Stringer Leads Central Opening

 JASPER, Texas — With rain coming down at a constant pace at Sam Rayburn Reservoir Thursday, 368 anglers set out to bring in some serious fish at the CITGO Bassmaster Central Open presented by Busch Beer. Brad Stringer from Texas came out with the day one lead, landing 21 pounds, 10 ounces.

 "I don't know if the rain helped me at all," Stringer said. "I wouldn't say that it did. I think a little sunshine would have helped. I didn't have a bite for the first two hours using a top-water bait. I decided to change what I was doing and changed to a Carolina Rig at about 11:30 or 12:00. I had my best bites between 12:00 and 2:00. I had my limit and culled four fish I think. I was Carolina rigging a Baby Wedge Hog with a 1-ounce thumper.

 "I think the key for tomorrow is to relax and put five fish in the boat. I think if I can get the 4- or 5-pounders to bite tomorrow I'll be fine. I think I can be confident tomorrow with a 13- or 14-pound bag."

 Arkansas's Ron Shuffield was close behind with a total weight of 20-1.

 "The rain usually improves the bite, but it's kind of hurting what I'm trying to do," Shuffield said. "I don't want to get into what I'm doing right now, but it's kind of a special deal they don't do here in Texas. I'm using top-water baits.

 "The fish today weren't aggressive at all. I lost two or three fish, but nothing big.

 We'll just have to see what kind of luck I have tomorrow. I don't plan on being in

 second place long."

 The gap between second and third is more significant, with Oklahoma's Edwin

 Evers bringing in a full pound less than Shuffield at 19-1.

 Alfred Williams and Jessie Dramie, both from Mississippi, rounded out the top

 five with weights of 18-8 and 18-5, respectively.

 Bill Rogers, a local angler, leads the amateurs with 15 pounds even.

 The weather looks to be staying the same for the second day of competition with

 a 70 percent chance of showers all day tomorrow. The Bassmaster Central

 Open continues through Oct. 11 with daily weigh-ins at 3:15 p.m. at Twin Dikes


 BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000

 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce

 the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit

 featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO

 Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer is the oldest and most

 prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard

 for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.