PELL CITY, Ala. -- Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala. leveraged a double dose of early opportunity on Logan Martin Lake to take the Day 1 lead at the final Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open at Pell City Lakeside Park with a limit weighing 15 pounds, 3 ounces.
With summer’s sticky, hot conditions stubbornly lingering, this Coosa River reservoir yielded plenty of smaller fish, but big bites were few and far between. Connell caught his fish dragging baits in 12 feet of water.
“I had two key bites early this morning and if I hadn’t gotten those two bites, I would have been struggling all day,” Connell said. “I think that’s the biggest thing about this time of year; you have to capitalize on that early bite.”
After buoying his bag with a pair in the 4-pound range, Connell struggled to work through the boat traffic to access one of his key offshore spots. Also working to his detriment was an earlier flight, which limited the amount of time he had to fish the afternoon’s peak current flow.
“I’m fishing for spotted bass and when they cut on the water, you can catch them; but I don’t have a lot of time to catch them,” he said. “Hopefully, they run that water tomorrow and I can do it again.”
During the current flow, Connell switched to a reaction presentation and caught keepers on a couple different swimbaits.
Frank Talley of Temple, Texas, is in second place with 14-0. Launching near the tail end of the last flight afforded Talley only a little bit of the morning bite, but he managed to catch a couple of early keepers on a spinnerbait, before moving deeper and filling his limit on Carolina rig and a shaky head, both with green pumpkin finesse worms.
“Out deep, I’m fishing anywhere from 18 to 22 feet,” Talley said. “It has to have bait around and it has to have brush”
Bo Hunter of Gardendale, Ala., is in third place with 13-11. Targeting areas with current, Hunter fished slowly with a mix of baits including a shaky head with the 4.5 Reaction Innovations Pocket Rocket and a finesse jig with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver trailer. His largest fish, a largemouth, bit a Reaction Innovations Vixen topwater.
“The key was how the fish sit on the rocky spots I was targeting,” Hunter said. “Those spotted bass like it when the bait comes over from the other side and falls down.”
Billy Billeaud of Lafayette, La., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 5-2.
Blake Canella, of Plaquemine leads the co-angler division with 7-10. Canella started his day by dragging a Missile Baits flipping jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Tail Menace and caught keepers on his first two casts. He added a third keeper a couple hours later. James Glover, of Crestview, Fla. holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 4-7.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:15 a.m. CT at Pell City Lakeside Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 4 p.m.
The event is hosted by the City of Pell City and Pell City Chamber of Commerce.