Packed in Packer country

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Elite anglers are always looking for the magic spot, the unchartered water, the “promised land” of bass fishing.

At the Green Bay Challenge event on Lake Michigan, some pros may have found just that -- but there are plenty with a cast's distance.

“There were at least 85 boats up north today and that’s within a 3- to 5-mile stretch,” said Brandon Palaniuk, who currently sits in fourth place with 18 pounds even. “I played the chess match game and fished in the crowd of people, but I was fishing both shallow and deep throughout the day.”

Smallmouth dominated Day One, and they can be extremely picky and difficult to catch at any given time. Positioning and lure presentation is critical.

On top of that, pros have to play bumper boats and vie for the right spot in a sea of competitors.

 “You really have to pay attention to the small sweet spots that other anglers might pass, and concentrate on where you’re going to get bit,” Palaniuk added. “You don’t want to be fishing dead water.”

With 80 percent of the field in a stunted area, and with only half of that water being productive, claiming territory is nearly impossible.

In most events, establishing water and declaring an area has always been an “unwritten rule” that Elite pros respect and understand. If an angler fishes an area Day One, he has the right to that area the following day.

“I wish it was that way, but it’s not like that here,” said Ott DeFoe, currently in 13th place with 16-11.“Everybody is in a small section of the lake with a lot of dead water in that area, so we’re all rotating around one another.”

DeFoe is a contender to watch in the AOY race, landing in fourth place there following Day One on Lake Michigan.

When an Elite pro is in position to win one of the most coveted titles bestowed by B.A.S.S., the pressure is evident whether they choose to admit it or not.

DeFoe has always had the recipe for consistency, and despite the amount of competitors around him, his remedy for success hasn't waivered.

“You just have to catch as much as you can; it’s the name of the game at every tournament we go to.”