Paquette first to 15 pounds today

Twenty-four-year-old Elite Series rookie Garrett Paquette was the first angler to top 15 pounds today. He did it quickly, with his five keepers coming within the 10 o'clock hour.

The Canton, Mich., pro has a 4-4 and a 4-0 in his 15-pound, 15-ounce limit. He started the day in 38th place, but he's already got the weight to easily make the top 35 cut after today's weigh-in.

Prince goes from zero to hero

Cliff Prince had the dubious distinction of being the only angler who failed to weigh a keeper yesterday. But you can't keep a good man down.

Prince has a big hill to climb today, but he's gone from zero to at least a hero of sorts. Prince has a limit weighing 11 pounds this morning.

Benton struggling with kidney stone

We learned last night Drew Benton is struggling with a kidney stone issue. He considered not fishing today, but soldiered on and has caught four fish today. If those four fish total up to 8 pounds that would put him in the top 25 at this point today. Benton told us he’s struggling. “The bad part is I didn’t get any sleep last night,” he said. Taking a sick day is an option most Elite anglers try really, really hard to avoid. Doing so during a tournament means lost points in the Toyota Angler of the Year race, and could impact his chance of make the GEICO Bassmaster Classic. Benton is my nomination for the Ironman Award this week.

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What a difference a week makes

What a difference a week makes. This time last week, I was watching Rick Clunn catch giant Florida largemouth on the St. Johns River in 80 degree weather. Today, it's in the low 50s, and Clunn and the others are hoping to catch spotted bass weighing 3 or more.

Each tournament has its own "personality," and that's what makes this sport so much fun to cover. But I wouldn't complain if it were warmer today.

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It's all about 3-pounds-plus

There were 23 anglers who weighed 15 pounds, 1 ounce or more on Day 1. With a 5-bass limit, that's, obviously, a 3-pound average per bass. Leader Jeff Gustafson's 19-2 total came close to a 4-pound average.

That's something to keep in mind if you're following the BASSTrakk Twitter feed - the number of 3-pounds-plus fish. They will determine the order of the standings at the end of the day.

Chris Zaldain is the man to keep your eye on. He's got three bass in the boat. They're conservatively estimated at 10 pounds, including a 4 1/4-pounder. Zaldain has laid the foundation for a big day.

Extra incentive

Jeff Gustafson is providing extra incentive for fish to bite. He is running a Hydrowave unit by T-H Marine on his Lund. The electronic device emits baitfish sounds underwater that are meant to attract bass and make them active.

It’s not working so far this morning, but it must have paid off with his impressive catch yesterday.

When he pulls the underwater speaker up in order to run to a new spot, we can hear the clicking sound it makes.

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Gustafson searching

As a fishing guide in Canadian waters, Jeff Gustafson has to be a master of reading electronics. His eyes are glued to his depthfinder screen constantly, as he probes structure around a small island.

He fishes one spot for a while, then trolls quickly to another just 50 yards away. I assume he has pinpointed some brushpiles or perhaps rocks where big spotted bass like to hang out.

He has not fooled any yet.

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Mullins: a little known fact

Before becoming a Bassmaster Elite angler in 2014, David Mullins taught history and coached basketball in East Tennessee. One of the players he coached, John Fulkerson (above), is playing an important role for the top ranked University of Tennessee Volunteers. Fulkerson is a 6 foot 9 inch sophomore and he’s typically the first big man off the bench for the Vols. This past Wed. in a win over South Carolina Fulkerson grabbed a rebound high above the rim and dramatically dunked the basketball. That play was an ESPN Sports Center highlight. “He always played with a lot of energy,” said Mullins. The same could be said for Mullins, who is currently leading the Toyota Bassmaster Elite on Lake Lanier. 

Hole hoppin’ with Zaldain

Chris Zaldain started off the event’s opening round with a solid limit that had him in the Top 5. And based on yesterday’s BASSTrakk numbers, the bite was most productive early in the day.

Things are different this morning however: Overcast and a little bit warmer. With water clarity like this, darker conditions make the fish less wary, but may also push the feeding window to later in the morning.

Theoretically, of course.

Zaldain has hit several spots so far, not giving any of them more than 5 to 10 minutes each. He’s looking for active feeders.

Much like smallmouth bass, spotted bass feed in schools, which means if you can get one to eat, that may fire up the rest of the school and you can load the boat very quickly.

He’s working his way down the lake, checking spots along the way. So far his efforts have yielded him a fine 3-plus-pounder.

Gotta run, he just yanked up the trolling motor again. Stay tuned.

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Gustafson found

Photographer Shane Durrance and I finally have found our target, Jeff Gustafson, on the lower end of the lake.

We were using one of those “find your buddy“ apps to locate his photographer, Jake. Nobody told us there were two Jakes running cameras this week, and we followed the wrong one.

But we got some nice shots of Rick Morris, who started the day in third place. Morris is fishing light tackle. He missed a strike or two while we were on him.

We found Gustafson just as he was moving to a new location.

The first round leader with 19-2 yesterday, He has no keepers in the livewell so far today. But he is on a good spot, according to Durrance, who lives on the lake.

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