Open: Early bite puts Walters on top

LEESBURG, Fla. — When Patrick Walters happened across a golden opportunity, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Summerville, S.C., stepped on the gas and sacked up a five-bass limit of 24 pounds to lead Day 1 of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open at the Harris Chain of Lakes.

Walters, who opened his 2021 season with a fourth-place finish in the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River, said he typically approaches Florida events by moving fast in practice to locate productive areas and then slowing down with methodical tournament execution.

Thursday saw him go off-script.

“Honestly, sometimes, it’s just fluke luck,” Walters said of his unexpected morning events. “I started throwing a (lipless crankbait) on a spot, and I looked down and saw two of them chasing my bait.

“I said, ‘Okay, maybe there’s some fish here.’ I passed through there, turned around and started whacking them. I probably caught 30 fish there and had my weight by 10 a.m. and then I left.”