Bassmaster Classic lead goes to VanDam
|Photo by JOHN E. PHILLIPS|
Kevin VanDam was all smiles after landing 19 1/2 pounds of bass during the first day of the Bassmaster Classic. That set the pace, and the two-time champion feels there are more bass to catch in his area.
Todd Faircloth of Texas was close behind with 18-2, and it took almost 15 Ĺ pounds to make the top five.
ďYou canít win the Bassmaster Classic on the first day, but you sure can lose it,Ē VanDam said. ďThe bass were doing what I thought theyíd be doing.
He said he has a couple of things going for him going into Day 2.
ďIíve had several patterns working for me today,Ē VanDam said. ďThe bass arenít really shallow, nor are they very deep.Ē
And it doesnít hurt that his bass arenít being pressured by other competitors.
ďNo one else is fishing my area, and thatís a good thing,Ē he said. ďSo, Iíve pretty much got that region to myself.
ďI really feel good about tomorrow; however, I donít know if I can catch that many pounds of bass tomorrow.Ē
He was mum on how he built his limit, saying only he was using a newly designed bait.
In a heart-break, local favorite Boyd Duckett was able to boat only a 1-pound, 12-ounce bass after blowing his outboard at 10 a.m. Duckett won his one Classic title the last time the event was held in Lay Lake in 2007.
Tournament officials allowed him to switch to his brotherís boat, but the boat had no electronics or water-temperature gauges – and none of his tackle.
Here is what other pros said about their first day:
James Niggemeyer of Texas (10th, 13-3)
ďI feel like I had a good day of fishing after fighting walking pneumonia for two days. I struggled going into practice and also missed two days of practice. So, going out this morning, I didnít know what to expect. I actually culled twice today. Iím pretty happy with the way my day turned-out. I was catching most of my bass flipping with a Strike King Rodent. My two biggest fish came on the Rodent. I had a mixed bag of spotted bass and largemouths. My plan was to catch a limit of spotted bass, and then go out and fish for largemouths. Iíll probably fish the same way tomorrow on Day 2 that I did today. If the weather stays like it was today, I canít see why the fishing wonít get better. But I also plan to move into some new areas and some new water. I was running and gunning today, and I want to show my baits to some different bass tomorrow.Ē
Mark Menendez of Kentucky†(26th, 7-9)
ďI got five bass today – about 7 pounds. I had five fish by 8 a.m., but I didnít get a bite after then. I donít know why the bass where I was shut down. But all of the ones I caught, I caught on a jerkbait, the Strike King Wild Shiner.Ē
Shaw Grigsby of Florida (29th, 6-15)
ďI caught some fish! I pulled up on this little spot Iíd found, and the very first bass I hooked was a 3-pounder, but I lost it. Next I caught a keeper. Then I caught a dose of insanity. Iíve got a hot boat – the Triton SS – with a big Mercury motor on the back. When youíve got a boat like that, you just feel like you need to run it up and down the lake. So, I ran all the way down to the dam, fished a little there, and then ran all the way back to my starting spot. I caught three more bass where I had started but lost another bass. I was throwing a Strike King Red Eye Shad, and thatís what Iím planning to do tomorrow, but Iíll catch me a limit of bass tomorrow. This time Iím not going to leave my fish and run up and down the lake.Ē
Greg Hackney of Louisiana (40th, 3-5)
"I had a long day of fishing. I got one bass. I donít know what happened today, except that the water conditions changed. I had been catching some bass on a jig out in front of some grass. But I threw my Hack Attack jig in the black-and-blue color all day today, and just had one bite and caught one fish. I really think the bass were there where I was fishing. However, for some reason they just didnít want to bite. I donít think the bass had moved, because the weather had been so cold. But on the days when I was catching the bass, the skies were cloudy and the wind was blowing. Today the weather was sunny, and the water was slick, which caused the water to warm-up better. So, I think the bass may have suspended."
Denny Brauer of Missouri (49th, 0)
ďI think too many of us keyed on the same bass in the same area. Something must have happened in the fishís environment that we didnít understand that caused them to act like they did. Today we all guessed wrong. I really believe that the opportunity to catch a good stringer is in the region where Iím fishing if the bass will just set back up on that spot the way they have been in practice. Thereís a small window of opportunity to catch these bass. They had been biting previously between 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm. But that didnít happen today.
ďWhat I do tomorrow doesnít really matter, since I didnít catch any bass today. Iíd like to do anything tomorrow other than go bass fishing on Lay Lake. I donít know what Iím going to do tomorrow. I really had a lot of confidence in what I did today. There are some big bass to be caught on this spot, but I really donít know what Iíll do tomorrow. Iím going to try to regroup attitude-wise and bait-wise and come up with a better plan for tomorrow.Ē
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No one, including Howell really thought he had a shot.
“I didn’t expect to have the chance to win after the first day, and especially after yesterday,” Howell said.
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