Local domination?

Yesterday Darold Gleason, the full-time Toledo Bend guide and veteran national level tournament pro, made the prediction that the Championship Saturday roster of 12 anglers will be dominated by local anglers. Or local, as in guys fishing regional events like the popular Bass Champs circuit. 

So far he is right on target. Joey Nania of Alabama (third place) is the only regular fishing the Central Opens who is from outside the Texas/Louisiana zone of domination in the leaderboard. Gleason is 14th and moving up.

Of the Opens held thus far this season, this event has the most pros not fishing all four Central Opens. What that means is a potential leader faces the loss of qualifying for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic, a missed opportunity given the skills of those anglers. 

The scenario also proves just how valuable time on the water is here, and especially when largemouth are concentrated in specific areas of the 114,500-acre impoundment. Local knowledge goes a long way toward eliminating water in a two-day elimination round leading to Championship Saturday.

Catching two at once

Co-angler Mike Vasquez lands a double for Day 1!

Update by Ron Risenhoover

First keeper for Palaniuk

As it always happens. As sure as the wind will blow in Texas, I let Brandon Palaniuk get out of sight while sending a blog about how slow it is.

He moved three points away. And by the time I caught up with him he’d boated his first keeper. Not a Texas-sized giant but a start on what was a slow morning.

Starting slow on Rayburn

I’ve settled on Brandon Palaniuk who isn’t far from the takeoff. He has none in the boat, but he’s hopping around plying the deeper water on the lower end.

He’s had no bites but said he’s been catching them mainly later in the day.

Right now it’s dead calm, and the heat is rising. This is actually the calmest day I’ve ever seen on this lake. Typical Texas is windy regardless of the forecast.

The lack of wind is likely the reason we’ve not seen any action so far.

Right now there are two things we expect will be happening on this lake.

Some will be relatively shallow. Flipping grass and throwing frogs. Others like Palaniuk will be sitting on ledges, points and brushpiles.

Yet to see which will produce. It’s slow all over.

A good start

Co-angler Brady Farrell with a good one to start the morning.

Livesay in the jungle

"It's a wonder the rod didn't break."

That's what Lee Livesay told Andy Crawford when he photographed the 3-pound largemouth that just went into the livewell. The bend on his rod proves the pulling power of a fish weighed down by heavy vegetation. 

Livesay is fishing extremely thick and gnarly vegetation that consists mostly of lily pads mixed with hydrilla in a creek. Things are going as planned thus far for the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from this neck of the woods. 

"I had a fairly decent practice, caught a couple over 9 pounds," he told me yesterday. "There are three things going on with the shallow bite, and I like them all." 

Those are concentrating on lily pads with a frog, and flipping the pads and isolated wood cover mixed in with the vegetation. Livesay also told me the lower water (it's 3 feet below normal) has concentrated the fish in specific areas. 

That could be good or bad. Good for drawing out of the thick cover and into a more fishable strike zone, and bad because of the fishing pressure those concentrated areas will create.  

Zaldain's quick start

Understand the fish in this photo was not caught this morning. This 9.96-pound bass was caught in practice by Trait Zaldain.

Interestingly enough it was caught fairly close to the takeoff point. So close in fact that Chris Zaldain watched her catch a 5.11-pounder as boats were taking off in the background.

That gives Trait Zaldain an awesome start on a school of fish that obviously is made up of donkeys.

She’s jumped out but not sure how sustainable. But like any bass angler you are spending your morning with nothing but high hopes. So far those hopes are playing out.

Day 1 begins

Photo by James Overstreet

Rolling on Rayburn

Ready to roll on Rayburn!

Update by Justin Hallmark

Ready to begin

Ready for the Bassmaster Open on Sam Rayburn!

Update by Gary Robin