ATHENS, Ala. — Todd Driscoll jumped into the early lead on Day One of the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship tournament, operated by American Bass Anglers and slated for Nov. 7-10.
Running out of Umphrey Pavilion Marina to fish the 114,500-acre Lake Sam Rayburn near Jasper, Texas, the 41-year-old biologist for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department brought in five bass weighing 23.14 pounds. He anchored his first day catch with a 7.65-pound bucketmouth to take the lead in the Boater Division.
“This is my home lake,” Driscoll said. “I’ve lived on the lake for 14 years. The lake has been fishing pretty tough. The fish are nomadic now. I found two or three places with feeding fish and had a limit by 9 a.m. I culled three fish later in the day when fishing new waters.”
Driscoll concentrated on finding fish in deep water in the middle of the lake. The fish moved up on humps and ridges to feed.
“I’m catching bass around drops in 15 to 35 feet of water,” the biologist said. “I couldn’t have caught them without my Lowrance structure scan electronics. The fish are roaming around. It’s a matter of finding them and staying on them. I’m catching them with crankbaits, a flutter spoon and a big worm.”
Holding second among the 175 boaters, Clifford “Albert” A. Coll of Nacogdoches, Texas, brought in a five-bass daily tournament limit for 19.96 pounds. David Curtis of Trinity, Texas, holds third place with five bass weighing 19.01 pounds, followed by Nick J. Prvonozac of Warren, Ohio, with five bass and 18.63 pounds.
John Hutchins of Warrenton, Va., sits in fifth place among the boaters with five bass for 18.14 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 7.08-pounder. Brian R. Brown of Kuttawa, Ky., holds sixth place with five bass weighing 17.79, but brought in the biggest bass of Day One, a 10.51-pound mossback.
In the Co-Angler division, Brian K. Modisette, 47, of Broaddus, Texas, took the early lead with three bass going 12.69 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 6.58-pounder.
“I live on the lake and fished it my whole life,” Modisette said. “I only got three bites and those were the fish that I caught. I fished humps and main lake points with a Carolina rig. I can fish deep or shallow, so I’m ready to fish however my boater wants to fish.”
Richard Michalski of West Port, Ky., holds second among the co-anglers with a three-bass daily division limit weighing 10.85 pounds. Robin K. Phillips of Smithville, Tenn., follows with three bass and 10.31 pounds. Derek J. Thurman of Collinsville, Okla., brought in three bass at 9.86 pounds topped by a 5.10-pound kicker for fourth place. Rounding out the top five leaders in the Co-Angler Division, Travis Malphrus of Ridgeland, S.C., caught two keepers weighing 9.67 pounds, but landed the lunker of the day at 7.24 pounds.
The event features the best weekend anglers from 25 states. The anglers qualify through divisional events in their states. The top 40 points leaders from each BWS division compete in one of four two-day regional championship events. Then, the top 50 boaters and 50 co-anglers from each of the four regional events may compete in the BWS national championship.
The champion boater will receive $100,000 and could win up to $105,000 with bonuses from Triton Boats, Mercury Marine and MotorGuide. In addition, the winning boater will earn a chance to compete in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, slated for Feb. 22-24 on Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Grove, Okla. The champion co-angler will take home $50,000 and could grab up to $52,500 including sponsor bonus money.
The action continues each day through Nov. 10. The public weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. On the final day, only the top 25 boaters and co-anglers compete.