By BassFan Staff

Rick Cotten figured that if things went well on the first day of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir FLW Tour, he could bring a 15- or 16-pound bag to the scale. He exceeded that mark by a bunch.

The third-year pro from Alabama took the initial lead with a 25-15 stringer as rain and powerful winds swept the big Texas impoundment and made it a tough day for the entire field – whether they caught quality sacks or not. His stringer contained three fish in the 7-pound class.

He led 2nd-place Andy Montgomery by a little over a pound. Montgomery, competing for the fourth consecutive week and coming off a couple of solid Bassmaster Elite Series showings, boxed 24-11.

Mark Rose, who's become a deep-water maven in recent years, fished skinny water today and roped 23-14 to take the No. 3 slot. In 4th was West Virginia rookie Ryan Davidson, the 9th-place finisher in the previous event at Lake Hartwell, with 21-06.

Steve Kennedy, another two-tour pro in the midst of a marathon six-week stretch, completed the Top 5 with 18-14.

Here's how the initial Top 10 stacks up, with deficit margin from the leader indicated by red numbers:

1. Rick Cotten: 25-15
2. Andy Montgomery: 24-11 (1-04)
3. Mark Rose: 23-14 (2-01)
4. Ryan Davidson: 21-06 (4-09)
5. Steve Kennedy: 18-14 (7-01)
6. Bryan Thrift: 18-12 (7-03)
7. Brandon Cobb: 18-08 (7-07)
8. Ramie Colson Jr.: 17-12 (8-03)
9. (tie) Shinichi Fukae: 17-09 (8-06)
9. (tie) Lendell Martin Jr.: 17-09 (8-07)

Some big fish were caught today – led by Jay Yelas' 8-13 bruiser – but nothing came easy due to the foul weather. Seventy-one of the 175 anglers failed to weigh a limit, including Yelas, whose bag was short by two fish.

Angler of the Year (AOY) leader Brett Hite, who already has a pair of tour-level wins this year, had a mediocre day as he sacked just 11-13 and sits in 68th place. Cody Meyer, who came in at No. 2 in the points race, fared slightly better as his 13-03 stringer left him in 51st.

Andy Morgan, who's made the Top-20 cut in six straight events dating back to last year, has some work to do tomorrow to keep that streak alive. He's in 39th with 13-10.

FLW/Rob Newell
Photo: FLW/Rob Newell

Andy Montgomery's 24-11 sack on day 1 left him just a little over a pound out of the lead.

Conditions should be much calmer on day 2 as the forecast calls for clouds and just a moderate breeze before a few thunderstorms arrive in the afternoon. It'll be much warmer, with a predicted high of 83 degrees.

The field will be reduced to 20 after the day-2 weigh-in, and then to 10 for the final day. The winner will be determined Sunday based on highest cumulative weight.

Cotten Fished Slowly

> Day 1: 5, 25-15

Cotten had a solid practice, but had no inkling that he could catch a bag as big as the one he weighed today.

"It was a total shock," he said. "The wind was really bad and what that forced me to do was stay in one spot (a relatively short grass line), and I just slowed way down.

"I only caught about seven keepers, as opposed to practice when I was catching 30 to 40 a day. I've got another creek farther down the lake where I can catch a lot of keepers, but the same kind of quality isn't there and I didn't want to chance the run in that wind."

He had a considerable amount of company in his primary area and didn't want to reveal much about his pattern, but said he caught pre-spawn fish with a bait produced by Knockout Jigs. His bag would've been substantially larger if he hadn't lost a fourth 7-pounder right at the boat.

He doesn't think his action will be adversely affected by a weather shift on day 2.

"I think I'll be safe for tomorrow, provided I can catch a few and make the cut, but I'll probably have to change things for Saturday. If what I'm doing isn't working, I won't stay with it for long."

2nd: Three Good Ones for Montgomery

> Day 1: 5, 24-11

Montgomery went into the day with a lot of guarded optimism.

"I thought the potential was there to catch a good bag, but I also could've easily caught 10 pounds, too," he said. "I don't know if the weather helped or hurt, but I felt real fortunate to get four big bites."

His bag contained an 8-pounder, a trio of 5s and a 2. He compiled most of it in the afternoon and didn't lose anything that would've helped him.

He caught fish in two different locales.

"It's not like I'm by myself in one place. I've got some boats around and one guy saw me catching them and kind of moseyed out there with me.

"This thing's really kind of touch and go or me because I'm not getting a lot of bites. I could go out tomorrow and not catch a limit."

Lew's
Photo: Lew's

Mark Rose pulled nearly 24 pounds worth of Rayburn bass from the shallows.

3rd: Rose Pulled Back

> Day1: 5, 23-14

Rose was similar to Cotten in that he assumed 16 pounds or so was the upper limit of what he could realistically expect to box.

"You can't anticipate catching two 7-pounders and I feel truly blessed to get those two big bites," he said. "I feel like I've been in tune with the fish, but the weather's supposed to change and I don't know what that'll do. We may not have the wind and the clouds and I haven't been faced with that scenario yet."

Fishing "shallow" was about all he'd admit to.

"With the high winds and the little bit of mud, it seemed like backing out another foot made all the difference. It still seemed like it was a slow go all day, though. I never had a spurt where I got a lot of bites – it was just one here and one there.

"I fished clean, but I'm not catching a lot of fish. What I'm doing is slow and I'm grinding it out."

4th: Davidson on 'Em

> Day 1: 5, 21-06

Davidson parlayed an excellent practice period into a superb day 1.

"I caught 18 to 20 keepers (today) and I had one that was right around 8 pounds," he said. "I lost one fish all day that might've helped, but I never got a real good look at it.

"I had pretty much all my weight by 10:30 and then I practiced the rest of the day and culled three times, but they were all balance-beam calls. I ended up finding some good areas."

He's targeting post-spawn fish, but said he's certain that one he weighed today was a pre-spawner.

"I don't think there was one boat that saw me catch a fish all day. I saw some people in the same vicinity, but they weren't doing what I was doing.

"I've got a lot of areas to run and I only visited one today. I think what I'm doing should hold up pretty good."

162nd: Avena 'Spun Out'

> Day 1: 2, 3-02

The bracket on Adrian Avena's trolling motor broke this morning and instead of returning to the launch to have it repaired, he tried to make do. In hindsight, that was a bad decision.

"Honestly, I got spun out," he said. "I had to tie (the trolling motor) down to the pace where the rods are strapped. I should've gone in, but I was an hour away from the launch.

"I'd been catching them all shallow (in practice), going down the bank, and I couldn't do that. I just went out in the middle of the pocket and threw a (soft stickbait), and that wasn't happening."

He'll have to gun for a big sack on day 2 in a quest to salvage a decent number of AOY points.

"I'll try to catch a limit quick and then I'll throw on a big swimbait and try to get some big ones. If I can get a couple bites on that, maybe I can weigh a big stringer."

Notable

> Day 1 stats – 175 anglers, 104 limits, 28 fours, 18 threes, 15 twos, 8 ones, 2 zeroes.

> Larry Nixon (166th, two fish for 2-09) endured a miserable day. "I lost track of the fish on the last day of practice and today the wind was so bad that I couldn't get anything going," he said. "I'll just do my best to catch a big string tomorrow."

Weather Forecast

> Fri., March 28 – P.M. T-Storms - 83°/57°
- Wind: From the SSW at 10 mph

> Sat., March 29 – Mostly Sunny - 77°/48°
- Wind: From the NNE at 13 mph

> Sun., March 30 – Sunny - 76°/47°
- Wind: From the SE at 6 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Rick Cotten -- Guntersville, Al -- 25-15 (5)

2. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 24-11 (5)

3. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 23-14 (5)

4. Ryan Davidson -- Huntington, Wv -- 21-06 (5)

5. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, Al -- 18-14 (5)

6. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 18-12 (5)

7. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 18-08 (5)

8. Ramie Colson Jr -- Cadiz, Ky -- 17-12 (5)

9. Shinichi Fukae -- Palestine, Tx -- 17-09 (5)

9. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 17-09 (5)

11. Jason Meninger -- Gainesville, Ga -- 17-05 (5)

12. Austin Terry -- San Angelo, Tx -- 17-04 (5)

13. Gary Yamamoto -- Palestine, Tx -- 17-00 (5)

14. Peter Thliveros -- Saint Augustine, Fl -- 16-15 (5)

15. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, SC -- 16-10 (5)

15. Jayme Rampey -- Liberty, SC -- 16-10 (5)

17. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 16-07 (5)

18. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, Ok -- 16-05 (5)

18. Jonathan Newton -- Rogersville, Al -- 16-05 (4)

20. Jimmy Brewer -- Marshall, Tx -- 16-03 (5)

20. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, La -- 16-03 (5)

20. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 16-03 (5)

23. Brad Knight -- Wartburg, Tn -- 16-01 (5)

24. Zach Caudle -- Shreveport, La -- 16-00 (5)

25. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, Ca -- 15-15 (5)

26. Richard Peek -- Centre, Al -- 15-13 (5)

27. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 15-08 (5)

27. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, Ok -- 15-08 (5)

29. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 15-07 (5)

30. Mark Daniels Jr -- Fairfield, Ca -- 15-06 (5)

30. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 15-06 (5)

32. Tony Davis -- Williston, Fl -- 15-05 (5)

33. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky -- 15-01 (5)

34. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, Pa -- 15-00 (5)

35. Shawn Murphy -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 14-15 (5)

36. Nick Prvonozac -- Warren, Oh -- 14-14 (5)

37. Spencer Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ar -- 14-13 (5)

38. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 14-12 (5)

39. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 14-06 (5)

40. Jeff Sprague -- Point, Tx -- 14-05 (5)

41. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 14-03 (5)

41. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 14-03 (5)

43. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 14-02 (5)

44. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 14-01 (5)

44. Brent Long -- Iron Station, NC -- 14-01 (5)

46. Shane Lehew -- Charlotte, NC -- 13-15 (5)

47. Rodney Thomason -- Maumelle, Ar -- 13-13 (5)

48. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 13-11 (5)

49. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 13-10 (5)

50. Shad Schenck -- Waynetown, In -- 13-04 (5)

51. Wade Hendricks -- Thompsons Station, Tn -- 13-03 (4)

51. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 13-03 (5)

53. Rich Dalbey -- Greenville, Tx -- 13-01 (5)

54. Darrell Davis -- Dover, Fl -- 13-00 (5)

55. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Tx -- 12-15 (5)

56. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, Fl -- 12-13 (5)

56. Jason Lambert -- Pickwick Dam, Tn -- 12-13 (5)

58. Jay Yelas -- Corvallis, Or -- 12-12 (3)

59. Brandon Hunter -- Benton, Ky -- 12-11 (5)

59. Vic Vatalaro -- Kent, Oh -- 12-11 (5)

61. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 12-10 (5)

61. Tony Dumitras -- Wnston, Ga -- 12-10 (5)

63. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 12-09 (5)

64. Jacob Wheeler -- Indianapolis, In -- 12-07 (5)

65. Chris Baumgardner -- Gastonia, NC -- 12-04 (5)

65. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 12-04 (5)

67. Tim Malone -- Gatlinburg, Tn -- 11-14 (5)

68. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, Az -- 11-13 (5)

68. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 11-13 (5)

68. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, Fl -- 11-13 (5)

71. Brad Rightnour -- Howard, Pa -- 11-12 (4)

72. Todd Hollowell -- Fishers, In -- 11-10 (5)

73. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 11-06 (4)

74. Lionel Botha -- Okeechobee, Fl -- 11-03 (4)

75. Matt Herren -- Trussville, Al -- 11-00 (5)

76. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 10-15 (4)

77. Michael Wooley -- Collierville, Tn -- 10-11 (4)

78. Terry Bolton -- Paducah, Ky -- 10-08 (5)

79. Robbie Dodson -- Harrison, Ar -- 10-07 (5)

80. Jim Dillard -- West Monroe, La -- 10-06 (5)

81. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 10-05 (5)

82. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 10-04 (5)

83. Patrick Bone -- Cleveland, Ga -- 10-03 (5)

84. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, Tn -- 10-02 (5)

85. Skip Johnson -- Goodells, Mi -- 10-01 (5)

85. Ray Meredith -- Smiths Grove, Ky -- 10-01 (4)

85. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 10-01 (5)

88. Koby Kreiger -- Bokeelia, Fl -- 10-00 (5)

89. Clayton Batts -- Macon, Ga -- 9-15 (5)

89. Philip Jarabeck -- Lynchburg, Va -- 9-15 (4)

91. Michael Neal -- Dayton, Tn -- 9-14 (5)

92. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 9-13 (5)

93. Robert Pearson -- Herndon, Va -- 9-12 (5)

94. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, Ar -- 9-08 (5)

94. Stephen Mckinnie -- Umatila, Fl -- 9-08 (4)

96. Scott Suggs -- Bryant, Ar -- 9-06 (5)

97. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 9-05 (5)

97. Tommy Martin -- Hemphill, Tx -- 9-05 (5)

99. John Murray -- Phoenix, Az -- 9-01 (5)

100. Richard Lowitzki -- Hampshire, Il -- 8-15 (3)

100. James Watson -- Waynesville, Mo -- 8-15 (4)

102. Luke Clausen -- Spokane, Wa -- 8-14 (5)

103. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, Al -- 8-13 (3)

104. Troy Gibson -- Eufaula, Al -- 8-12 (5)

104. Guido Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 8-12 (4)

104. Chris Neau -- New Orleans, La -- 8-12 (5)

107. Drew Montgomery -- Denver, NC -- 8-08 (4)

108. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 8-07 (4)

108. David Smith -- Del City, Ok -- 8-07 (4)

108. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 8-07 (3)

111. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 8-06 (5)

112. Marc Evans -- Angola, In -- 8-05 (5)

112. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, Ga -- 8-05 (5)

114. Troy Hollowell -- Paducah, Ky -- 8-03 (4)

114. Blake Nick -- Adger, Al -- 8-03 (4)

114. Clark Reehm -- Huntington, Tx -- 8-03 (5)

117. Charlie Evans -- Gilbertsville, Ky -- 8-02 (5)

118. Ryan Chandler -- Valparaiso, In -- 8-01 (5)

118. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 8-01 (4)

120. Eric Olliverson -- Lampe, Mo -- 7-15 (5)

121. JT Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 7-14 (5)

121. Bill Mcdonald -- Greenwood, In -- 7-14 (3)

123. Bill Day -- Frankfort, Ky -- 7-13 (5)

124. Charlie Ingram -- Centerville, Tn -- 7-12 (4)

125. Travis Loyd -- Kinmundy, Il -- 7-10 (5)

126. Terry Segraves -- Kissimmee, Fl -- 7-08 (5)

127. Drew Benton -- Panama City, Fl -- 7-05 (5)

128. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 7-03 (3)

128. Kyle White -- Tightwad, Mo -- 7-03 (4)

130. Travis Fox -- Rogers, Ar -- 7-02 (4)

130. Bob Morin -- Seymour, Tn -- 7-02 (5)

132. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 6-15 (5)

133. Randy Haynes -- Counce, Tn -- 6-13 (4)

133. Chris Heath -- North Augusta, SC -- 6-13 (3)

135. Glenn Chappelear -- Acworth, Ga -- 6-11 (4)

136. Nick Gainey -- Charleston, SC -- 6-10 (4)

137. Andrew Luxon -- Richmond, Ky -- 6-09 (3)

138. Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 6-04 (4)

139. Ray Scheide -- Dover, Ar -- 6-03 (3)

140. Jerry Reagan -- Byrdstown, Tn -- 6-02 (4)

141. Barton Aiken -- Greenville, SC -- 5-15 (3)

141. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 5-15 (3)

143. RC Cooper -- Nashua, NH -- 5-13 (4)

144. George Kapiton -- Inverness, Fl -- 5-11 (3)

144. Alton Wilhoit -- Harrah, Ok -- 5-11 (1)

146. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 5-08 (4)

146. Justin Morton -- Etoile, Tx -- 5-08 (2)

148. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 5-07 (3)

149. Shirley Crain -- Fort Smith, Ar -- 5-02 (2)

150. Stacey King -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 5-01 (3)

151. Jason Quinn -- Rock Hill, SC -- 5-00 (3)

152. Payden Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 4-14 (2)

153. Stuart Arthur -- Benton, Mo -- 4-12 (3)

154. Cody Bird -- Granbury, Tx -- 4-09 (3)

155. Kevin Stewart -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 4-02 (2)

156. Leon Williams -- Fairdale, Ky -- 3-15 (1)

157. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 3-12 (2)

158. Keith Amerson -- Bethel Springs, Tn -- 3-11 (2)

159. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, Tn -- 3-10 (2)

160. Greg Bohannan -- Rogers, Ar -- 3-04 (2)

161. James Christian -- Dickson, Tn -- 3-03 (2)

162. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, NJ -- 3-02 (2)

162. Dustin Grice -- Hewitt, Tx -- 3-02 (2)

164. Jeff Barth -- Marshfield, Wi -- 2-13 (1)

164. Tim Wilson -- Gas City, In -- 2-13 (2)

166. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ar -- 2-09 (2)

167. Wade Leblanc -- Gonzales, La -- 2-08 (2)

168. Randy Blaukat -- Joplin, Mo -- 2-07 (1)

169. Robert Collins -- Morrow, Oh -- 2-05 (3)

170. Harry Moore -- Valley, Al -- 2-04 (2)

171. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 2-03 (1)

172. Kelly Power -- Cape Fair, Mo -- 1-13 (1)

173. John Devere -- Berea, Ky -- 1-09 (1)

173. Tommy Robinson -- Westland, Mi -- 1-09 (1)

Dion Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 0-00 (0)

Casey Martin -- New Hope, Al -- 0-00 (0)

Big Bass

Day 1: Jay Yelas -- 8-13 -- $500