Daily Limit: One cast to wellness

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Mike Suchan
Caleb Kuphall waits in line to weigh-in, smiling after salvaging his day.

Notes and quotes from Day 1 of the Classic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- So you’re saying there’s a chance. Many anglers could relate to that line after a trying Day 1 of the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

One kicker was the difference between having hope and having all hopes dashed. Bill Lowen and Caleb Kuphall were among those who rode one big bite. They had hoped for better, but were glad to have the big one.

Kuphall, who qualified by winning the Basspro.com Open on Alabama’s Smith Lake, salvaged his day late, including a 5-15 among his four fish that placed him 27th with 14-1. He’s one ounce out of the three-way tie at the cut line, and he knows what his chances would be without that fish.

“It’d be pretty poor,” Kuphall said. “I know it’s not a giant for Guntersville, but I’m so thankful to have him. If I didn’t have that one fish, I would have been pretty much out of it.”

Kuphall turned around his day after going almost six hours without putting one in the boat.

“It was 1 o’clock and I hadn’t caught a fish. I was thinking I’m going to zero on the first day of the Classic. You’ve just got to stick with it because anything can happen, all the way to the end,” he said, adding he stayed out as late as he could pursuing No. 5 before racing to check-in. “I pushed it. I got pretty wet coming back.”

Lowen would have been all wet without a 6-4 that made up most his weight. He could only manage three fish for 11-10, but he sits in 36th with hopes of climbing.

“I had another big bite and I lost it,” he said. “Typically I fish for a limit. This is probably truly the first tournament that I didn’t. I specifically went out today to fish for big ones, win, lose or draw. And Mother Nature kicked me in the teeth.”

Lowen was a victim of the winds that pounded his areas, making them virtually unfishable. Waves rolling made it impossible to skip his lure under docks in his two areas.

“Leaving out this morning, I thought I could catch 20 pounds a day, but when you can’t fish it, you can’t fish it,” he said.

Second-year Elite Greg DiPalma holds the highest place of an angler who did not catch a limit. His four fish, which included a 6-1, has him inside the cut at 18th with 15-3.

Grae Buck, who qualified to the Classic by winning the Oneida Open, made the most of his two catches. With a 7-3 and a 6-3, he totaled 13-6 to stand 30th.

Moving day

Anglers spoke of Guntersville’s potential, yet few realized it. There were six bags topping 20 pounds, and 28 bags topping 14.  Hank Cherry’s 29-3 gave him a 7-11 lead over John Crews and Clent Davis, tied with 21-8.

Angler of the Year Scott Canterbury, Lee Livesay and Whitney Stephens are tied at 24th with 14-2. Only 3 pounds separates 36th place and 20th, and a good Saturday will be the difference between making the final day or working the Expo.

The cut formula is typically doubling the Day 1 weight, which would be 28-4, then adding or subtracting a pound or so. So anglers should go into the day thinking 30 pounds will get them to Championship Sunday.