise.

"I flipped a clump of grass," Rook said. "My bait fell down in there, and the line jumped. So I just set the hook and the snake came flying out of the grass all the way into the boat. It scared the hell out of me, and my marshal is from Canada, so it sure enough scared him."

It was a water snake (non-poisonous) species Rook estimated at 30 inches long. He said he probably saw 200 of them Friday, but catching one like that was a first.

"I've had them where they've bit my bait before, but I've never set the hook on one," Rook said. "I had him snagged, but he bit my bait."

Rook, who is from Little Rock, knows Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River better than any other angler in this field. He finished Day 1 in 39th place with 12-11, but had opportunities to have 15 pounds. Rook still believes a 15-pound average over four days will have you in contention for the title.

"It's going to fall off some," he said. "Everybody is fishing shallow. Those fish aren't replenishing real good. The upper end is blown out, and that's where I'd like to be fishing. But I'll take lemons and try to make lemonade. The (main) river is getting better every day."