ZAPATA, Texas — Good fortune played a role on the leaderboard at Falcon Lake Thursday. Those at the top knew they'd enjoyed some. Scattered down the list of 100 Elite Series anglers there was some heartbreak as well.
But everyone finished the first day of the Rigid Industries Falcon Slam with some hope for another day.
"I lost two big ones, and that's the whole key here," said Skeet Reese, who is in 84th place with 11 pounds, 8 ounces – more than 23 pounds behind leader Keith Combs' 34-13. "I've got to go catch five Moby Dicks tomorrow. At least I know they live here."
Yes, there were some whales landed Thursday and plenty that fought there way clear of the harpoons. Rick Morris had the big bass – a 9-11.
"These fish are so big and so hot, it's hard to get them in the boat," said Ish Monroe, who is 10th with 26-7.
Monroe said he had two 2 ½ pounders in his five-bass bag, and he lost two big ones near the boat – a 9- or 10-pounder that surged through his hand as he was attempting to land it, and a 7-pounder that came unhooked within sight.
"It's going to take 112 pounds to win this (four day) tournament, just like I predicted," Monroe said.
Alton Jones has logged as much time at Falcon Lake as anyone in this field, with the possible exception of Combs, and even Jones got surprised.
"You forget how mean these fish are," said Jones, who is 8th with 26-10. "That 7-pounder I caught, I would have sworn was a 10-pounder the way it bit."
The bass fishing may only get better over the next three days. An uncharacteristically cool morning ended with bright sunshine and 82 degree temperatures. It's supposed to be sunny with 100-degree highs the next two days. There is also a full moon on the way March 27th.
"I know for sure that two of the fish I caught were spawning," said Cliff Prince, who is second with 30-13. "There are so many fish in here, they can't all spawn at the same time. I think the fishing is only going to get better."
Elite Series rookie Josh Bertrand, who is second with 30-5, said, "I put everything in the boat that would have helped."
Another Elite Series rookie, Jason Christie, who is fourth with 28-15, had the same experience. But he's not counting on a repeat performance.
"I had four big bites, and I got them all in the boat," Christie said. "You've got to be lucky to get them all in here."
Christie had never fished a day on Falcon until practice started here Monday. His big bag on Day One has left him anything but overconfident.
"They're acting weird," he said. "I'm worried about it. I didn't catch more than one off any spot.
"The second day (of a tournament) is always the telling day as to who has got 'em figured out."