Mum's the word

GROVE, Okla. — Moments after weighing a solid 15-1 pound bag to put him in fifth place in the co-angler standings of the Sooner Run presented by Longhorn Tobacco, David Stewart and a reporter talked about his catch.

Out of nowhere, Stewart's pro partner Kevin Langill, who weighed 15-15 for 26th place on Day One, appeared, casting a wary eye toward the media member and making clear, without saying a word, that most any detail concerning their day on the water was taboo to the media.

Stewart complied, using a rich tapestry of clichés and generalizations to describe what, in reality, wasn't even close to his best day on the water as a co-angler in a major tournament.

"I had 24 pounds on the first day on Amistad. I came in fifth in that one and came in fifth last year at Amistad," said Stewart, who resides in Cedar Park, Texas, and is competing in his fifth Elite Series event as a back-of-the-boater. "Hopefully, I can catch them tomorrow. I think Kevin will do well. I don't think we hurt them at all today."

Co-angler leader Michael Vintges had no such chaperone for his post weigh-in chat — Kevin VanDam was far too busy dealing with the throng of working media who peppered questions about his tournament leading 21-11 bag. But information, borne no doubt out of respect of the sport's very best, was much the same coming from the Tyler, Texas, resident.

"We caught them all different ways. I even caught one on top," said Vintges, who said their first spot this morning was more than clear enough for the fish to chew on topwater offerings.

Vintges, who had never before fished Grand Lake, beamed widely in describing his day with one of bass fishing's living legends. The conversation was cut short when Vintges spied VanDam wrapping up his media gathering, prompting the co-angler veteran of 10 events to hustle off to VanDam's boat in order to retrieve his gear.

"This was the best day I've ever had as a co-angler and no doubt the best partner I've had," Vintges said. "Tomorrow I've got an old friend Zell Rowland, the topwater specialist. Hopefully it'll work out."

Kelly Banks, in putting together a third-place showing for Day One with 15-13, put some memories in long-term storage when he bested his pro, Ohioan Glenn Delong (15-8, 30th place) five fish to zero to begin the day.

Banks, from nearby Ramona, Okla., says he fishes about 15 days per year on Grand Lake but indicated that the bait — a Black/neon Sweet Beaver rigged with a ¼ oz weight — was likely the reason for his hot start in the flooded shallows.

"It was something a little different than what he was throwing. I really had a good day. I probably caught nine or 10 keepers," Banks said.

Oklahomans David Herman (16-7, 2nd place) and Kelly Dougherty (15-4, 4th) round out the top five in the co-angler standings.

The field will be cut to 50 after Friday along with the pros, with Saturday's finale putting a lucky passenger in the seat of a new Triton/Mercury bass boat and trailer package.

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