DEL RIO, Texas — Three anglers with youth, experience and a ponytail grabbed top honors at Lake Amistad on Thursday, as the Bassmaster Central Open Division opened its 2010 season to bright skies and surprisingly calm water on a lake known for rough conditions.
Joey Nania, one of the youngest, if not the youngest angler in the field at 18, and Bassmaster Elite pro Clark Reehm share the lead with 24 pounds, while former Women's Bassmaster Tour competitor Lisa Stenard brought in the day's only double-digit bass, a 10 pound, 4 ounce lunker.
Nania, fishing his first Open event after winning two Junior Bassmaster World Championship titles, caught all his bass in one area, and attributed much of his success to a new soft plastic lure he doesn't believe Amistad fish have seen before. He had 20 pounds in the livewell by 10 a.m. and gradually increased his weight the remainder of the day.
Reehm, by contrast, noted that he was using both hard and soft plastic lures in as many as eight different places around the massive 67,000-acre Rio Grande River impoundment, and that he caught as many as 25 fish in one of those spots but all were small.
They're followed by Aaron Johnson in third with 23-8; Tim Reneau, 23-4; and Ray Hanselman, 23-2. Overall, 28 pros broke the 20-pound mark.
"I never put a bass weighing less than three pounds in my livewell all day," said Reehm, "because I know they won't win this tournament. I think the entire tournament is going to hinge on getting a random big bite because nearly everyone is catching bass now."
Lisa Stenard's random big bite came at 12:30 p.m. after she already had her five-bass limit, and it promptly doubled her entire weight. The bass hit a soft plastic lure in 18 feet of water; it's her largest bass ever, but not her first 10-pounder from Amistad. The Clarksville, Tenn., angler caught a 10-1 lunker during the WBT event here in 2008.
The lack of double-digit largemouths surprised many, and special arrangements had even been made in case someone brought in a 13-pound bass that would qualify for the Texas ShareLunker program. What was not surprising, however, were the overall numbers of bass brought to the scales; the 201 pros caught 949 bass weighing more than 2,940 pounds, while their non-boater partners added 532 more weighing 1,618 pounds.
Louisiana angler Buz Craft leads the non-boater division with three fish weighing 18 pounds, 10 ounces. He was paired with former Bassmaster Classic contender Clark Wendlandt, who weighed in 20-5 and sits in 25th place.
Fishing might actually improve Friday, as windy conditions are predicted. While the wind will slow the sight fishing, it could improve the action for those throwing swimbaits and jerkbaits.