Maybe the rising Mississippi River water level is making the difference. Maybe it was the rain and overcast skies. Whatever the reason, the bass fishing was better Thursday than it has been in the three previous Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments held at La Crosse.
Chad Pipkens' first place bag of 17-15 is within the norm here. It's everything below where the difference shows. For example, a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces, would have been fourth on Day 1 in 2012, third in 2013 and seventh in 2016. Thursday it was the 25th-best bag of the tournament.
The following is a comparison of the first-day standings of the four Elite Series tournaments held on the Mississippi River at La Crosse over the last seven years:
2012 2013 2016 2018
1st 16-8 18-4 17-10 17-15
25th 13-13 13-6 13-8 15-13
50th 12-13 12-2 12-5 13-14
75th 12-1 10-4 10-13 12-7