'Big mama' comeback
When the Elite Series first came to Kentucky Lake back in 2006, it was Morizo Shimizu claiming the title with 66 pounds, 9 ounces. With a contagious excitement and cries of "Big mama," Shimizu quickly became a fan favorite.
In his two return trips to the site of his first victory, however, Shimizu finished in the middle of the pack. This year, he got back to form on Day One with 19 pounds, 9 ounces and an 18th-place finish.
"I used that same spot," Shimizu said, referring to the offshore location where he won. "But one other guy also use that spot, so we fish side by side."
Shimizu caught three keepers from the area, but decided to leave and fish another spot that was less crowded.
"I was confused," Shimizu said. "I leave this area and the other spot, boom, boom, boom."
The fishing was very good, so Shimizu wasn't sure where he would start going into Day Two. Are there many fish left in those areas that got so much pressure Wednesday?
Where did that come from?
Imagine Mike McClelland's surprise when the first fish he caught on Day One was a 3-pound smallmouth. Especially considering it was an area he had never even sniffed a bronzeback.
"That was the first one I've ever weighed in here," McClelland said. "That one shouldn't have been there either. It gave me hope for the day, because I caught it at 6:30, but then I stumbled around until 2:30 and didn't have another keeper."
With only one fish in the well, McClelland made a move and caught three more keepers late in the day, but catching that smallmouth turned out to be a weird omen.
"Typically, we are here just late for the smallmouth to be good," McClelland said. "Closer to February is the time of year you will catch more smallmouth. Now, they are probably out in the channel running with the stripers."
After starting his rookie season out west with a top-20 finish on Clear Lake, Matt Greenblatt disappeared for a few tournaments. He turned that around in one fateful decision to start the morning.
"In practice, all I caught was small fish," Greenblatt said. "I totally changed up this morning and went to deeper water in the opposite direction."
It paid off and his 20-pound bag put him in 11th place on Day One and was topped with a big smallmouth in the 5-pound class.
"That smallmouth was in great shape," Greenblatt said. "It bit amongst the largemouth in 24 feet of water. He hit with a lot of line out and came up immediately and showed himself. I kept trying to keep him down and got him near the boat. Then he took me and my Marshal around the boat a couple times. It was the best fight of the bunch."
On Day One of the Tennessee Triumph, Chad Griffin from Cresson, Texas, brought in a bass he would be proud of back in his home state. The fish, which was nearly 8 pounds, was the second heaviest fish of the day and pushed Griffin's bag to 22 pounds, good for fifth place.
He owed the fish and the good day to making a mistake with greasing his reel.
"I was fishing a little deeper and made a bad cast," Griffin said. "I had just greased my reel and the lure went too far. As soon as it hit the top of the ledge, I caught a 4-pounder."
His next few casts resulted in another good fish and then he lost a 5-pounder.
"I thought that fish I lost was huge because I hadn't seen anything over 3 pounds in practice," Griffin said. "I started throwing my little Griffin fit, sat down, composed myself and my next cast was an 8-pounder."
"The schools aren't bunched up like they usually are, they are more scattered." - Timmy Horton
"I'm kinda lost out here on these ledges." - Mark Tyler
"I hate fishing off the bank, but I can't catch them on the willow trees...so I guess I'll just stay off the bank." - Cliff Crochet
"I was running my beautiful Triton all over the lake today and forgot to fish." - Fred Roumbanis
"Last year there were places you could pull up and catch 25 pounds on 5 casts. It's not like that this year." - Kevin VanDam
"You got to smash them every time you go out there, there's no conserving with this bunch." - Greg Hackney
"I got here about 10 minutes before the angler's meeting yesterday, and today was the first day I've been on the lake all year." - Jeremy Starks
"I caught a catfish today that was tall as me. He looked like he weighed 90 pounds, but probably more like 70 or 80." - Aaron Martens
"I caught 40 fish off one spot, probably 70 overall. I was disappointed because I expected to catch over 100." - Clark Reehm
"I got to my first spot and nobody was there...it didn't take me long to figure out it wasn't such a great spot." - Peter Thliveros