Open: McGehee leads Day 1

Muskogee, Okla. — While several contenders made long runs and played the lock game, Scott McGehee stayed close to take the lead today in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Arkansas River.

“I might have burned 3 gallons of gas,” said the 55-year-old McGehee. “I am just not a lock guy. There is too much risk for too little reward.” The Madison, Miss., angler stayed around the Three Forks Harbor area and caught a five-fish limit weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces to move into first place of the pro division.

During practice this week, McGehee and his traveling buddies, Teb Jones and Darold Gleason, worked an area that produced for all three anglers. “I pulled in there and caught them real quick this morning,” said McGehee, who owns a moving and storage company. “I had a limit by about 8:45 and I only upgraded once since then.”

McGehee said he was a “little bit” surprised by the quality of fish he caught today. “I know I can catch 9 or 10 (pounds) tomorrow but I don’t think I can catch that big of a stringer again,” he said. “But these river fish replenish so it should be pretty good.”

The Mississippi angler has been fishing Bassmaster events since 1996 but he has never won an Open. He has been in this spot before when he recalled leading an Open on Sam Rayburn in 2002 for two days but fell short on the final day.

Local favorite Chris Jones is in position to win his second Open on the Arkansas River as he finished the day in second place with 16-3. The Bokoshe, Okla., angler won the 2013 Central Open on his home waters and has won several local events in the month of June. Two weeks ago he won a BFL tournament with 18 pounds, and he and his dad weighed in 18 pounds in a buddy tournament last week.

Jones said he is fishing the same pattern that has worked for him the last couple of weeks and he is playing the lock game making a round-trip run of about 140 miles. “I only have about three hours of fishing time,” said Jones, who was still catching fish when he left his area today. “I am hitting specific spots that are all the same kind of stuff. I am just running as many spots as I can hit in a day.”

Other anglers placing in the top five of the pro division are Teb Jones, Hattiesburg, Miss., third place, 15-15; Lucas Ragusa, Gonzales, La., fourth, 15-14; and Brandon Lee, Ratcliff, Ark., 15-10.

Sulphur, La., angler Brian Murphy fished to perfection today as he got four bites and caught four bass to take over the lead in the co-angler division with a three–fish limit weighing 8-11. The 25-year-old college graduate has never fished the river before but Murphy said he got to “somewhat” fish his strengths. “It was kind of a junk fishing day,” he said.

Hosting the three-day event is the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce. Friday’s launch, weigh-in and the final day launch will be held at the Three Forks Harbor at 5201 Three Forks Rd. The final day weigh-in will shift to the Bass Pro Shops at 101 Bass Pro Drive in Broken Arrow.