By BassFan Staff

There are very few double-digit largemouths in Canada, where Jeff Gustafson resides, and he'd never caught one on numerous trips to southern fisheries that kick them out regularly. He popped one on day 1 of the Pickwick Lake FLW Tour in Alabama, however, and it propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.

The third-year pro from Keewatin, Ontario caught a 24-08 sack to take the initial lead. He was an unexpected pace-setter, much unlike the guy right behind him.

Randy Haynes, who lives on this lake but catches massive stringers anywhere that big fish are set up offshore, weighed 23-09 to grab the No. 2 position. He disdained the crowded "community holes" in favor of one-fish locales that have produced for him in the past.

Richard Peek, a home-stater who's having a solid rookie campaign, grabbed the No. 3 position with a 23-01 bag. Michael Neal, another Tennessee River ledge ace, was next with 23-00.

The rejuvenated Greg Hackney, who has a trio of 3rd-place finishes across both major circuits this year, rounded out the Top 5 with 23-00.

Here's a look at the initial Top 10, with deficit margins from the leader noted by red numbers:

1. Jeff Gustafson: 24-08
2. Randy Haynes: 23-09 (0-15)
3. Richard Peek: 23-01 (1-07)
4. Michael Neal: 23-00 (1-08)
5. Greg Hackney: 22-04 (2-04)
6. Robbie Dodson: 21-11 (2-13)
7. Casey Ashley: 21-00 (3-08)
8. (tie) Wesley Strader: 20-09 (3-15)
8. (tie) Shane Lehew: 20-09 (3-15)
10. Jason Lambert: 20-02 (4-06)

As expected, the lake is fishing extremely small as the vast majority of the field is focused on the ledge bite and there aren't nearly enough schools of fish to go around. The launch order will be flip-flopped for day 2, which will benefit some of the stragglers who had high boat numbers today, but the continued crowding would only seem to benefit Haynes, the winner of last week's Kentucky Lake Central Rayovac who knows this venue intimately.

The weather turned nasty in the afternoon as the Florence, Ala. area was pounded by thunderstorms and heavy rain. Competitors in the late flights who'd ventured down toward the dam (which is located approximately 50 miles from the launch) endured a rugged trip to reach the weigh-in. The unsettled conditions are predicted to continue throughout the derby.

FLW/Kyle Wood
Photo: FLW/Kyle Wood

Randy Haynes caught only seven or eight keepers en route to his 23 1/2-pound bag.

Runaway Angler of the Year leaders Andy Morgan and Cody Meyer are duking it out again, as they have at each event this year. Morgan sacked 19-15 to settle into 11th and Meyer is just three places further back with 19-10.

The field will be reduced to the Top 20 following the day-2 weigh-in. Only the Top 10 will advance to Sunday, when the winner will be determined by highest cumulative weight.

Great Day for Gustafson

> Day 1: 5, 24-08

Gustafson, a hunting and fishing guide in the North Country, said this was definitely the best day of his tour-level career (this is his 15th event on the circuit) and possibly the most fun he's ever had with a rod and reel.

"I had a decent practice, but a lot of the big schools I found were in really obvious spots," he said. "I never found anything that I thought was inconspicuous and there's obviously not a lot of secret spots on this lake.

"After I had a decent weight I wasn't going to beat up on any of my other stuff even though a couple of the other places were open. I ended up finding a couple new spots that might be pretty good."

He caught the big one right around noon. It inhaled a jig in 16 feet of water.

"I'd actually caught three little ones on consecutive casts right before that, and then I threw back up there and caught that one. I wasn't really expecting it. It came right up and jumped out of the water, and that's when panic sat in. I had the shakes after it was in the net.

"I've been to Mexico five times and I've fished in Florida and Texas and caught half a dozen 9-pounders, but I'd never had one over 10 before."

His previous best finish in a Tour event was a 20th in his initial outing at Lake Okeechobee in 2012. He came into this tournament at No. 101 in the points race.

He'd be satisfied with 17 or 18 pounds on day 2.

"I'm very excited to get back out there tomorrow. Hopefully I can catch enough to get to Saturday, then we'll go from there, I guess.

"If I can get around a few of those better schools I think I'll do okay."

2nd: Haynes was a Lone Wolf

> Day 1: 5, 23-09

Haynes said he did the majority of his damage in the latter part of the day. He caught only seven or eight keepers.

"I was mainly looking for individual fish," he said. "I decided I didn't want to fight those crowds and I'm just not going to do it. They're out there fighting for points and money and I was blessed last week, so I just decided to stay away.

"I've got a pretty good feel for what I need to do, but the scary part is I'm not getting many bites. The ones I'm getting are good ones, though."

All of his fish were enticed by a ProFound Outdoors Z-Boss 20 crankbait. He had three in the 5-pound class.

"I'm fishing single-fish, big-fish places that you'd usually go to after you had a good limit. I just went straight to them. It's one of those deals where I might not get a bite tomorrow.

"I went over a ton of stuff today, trying to figure out where guys had pushed them to, and I really didn't find anything. I can't believe they're catching them as good as they are."

3rd: Rough Ride for Peek

> Day 1: 5, 23-01

Peek lives 3 1/2 hours from Pickwick in Centre, Ala. Guntersville is his home lake. In 2011 he captured co-angler victories at the Pickwick Rayovac and the Tour event at Kentucky Lake.

"I don't come here much other than for big tournaments," he said. "I didn't pre-practice for this one because I knew there'd only be so many places where the fish would be.

"I didn't fish in crowds as much as I thought I was going to have to. On one of my best spots there were two other guys and everybody was courteous and we had no problems at all. On my other two spots I only saw one or two boats."

His bag included a pair of 5 1/2-pounders and a 5. He caught fish on a jig, a swimbait and a big worm.

"I probably didn't catch 10 keepers. I tried to stay away from the giant schools because I knew they'd get pounded so bad. I looked for long ledges that people might go down and only graph one or two fish and leave.

"My game plan is to sit there and pick them apart and try to be patient."

5th: Hackney Got Out Early

> Day 1: 5, 22-04

Hackney's boat was the fourth to leave the launch and he was pleased to discover that the fish he'd found 4 days earlier were still there.

"I didn't have a super practice, but I found three spots that I thought had a lot of potential," he said. "The place I caught them off today was the first one I found and I knew it had a big wad, but I hadn't been back since Sunday.

"One of my other places didn't get fished – I didn't fish it, either, but I rode by and checked it – and the third one a guy sat on for most of the day."

All five of the fish he took to the scale were in the 4 1/2-pound range.

"Evidently nobody found that one place but me and I'll try to start there again in the morning. I caught them today until I couldn't make them bite anymore."

6th: Dodson was Steady

> Day 1: 5, 21-11

Dodson stayed offshore all day and visited a multitude of locations – he said he burned about 40 gallons of gas.

"I had a pretty good practice, but I didn't do a lot of fishing," he said. "I mostly idled around trying to find a place or two that everybody else wouldn't find, and that's almost impossible here. Most of the places I wanted to fish already had like 10 boats on them.

"It pretty well took all day (to compile his weight). It wasn't fast or fantastic – just one here and then maybe another one an hour later.

He brought three 5-pounders and a pair that were slightly over 3 to the scale. He employed various offerings, including crankbaits, swimbaits, Carolina rigs and jigs.

"I'll make the same run tomorrow and hopefully I can catch another 5-pounder or two and squeak in there (above the cutline). If I don't get at least a couple of those kinds of fish I could have 12 pounds, and I might not even catch that if I don't get on a spot."

157th: Dalbey Disappointed

> Day 1: 1, 2-01

Rich Dalbey was 10th in the points coming into the event, but he'll need a huge day 2 to avoid taking a precipitous fall down that list after weighing just a single 2-pounder.

"My practice was pretty terrible," he said. "I came over to pre-practice and it was tough then – there'd been a couple of cold fronts – but then I went over to Kentucky Lake and cashed a check in the Rayovac and thought maybe I'd figured out a little bit about ledge-fishing.

"Then I came over here and it's just been a struggle all week. I don't have any excuses – I just never figured it out."

He said he was around competitors who caught strong bags, but he was unable to get the right bites.

"I caught a few good shallow fish in pre-practice and I ran and checked those places when I was struggling and my co-angler caught two keepers. Tomorrow I'll just stay deep and see if I can make a rebound and salvage some points."

Notable

> Day 1 stats – 165 anglers, 121 limits, 11 fours, 9 threes, 9 twos, 9 ones, 6 zeroes.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., June 6 – Scattered T-Storms - 85°/68°
- Wind: From the WSW at 7 mph

> Sat., June 7 – Isolated T-Storms - 88°/71°
- Wind: From the SW at 5 mph

> Sun., June 8 – Scattered T-Storms - 85°/69°
- Wind: From the WSW at 8 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 24-08 (5)

2. Randy Haynes -- Counce, Tn -- 23-09 (5)

3. Richard Peek -- Centre, Al -- 23-01 (5)

4. Michael Neal -- Dayton, Tn -- 23-00 (5)

5. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, La -- 22-04 (5)

6. Robbie Dodson -- Harrison, Ar -- 21-11 (5)

7. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, Sc -- 21-00 (5)

8. Shane Lehew -- Charlotte, Nc -- 20-09 (5)

8. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, Tn -- 20-09 (5)

10. Jason Lambert -- Pickwick Dam, Tn -- 20-02 (5)

11. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 19-15 (5)

12. Troy Hollowell -- Paducah, Ky -- 19-12 (5)

13. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 19-11 (5)

14. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 19-10 (5)

15. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, Al -- 19-09 (5)

16. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, Ca -- 19-07 (5)

16. Brad Knight -- Wartburg, Tn -- 19-07 (5)

18. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 19-06 (5)

19. Spencer Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ar -- 18-15 (5)

20. Austin Terry -- San Angelo, Tx -- 18-12 (5)

21. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, Fl -- 18-09 (5)

22. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, Ok -- 18-06 (5)

23. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky -- 18-03 (5)

23. Michael Wooley -- Collierville, Tn -- 18-03 (5)

25. Drew Benton -- Panama City, Fl -- 18-01 (5)

26. Casey Martin -- New Hope, Al -- 17-14 (5)

27. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 17-12 (5)

27. Jason Quinn -- Rock Hill, Sc -- 17-12 (5)

29. Rick Cotten -- Guntersville, Al -- 17-10 (5)

29. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, Al -- 17-10 (5)

29. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, Sc -- 17-10 (5)

32. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 17-09 (5)

33. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, Ga -- 17-05 (5)

33. Ray Scheide -- Dover, Ar -- 17-05 (5)

35. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, Nc -- 16-12 (5)

36. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 16-08 (5)

37. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 16-04 (5)

38. JT Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 16-02 (5)

39. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 16-01 (5)

40. Shinichi Fukae -- Palestine, Tx -- 15-15 (5)

40. Shad Schenck -- Waynetown, In -- 15-15 (5)

42. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 15-14 (5)

43. Randy Blaukat -- Joplin, Mo -- 15-12 (5)

44. Brent Long -- Iron Station, Nc -- 15-11 (5)

44. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 15-11 (5)

46. Charlie Evans -- Gilbertsville, Ky -- 15-10 (5)

47. Lionel Botha -- Okeechobee, Fl -- 15-09 (5)

48. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, Az -- 15-08 (5)

49. Tony Davis -- Williston, Fl -- 15-02 (5)

49. Charlie Ingram -- Centerville, Tn -- 15-02 (5)

51. Bill McDonald -- Greenwood, In -- 15-00 (5)

52. Skip Johnson -- Goodells, Mi -- 14-15 (5)

52. Jason Meninger -- Gainesville, Ga -- 14-15 (5)

54. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, Ar -- 14-14 (5)

54. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 14-14 (5)

56. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 14-13 (5)

57. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 14-12 (5)

58. Troy Gibson -- Eufaula, Al -- 14-10 (5)

59. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 14-09 (5)

60. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 14-08 (5)

60. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 14-08 (5)

62. RC Cooper -- Nashua, Nh -- 14-07 (5)

63. Chris Baumgardner -- Gastonia, Nc -- 14-03 (5)

64. Patrick Bone -- Cleveland, Ga -- 14-02 (5)

65. Matt Arey -- Shelby, Nc -- 14-00 (5)

66. Stephen Mckinnie -- Umatila, Fl -- 13-15 (5)

67. Greg Bohannan -- Rogers, Ar -- 13-13 (5)

67. Ramie Colson Jr -- Cadiz, Ky -- 13-13 (5)

67. Guido Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 13-13 (5)

67. Shawn Murphy -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 13-13 (5)

67. Clark Reehm -- Huntington, Tx -- 13-13 (5)

72. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 13-11 (5)

73. Zach Caudle -- Shreveport, La -- 13-10 (5)

74. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, Nj -- 13-09 (5)

75. Jeff Sprague -- Point, Tx -- 13-08 (5)

76. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 13-07 (5)

77. Bill Day -- Frankfort, Ky -- 13-06 (5)

77. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 13-06 (5)

79. Mark Daniels Jr -- Fairfield, Ca -- 13-04 (5)

80. Luke Clausen -- Spokane, Wa -- 13-02 (5)

81. John Devere -- Berea, Ky -- 13-00 (5)

81. Matt Herren -- Ashville, Al -- 13-00 (5)

83. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 12-14 (5)

84. Philip Jarabeck -- Lynchburg, Va -- 12-12 (5)

85. David Fritts -- Lexington, Nc -- 12-10 (5)

85. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 12-10 (5)

87. Jim Dillard -- West Monroe, La -- 12-08 (5)

88. Jonathan Newton -- Rogersville, Al -- 12-07 (5)

89. Marc Evans -- Angola, In -- 12-04 (5)

89. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 12-04 (5)

91. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, Sc -- 12-02 (5)

92. Scott Suggs -- Bryant, Ar -- 12-01 (5)

92. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 12-01 (5)

92. Alton Wilhoit -- Harrah, Ok -- 12-01 (5)

95. Terry Bolton -- Paducah, Ky -- 12-00 (5)

96. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 11-15 (4)

96. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, Pa -- 11-15 (5)

96. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ar -- 11-15 (5)

99. Koby Kreiger -- Bokeelia, Fl -- 11-10 (5)

100. Cody Bird -- Granbury, Tx -- 11-09 (5)

101. Drew Montgomery -- Denver, Nc -- 11-08 (5)

102. Leon Williams -- Fairdale, Ky -- 11-07 (4)

103. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 11-06 (5)

104. Nick Prvonozac -- Warren, Oh -- 11-04 (5)

105. Brandon Hunter -- Benton, Ky -- 11-03 (5)

105. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 11-03 (4)

107. Payden Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 11-01 (5)

108. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 11-00 (5)

109. Clayton Batts -- Macon, Ga -- 10-15 (5)

110. Ryan Davidson -- Huntington, Wv -- 10-14 (5)

111. Jerry Reagan -- Byrdstown, Tn -- 10-12 (5)

111. Kevin Stewart -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 10-12 (3)

113. Dion Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 10-07 (5)

113. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, Fl -- 10-07 (5)

113. Peter Thliveros -- Saint Augustine, Fl -- 10-07 (4)

116. Ryan Chandler -- Valparaiso, In -- 10-06 (5)

116. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, Ok -- 10-06 (5)

116. Tim Malone -- Gatlinburg, Tn -- 10-06 (5)

119. Andrew Luxon -- Richmond, Ky -- 10-02 (5)

119. Gary Yamamoto -- Palestine, Tx -- 10-02 (5)

121. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Tx -- 9-15 (5)

122. Vic Vatalaro -- Kent, Oh -- 9-13 (5)

123. Todd Hollowell -- Fishers, In -- 9-10 (5)

124. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 9-09 (5)

125. Terry Segraves -- Kissimmee, Fl -- 9-07 (5)

126. Kyle White -- Tightwad, Mo -- 9-05 (5)

127. Robert Pearson -- Herndon, Va -- 9-04 (4)

128. Stuart Arthur -- Benton, Mo -- 9-01 (3)

128. Wade Leblanc -- Gonzales, La -- 9-01 (4)

130. Robert Collins -- Morrow, Oh -- 9-00 (3)

131. Chris Heath -- North Augusta, Sc -- 8-13 (4)

132. David Smith -- Del City, Ok -- 8-09 (4)

133. Jeff Barth -- Marshfield, Wi -- 8-03 (4)

134. James Christian -- Dickson, Tn -- 7-12 (3)

135. Jacob Wheeler -- Indianapolis, In -- 7-11 (4)

136. Jay Yelas -- Corvallis, Or -- 7-02 (3)

137. Tommy Martin -- Hemphill, Tx -- 6-06 (3)

138. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 6-04 (3)

139. Shirley Crain -- Fort Smith, Ar -- 6-00 (3)

140. Keith Amerson -- Selmer, Tn -- 5-13 (2)

141. Wade Hendricks -- Thompsons Station, Tn -- 5-05 (2)

142. Travis Fox -- Rogers, Ar -- 5-03 (2)

143. Blake Nick -- Adger, Al -- 5-02 (2)

144. James Watson -- Waynesville, Mo -- 5-01 (4)

145. Travis Loyd -- Kinmundy, Il -- 4-14 (3)

146. Justin Morton -- Etoile, Tx -- 4-06 (2)

147. John Murray -- Phoenix, Az -- 3-10 (2)

148. Darrell Davis -- Dover, Fl -- 3-08 (2)

149. Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 3-05 (2)

150. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, Sc -- 3-03 (2)

151. Dustin Grice -- Hewitt, Tx -- 3-02 (1)

152. Chris Neau -- New Orleans, La -- 2-11 (1)

153. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 2-10 (1)

154. Rodney Thomason -- Maumelle, Ar -- 2-07 (1)

155. Tommy Robinson -- Westland, Mi -- 2-03 (1)

156. Richard Lowitzki -- Hampshire, Il -- 2-02 (1)

157. Rich Dalbey -- Greenville, Tx -- 2-01 (1)

158. Glenn Chappelear -- Acworth, Ga -- 2-00 (1)

159. Jimmy Brewer -- Marshall, Tx -- 1-10 (1)

Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, Tn -- 0-00 (0)

Tony Dumitras -- Wnston, Ga -- 0-00 (0)

Nick Gainey -- Charleston, Sc -- 0-00 (0)

Harry Moore -- Valley, Al -- 0-00 (0)

Bob Morin -- Seymour, Tn -- 0-00 (0)

Eric Olliverson -- Lampe, Mo -- 0-00 (0)

Big Bass

> Day 1: Jeff Gustafson -- 10-12 -- $500