Walker's commendation, Tharp's black cloud and Skeet's yellow pants

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The appreciation for David Walker’s life-saving act continued Friday with a commendation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Earlier this week Walker rescued Brandon Ardister after his boat sank 300 yards offshore on Lake Hartwell.

Walker received a Certificate of Appreciation issued by the Department of the Army from Thomas J. Tickner, commander of the Savannah District. The certificate recognizes civilians for exemplary acts.

“Promoting safe recreation is a goal of the Corps of Engineers,” said Tickner. “Mr. Walker went above and beyond to save this man’s life by being conscientious to recognize what was going on around him.”

Here are more notable notes from Friday’s GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.

In the penalty box

Day One leader Dean Rojas endured a 28-minute late start penalty after missing his check-in time on the official practice day.

“I picked up my new boat from Skeeter on the way and did not have a chance to fully break it in.”

That includes changing the clock on his Lowrance console unit from the Central to Eastern time zone. Rojas believed to have plenty of fishing time remaining on his clock.

The faux pas might not matter at all because the numerical odds are stacked in his favor. This marks Rojas’ 13th Classic, and today he was boat number 13. His pre-fishing period on Lake Hartwell began on Feb. 13, 2015.

Skeet’s yellow pants

The eye-catching, full yellow pants worn by Skeet Reese are grabbing plenty of attention.

The flamboyance is really nothing new. In high school Reese frequented nightclubs in California and gained local fame for his dancing skills. At the 2003 Bassmaster Classic he did a break dance on the weigh-in stage that garnered play on ESPN's SportsCenter.

Beyond the fashion statement the pants have a practical angle. They are part of a new line designed by Huk Performance Fishing. The new company markets technical apparel specifically designed for the sport. Don’t expect the performance gear to be available in yellow.

Icebreaker

Jared Lintner rounded the bend of a creek in route to a chosen area only to discover it frozen solid.

“It looked funny so I slowed down after hearing a cracking noise around the boat.”

Lintner described the area as 10 acres in size and the ice at least 1/4-inch thick. He deployed the trolling motor but never made a cast after checking the water temperature gauge. It read 37 degrees.

“I checked that place off the list,” he mused.

Howell's top five goal

Randy Howell wants to make the top five on Sunday for more than one reason. Howell is the main spokesman for King’s Home, a central Alabama nonprofit organization. The King’s Home logo is prominently displayed on his boat and each season it’s raffled off to benefit the group.

Last year in Birmingham a group of the special-needs residents witnessed Howell’s win at the Classic. He vowed to make the top five this year so they can hopefully relive the inspiring feat.

Traveling out of state requires a contingency for many of the residents. The expenses involved in fuel and bus travel make the trip a challenge.

“It’s an expensive trip and I want to make it worthwhile for them,” he said.

Howell currently ranks fifth with 15 pounds, 5 ounces.

Late ice out

The 2 o’clock hour seemed to be a magical time for ice out when applied to frozen rod guides.

More than one angler reported a need to swish rods through chilly water to free ice from guides. That chore ended at 2 p.m. for a chorus of the anglers.

Among them was Mike McClelland.

“It’s not so bad if you’re working a vertical presentation with a drop shot rig or jig in deep water since the bait stays there longer,” he said.

That’s not the case for McClelland. He’s making long casts with a jerkbait to reach pre-spawn largemouth.

Tomorrow’s weather calls for a wintry mix with a high of 39 degrees. Reel ice out should come early, if not occurring at all.

The longest launch

Steve Lund is credited for taking the longest time to launch a boat on Day 1. The feat took nearly 45 minutes after the boat froze to the trailer bunks. Freedom came after backing the rig into the lake, allowing the water to thaw it.

You can quote me

“I didn’t bring ounce-and-a-half sinkers to punch through this ice.” —Randall Tharp