MANY, La. — The expectation among Bassmaster Central Open anglers was for lots of 20-pound sacks after the first day of competition was canceled due to unsafe weather conditions on Toledo Bend Reservoir.
With 20 pounds, 12 ounces, Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla., was the only angler to top the mark during the tournament's weigh-in Friday.
The full field of pros and co-anglers will compete Saturday, March 7, the final day of competition. At stake for the pros is a top prize of $45,000 and valuable points toward qualifying for the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season and the 2010 Bassmaster Classic out of Birmingham, Ala., set for Feb. 19-21.
Co-anglers will compete in the Opens for the top prize of a Triton/Mercury boat and motor package valued at $32,000.
Fans are invited to the Open's final day takeoff and weigh-in Saturday at Cypress Bend Park, located at 3462 Cypress Bend Drive, Many, La. Anglers will launch their boats at 7:30 a.m. TT and the weigh-ins are scheduled to begin at 3:35 p.m. ET at the park.
All activities are free and open to the public. Fishing fans can also follow the action on Bassmaster.com with daily stories, photo galleries and more.
As Newby sat and watched nine more flights of anglers go through the weigh-in, he was shocked that his sack of bass held the lead.
"I don't think it's going to last," said Newby after exiting the weigh-in stage. "There are going to be a lot of big fish weighed in. I really thought it would be better today."
In second-place is Texas' Harold Allen, whose 19-pound, 8-ounce bag included a 10-pound, 15-ounce bass. He was followed by Carl Svebek III of Siloam Springs, Ark., with 19 pounds.
Rounding out the top five were Bassmaster Elite Series pro Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., and Gary Key of Laveen, Ariz., each of whom weighed in 18-13.
Most of the field commented on having great practices and a very tough day of fishing, but Newby said he didn't have any problem putting together his limit. His was fishing about 25 miles north of the launch and focused on pre-spawners.
"I lost almost as many as I caught," Newby said. "I think I'm kind of in the migration route. I think I'm catching them coming in to spawn."
He declined to go into detail about his pattern, but admitted that he wasn't covering a lot of water.
"I fished basically pretty slow," Newby said.
Allen of Shelbyville, Texas, sitting more than one pound behind Newby, was open about his pattern, a 5-inch V&M Chopstick.
"I was blind casting on spawning flats," Allen said. "We were just covered up with (other) guys. I only caught two fish and I knew I needed to go. I just left and went for broke."
By the time he found another productive flat, he only had time to put two more fish in the boat.
The highlight of his day, which occurred after he found a second location to fish, came when his 10-15 lunker nabbed his bait.
"I throwed up there, and the line just started easing away," Allen said. "I set the hook and said, 'Oh! Get the net.'"
Robbie Latuso of Gonzales, La., goes into the final day leading the co-angler division with 16-5. He was using a Smithwick Rogue and a crankbait.
Ken Coats of Tulsa, Okla., is in second place in the co-angler division with a 15-pound, 14-ounce total, while Glenn Robertson of Shreveport, La., sits in third place with 15 pounds, 8 ounces.
The next stop in the three-tournament Central Open division is the Sept. 3-5 event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir out of Jasper, Texas.
Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Opens include: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.