Wray wrangles wind for early lead

Josh Wray caught a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces on a day when limits were hard to come by — less than a dozen anglers caught five.

EUFAULA, Okla. — Embracing the wind, rather than trying to duck it, played heavily into B.A.S.S. Nation Central Divisional leader Josh Wray’s successful pattern Wednesday on Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula.

“I knew I could catch bigger fish if I’d stay where the wind was really hitting the worst and driving everybody else away,” said the Arkansas B.AS.S. Nation angler. “I just followed the wind.”

Wray caught a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces on a day when limits were hard to come by — fewer than a dozen anglers caught five. After catching a small limit early in the day, he kept battling the wind with his trolling motor, hoping to improve his bag.

“I culled three doing that, so it worked out,” he said. “Everything just went right today.”

Wray, a Green Forest Bass Club member from Omaha, Ark., is fishing in his third B.A.S.S. Nation divisional. In 2011, he placed third in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship as a nonboater, narrowly missing a chance to fish in the Bassmaster Classic.

“I missed the Classic by 2 pounds,” he said. He’s eager to get another crack at qualifying.

In second place after Day 1 on Eufaula is Trevor Rogge of San Antonio, Texas, with 13-14. Rounding out the Top 5 are Mark Wiese Jr. of High Ridge, Mo., 13-8; Mick Maples of Rolla, Mo., 12-14; and Chris Torkelson of Sand Springs, Okla., 12-9.

Oklahoma leads in the state competition, with 34 fish for 82 pounds, 7 ounces. Nebraska is in second place, with 29 for 71-8, and right behind is Louisiana, 35 for 71-5.

Wray, Rogge, Wiese and Torkelson are the top anglers for the Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Kansas teams, respectively. David Cavell, in 10th place with 10-13, leads the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation team. Leading the Mississippi team is Teb Jones, in sixth place, with 11-6. Lee Wubbels, in 11th place with 10-6, leads the Nebraska team. Robert DeGraffenreid, in seventh place with 11 pounds, leads the Oklahoma team.

The top angler from each state at the end of competition will advance to the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Nov. 6-8, on Louisiana’s Ouachita River.

Oklahoma B.A.S.S. Nation angler Bo Middleton caught the biggest bass of the day, a 5-pound, 8-ounce smallmouth. If no bass trumps his over the next two days, Middleton will win Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament, a prize worth $500.

Competition resumes tomorrow with a 6 a.m. CT launch time at Southpoint Ramp at Eufaula Cove. The weigh-in is at the South Point Pavilion beginning at 2 p.m. Competition concludes on Friday, June 6. Stay tuned to Bassmaster.com for updates.