Tyler Stewart and Nick Joiner of the University of Louisiana-Monroe set the bar high on Day 1 of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Central Regional on the Atchafalaya Basin when they brought 17 pounds, 9 ounces to the scales. The duo now takes a more than a four-pound lead into Friday’s competition day.
With only six teams managing to break double-digits the Atchafalaya Basin proved it is a hard fishery to breakdown, especially with the shifting weather this area has received in the last few days.
Most of the Atchafalaya was producing throughout pre-practice and even this past weekend, but high winds and an influx of rain has pushed muddy water into areas that were once clear.
Stewart and Joiner never shared water with any other competitors on Day 1 and their concealed area was sheltered from the winds that affected the majority of the Basin.
“Our areas have stayed clear despite the wind we have faced this week,” Stewart said. “I don’t know if we can catch 17 pounds again, but the area we are fishing should stay stable.”
The ULM teammates were shocked that no one else fished around them on Day 1, but they are certainly glad to have a couple key areas to themselves.
While the majority of the field battled small fish throughout the day, Stewart and Joiner gave themselves an extra boost with five consistent fish. The duo didn’t need to rely on a kicker fish to boost their bag, while many of their pursuers hoisted a kicker fish that was accompanied by two-pound class bass.
Stewart and Joiner didn’t risk being late on Day 1 of the tournament, as they knew they would be in a good position with their bag. They came in over 45 minutes earlier than their original check-in time of 3:15 p.m. On Friday, Stewart and Joiner head out in the first flight.
Their closest pursuer is the team of Zach Ziober and Dakota Ebare from Tarleton State and they brought 13 pounds, 3 ounces to the stage on Thursday. Unfortunately for Ziober and Ebare, over five pounds of their bag came from one fish while it was paired with four two pounders to go with it. That kicker fish certainly has them in striking range, but they aren’t sold that their area could produce a 17-pound bag.
The Tarleton State teammates shared water with other anglers on Thursday, but they combated that by changing the way they fished their baits.
“We saw a decent amount of boats in our area today,” Ziober said. “I just think they were fishing too fast. We decided to slow down and fish for less bites, but be patient knowing that big ones may come our way.”
Ziober and Ebare boated eight bass on Day 1, but only six of those were keepers. They did, however, have an opportunity to help their weight, but couldn’t get a few key bites in the boat.
“We didn’t get many bites today, but almost every fish we hooked up with was solid,” Ebare said. “Losing fish happens, but we need to land everyone for the rest of the tournament.”
The only fear the duo has is the wind direction and how that can affect the clarity of their area. If they have a north wind then their area will clear up and it could get even better, but a southwest wind could muddy up the water and force them to call an audible.
“If we get the correct wind then we will be fine,” Ebare said. “If we get the wrong wind, then our audible means a long run to another one of our areas.”
The rest of the Top 5 rounds out with Benoits/Leblanc of Nicholls State with 12 pounds, Harriman/Miller of Arkansas with 12 pounds and Cooper/McDill of University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology-Crossett (UAM-CTC) with 11 pounds, 12 ounces.
The host school of Nicholls State had five teams inside of the Top 20 after Day 1 of competition.
After Friday’s competition day the field gets cut to the Top 20 and those teams will battle it out for 13 spots on Day 3.