Troubles on the river

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Anglers battled more than tough fishing on Day One of the Diamond Drive, including two with Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year aspirations.

Fluctuating water levels put objects which were submerged yesterday near the surface today, creating many hazards on the waterway. Plus, the seemingly endless days that anglers put in on the water catches up with them as well as their equipment.

At least four anglers experienced troubles, costing them precious hours on the water. Alton Jones and Davy Hite were two such casualties. Jones began the day tied with Kevin VanDam for second in the AOY points, and Hite was sixth.

            Jones had perhaps the most catastrophic breakdown, but suffered the least because of it, thanks to his Marshal as well as the service crews. His power head went out as he ran toward the first set of locks this morning.

            “I didn’t prefish in the Little Rock pool, so I didn’t have many places to go. I just trolled around and made the most of my time in there and called it prefishing,” he said. “However, I’ve put thousands and thousands of hours on my motors, and this is the very first time I’ve ever experienced any issue like this.

“I run ‘em hard, too. Yamaha has been absolutely rock-solid for me. But, I have a few spots that I found when I went on my plane ride that I can check tomorrow.”

            Lucky for Jones, his Marshal also owns a Skeeter with a Yamaha, which was in town. Carl Jocumsen, who came to the United States from Australia to fish the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, owns a ZX225, which was trailered to where Jones was fishing. Jones grabbed the gear essential to his day, switched boats and lost very little time in the swap.

            “The rest of the day was absolutely flawless,” he said. “I think I’ll be able to make up some ground tomorrow with my FX.”

Jones turned the negative into a positive, saying he is proud of the work he did to bring in four fish weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces,, which put him in 58th place.

            Hite lost half of his day to an underwater obstruction. By 11 o’clock he had four fish and was feeling good, until his motor met a rock.

            “I was in an area that I had idled around in all week and never had any trouble,” he said. “So I go to put it on plane and right when the boat was at its lowest point, I whacked a rock and it took out my prop and lower unit. But what I don’t understand is how they make a man-made structure down there made of granite rock and not mark it.”

            Fortunately, Hite was able to idle back to the ramp where his boat was repaired. But he lost 3 1/2-hours in the ordeal.

            “I really have to thank Tom at Riverside Marine. His guys dropped everything and came down to the ramp and had me back on the water. Plus, Andy with Triton was there at the ramp with my trailer already in the water. These guys are on top of it,” he said. “I wound up with four fish today, but I had a chance to catch that fifth fish because of their help. But, with the weights the way they are I think that I can make a comeback tomorrow -- if I get to fish a full day.”

Hite stands in 39th place with 7-9.

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