Near a large group of anglers

Before I took off this morning Gary Clouse told me his plan was to fish his way upstream to Lake George. He must not have made many stops along the way, because he just passed me and entered the big lake.

For the last 30 minutes we have been stalking Robbie Latuso, who is fishing some docks in a narrow part of the river. Latuso is 14th with 4-2 at this point.

We stayed on Rick Clunn for a little while but didn’t see him catch a fish. Just after we left him, though, he caught two more bass and moved in the second according to BASSTrakk.

We are near a large group of anglers working in the northern shoreline of George, and are about to go looking for someone who’s on more fish.

Benton to off a monster start at St. Johns — again

Those who just watched Drew Benton's thrilling catch of a 6 1/2-pound spawning largemouth on the Bassmaster LIVE Mix might remember that he started his Elite Series career much the same way when the tour was here on the St. Johns River in 2016.

During that event — the first of what would turn out to be his Rookie of the Year season — the Florida pro landed five bass that weighed 22 pounds, 15 ounces on Day 1 and finished the round in second place. He was fishing mostly for bedding fish in that event as well and credited "young eyes" for his success.

He ultimately finished fourth in the 2016 tournament with 20 bass that weighed 75-6.

He's already got the makings of another great start.

Benton has the first game-changer

Drew Benton has landed the first St. Johns River game-changer of the day - a 6-pound, 7-ounce largemouth at 9:05. The Panama City, Fla., resident was, along with Cliff Prince, frequently mentioned among the pre-tournament favorites for this event. Prince responded, by the way, with a 4-pounder at almost the exact same time.

Despite the loss of eelgrass and tough fishing conditions during practice, the consensus was that somebody would bust a 25-pound bag today, if for no other reason that it's the St. Johns River, big bass are common here, and the water is warming rapidly. Those 6- and 4-pounders are crucial in building a 25-pound bag.

Prince gets a "big-un"

Cliff Prince just landed a four pound bass which brings him to more than 12 pounds this morning. He has a limit of five fish.

Oops, he just caught another and culled up to about 13 and a half pounds. The native of Palatka gets to relax a bit now and focus on upgrading the size of his Day 1 bag.

Matt Arey looking for a start

Bassmaster newcomer Matt Arey is still looking for his first bass of the day. He said he knows they’re in this area, and it should get more productive as the days goes on.

Arey, among others, is sharing water with several other pros, but it’s not too crowded in this canal.

Today’s weather will only encourage these bass to eat more often.

Lester blocking traffic

Well, not really. He is set up fishing a pinch-point in a canal, a spot he said was worth some investment after the tournament traffic has settled down.

He said he had one fish in the well, but not a very big one. It’s a start.

Lester was in the hunt for the title at St. Johns in 2016, and I expect he’ll stay strong as this year’s event continues.

Feider with an 18-minute limit

Seth Feider caught the first limit of the day - in 18 minutes - from 7:44 until 8:02. They were all one-pounders, so they weren't what Feider was looking for. However, the predictions from the anglers yesterday were for many anglers to fail to weigh a five-bass limit this week on the St. Johns River, so Feider's got that going for him.

Bassmaster LIVE explained

For the 2019 season there are new features to the Bassmaster LIVE coverage. Along with the normally great Bassmaster LIVE broadcast with commentators Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona, Davy Hite, Mike Suchan and myself; we will have a new twist this year.

There will be two streams available to fans for viewing. Bassmaster LIVE will feature commentators, graphics, insight and angler interaction. Meanwhile the new Bassmaster LIVE MIX will feature anglers fishing solely with no commentary and will normally feature a slightly different angler than what normal Bassmaster LIVE shows at a given minute.

Lake George will likely play again

We’re set up and waiting for a number of a Bassmaster Elite Series anglers who will be kicking their season off on the legendary Lake George.

Historically, this part of the fishery has been instrumental to a portion of the field, and it’s likely to be a major player again this Year.

From what we’ve been able to gather, the fish are not yet on beds, but with the warmer weather moving in, some prespawners are likely to appear, and multiply by the day.

As I’m about to send this blog entry, numbers of pros are moving in and spreading out on Lake George.

More to come.

Later start times, weigh-ins designed to avoid fog delays

Longtime fans fo the Bassmaster Elite Series might have noticed that this morning's takeoff for the Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. John's River started at 7:30 a.m. ET, little later than usual for an Elite event.

That was a strategic move planned long ago by B.A.S.S. officials to help curb issues with weather delays.

"It seems like every time we've come here, we've had issues with early-morning fog delays," said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. "We thought a later start time would be a good safe guard."

As it turned out, the weather was clear for Thursday's Day 1 takeoff. But who knows what it'll look like the rest of the week?

The later takeoff time will mean slightly later weigh-ins, 4:10 p.m. ET all four days.