Lowen atop the leaderboard

Bill Lowen jumped to the top of the leaderboard at 8:15 a.m. with his third keeper, which gives him an estimated total weight of 7 1/2 pounds. Yes, it's way early. But don't be surprised if Lowen hangs near the top of the leaderboard all weekend. He was certainly the most confident angler I spoke with after practice, especially after running his pattern in the previously unexplored "mud" near Pensacola Dam on Wednesday.

“I’ve got a feeling that everybody is going to try to run from the mud,” Lowen said Thursday. “I intentionally waited until the last day, so it could get as warm as it could get. The first bite was a 4-pounder. The second bite was a 6-pounder. The third bite was a 3 ½-pounder. The fourth bite was a 6.

“It was like, okay, I like what I see in the mud. To say my confidence is high is an understatement. I just want to go.”

More significant than his total weight this morning is that Lowen has already caught three keepers. That's not hurting his sky-high confidence one bit.