By BassFan Staff

Aaron Martens likes to compare Table Rock Lake to some of the fisheries that helped shape his skills in his native California. Lakes like Shasta and Oroville, both deep, clear-water mountain reservoirs in northern California, are among the comparisons he mentions when talking about the sprawling lake in the heart of the Ozarks.

The reigning Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) fished like he was right at home today as he delivered an 18-11 stringer to start the third Elite Series event of the season at the top of the leaderboard. His bag was anchored by an 8-pound largemouth and it helped give him a slim 3-ounce lead over current AOY leader Mark Davis, who stroked 18-08.

Both men seem to be at or near the top of their respective games right now. Both have fared well Davis won in 2004, Martens was 2nd in 2005 (both Bassmaster Tour events) at Table Rock in the past and Martens has made the 12-cut in six of the last seven Elite Series events dating back to last year. Davis, meanwhile, is in the midst of a run of a three straight Top-3 finishes.

Chris Lane, coming off a win 2 weeks ago at the St. Johns River, isn't far behind in 3rd after catching 18-05 today. Edwin Evers, coming off two miserable finishes to start the year, caught 17-04 and is tied with Jamie Horton for 4th.

Here's a look at the Top 12 after the opening day of competition, with deficit margin from Martens indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Aaron Martens: 18-11
2. Mark Davis: 18-08 (00-03)
3. Chris Lane: 18-05 (00-06)
4 (tie). Edwin Evers: 17-04 (1-07)
4 (tie). Jamie Horton: 17-04 (1-07)
6. Brandon Palaniuk: 16-13 (1-14)
7. Fletcher Shryock: 16-08 (2-03)
8 (tie). Greg Hackney: 16-00 (2-11)
8 (tie). Jared Miller: 16-00 (2-11)
8 (tie). Skeet Reese: 16-00 (2-11)
11. Kelley Jaye: 15-09 (3-02)
12. Mike McClelland: 15-06 (3-05)

As expected, the dominant storyline of the opening day was the number of fish caught across the lake and the challenge that involved finding the specimens that were in the 3-pound class or bigger, whether they were largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass.

A violent thunderstorm packing wicked lightning and driving rain moved across the lake during the mid-morning and forced many anglers to seek shelter. Some reported being on the sidelines for 30 minutes. Another storm was expected to cross over the lake Thursday evening and the region surrounding Table Rock was under a tornado watch through 10 p.m. The forecast for Friday calls for much cooler temperatures and partly cloudy conditions with a 10- to 20-mph northwest wind.

The fallout from the storms won't be felt until the field returns to the water in the morning, but it's expected the backs of many of the creeks will be stained if not muddy and more fish could start pulling into the shallows. The field will be trimmed to the Top 50 tomorrow and the Top 12 after Saturday will fish on Sunday, with the winner being determined by highest cumulative weight.

Open Mind Key for Martens

> Day 1: 5, 18-11

Martens attributes much of his success over the past 12 months to following his instincts and not overthinking situations. He's following the same formula this week at Table Rock and it's working so far.

"I'm happy," he said. "I have to make the right decisions the next couple days. It's a tough lake, though. I got bit a decent amount because of the weather today.

"At a lake like this you have to be open-minded. I don't even know where I'm going tomorrow. I'll most likely go somewhere totally different. That's what you have to do here."

He said the 8-pounder he weighed in today may not have been the biggest fish he's caught this week. He caught one Monday in practice that he believes may have been 6 or 8 ounces heavier.

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Mark Davis is chasing his third straight Top-3 finish to start the season and fourth straight overall.

"When you catch one that big in practice, you think you messed up and that's your big bite for the week," he said. "I was pretty dang happy when I got it in. When I hooked it and was bringing it in and got a look at it, I said, 'Wow, that's a big fish.' When I landed it, I was shaking. My legs were shaking in the boat. I didn't know what to say."

He said the area he was fishing didn't catch the brunt of the thunderstorm and he was able to continue fishing in the rain.

"I didn't fish real dirty water," he said. "I fished stained to clearer water. I saw a few boats, but everybody spreads out here, which is nice. You can run 10 miles and usually expect nobody to be there."

2nd: Kicker Caught Davis by Surprise

> Day 1: 5, 18-08

Davis is well aware of the roll he's on right now and he's hoping to keep the momentum train chugging the right direction at a venue he calls his favorite Ozarks lake.

He said the fishing was about as he expected coming off of practice.

"I didn't know if I could catch 18 pounds, but I was getting a lot of bites," he said. "This is just a great lake and one I always look forward to fishing."

He said fished in an entirely different area today than he did on the final day of practice and that was by design.

"The way this lake is, you can't get hung up in an area," he said. "You have to be willing to go somewhere else and try new things and run new water. It's always hard to repeat stuff on this lake. You might be able to go back to the same area 2 days in a row, but you'll probably have to catch them on a different bait or a different technique."

He tallied between 20 and 25 keepers today and said his 7-03 kicker came out of nowhere.

"That big one surprised me," he said. "I'd been catching a lot of little fish there and he just kind of showed up. It was a nice little surprise."

He said he ducked under a boat dock and rode out the thunderstorm this morning, but isn't quite sure what to expect tomorrow.

"It depends how fast that line goes through and how much rain falls," he said. "It's hard to say. It's a matter of how much rain we get."

3rd: Lane Caught a Pair of 5s

> Day 1: 5, 18-05

It didn't take long for Lane to surpass his expectations on the opening day with a pair of 5-pounders that anchored his bag.

"I was looking for five solid keepers," he said. "That's what I was looking for and to catch those two, it was like, 'Holy smokes!'"

He said the conditions before the storm were prime for fish to be in a biting mood and he even caught two more keepers after the weather settled back down. His keeper count for the day only reached seven, which was about what he expected.

"Some guys can catch all the keepers they want here," he said. "Not me."

He said a jig, a jerkbait and a spinnerbait "typical Table Rock baits" caught his fish today.

"I just put my head down and didn't run around a whole lot," he said. "I have a lot of momentum right now. I don't even know what to say. Momentum is like it is in other sports. When you have it, things are good. I'm having fun and that's the biggest key to me."

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Chris Lane didn't catch many fish today, but two 5-pounders helped his cause plenty.

His goal tomorrow won't differ much from today's objective.

"If the wind blows they should still bite," he added. "I'd love to put five in the well no matter what size."

4th (tie): Evers Back on Track

> Day 1: 5, 17-04

Coming off back-to-back missed checks to start the year, Evers was happy to have some positive things happen for him today. He's never gone three Elite Series events in a row without making a check.

"It felt great," he said. "I had a rough couple of tournaments to start and I'm glad to finally catch them again."

He said his practice wasn't much to get excited about, but he was able to sort through about a dozen keepers today.

"My practice was mediocre and today was mediocre, too, but I had one big one and that makes a big difference on this lake," he added.

4th (tie): Horton Kept It Simple

> Day 1: 5, 17-04

Looking back on his practice, Horton couldn't remember if he'd caught three keepers during any of the 3 days of prep time.

That's what made today so special for the Alabama pro. His bag was highlighted by a 5-08 largemouth and a 3-pound smallmouth.

"I had a fish follow my bait up to the boat yesterday and it looked like a good one," he said. "But I figured I needed to wait for the wind to come up. I caught a limit of spots this morning in like an hour, but then went about an hour without a bite. It started to get dark and I hadn't been able to catch them any day this week on the same thing. It was like I had to be doing something different.

"I did that but didn't have a bite for about 90 minutes and I decided to go to that fish I saw yesterday and I fired up there and she ate (my crankbait) right away and it was that 5-08. That put me halfway to where I needed to be."

He said he continued to fish through the thunder and lightning even though he probably shouldn't have and "went practicing the rest of the day."

"This place reminds me a little of Lake Martin back home. I'll go out and fish all of my good stuff right away and at 9 a.m., I'd have no bites. Then I'll just go to the bank and not pay much attention and catch one now and then. That's how it was today. I just had a really good today."

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Jared Miller caught his second-best fish just before the thunderstorm hit this morning.

8th (tie): Keepers at a Premium for Miller

> Day 1: 5, 16-00

Miller was not alone in that his practice produced a bevy of small fish and only a small handful of significant keepers.

"That was the deal again today," he said. "I caught 30 or 40 fish and only six keepers. It's going to be tough. I just hope to catch a keeper tomorrow."

He said he's had a history of success in one area of the lake and got some bites there in practice, but couldn't generate anything there today, so he moved to all new water.

"They're shallower than I thought they'd be," he noted. "Every fish that I had on that turned out to be a keeper I knew it instantly after they hit. I don't know why, but they just felt totally differently. When I'd catch a non-keeper, I knew it was a little one."

He said he rode out the thunderstorm under a boat dock with Dean Rojas.

"It was raining sideways and you could only see about 10 feet in front of your face," he added.

Afterward, the bite didn't pick up much.

"I caught the second-best fish 2 minutes before it started to rain and then after the storm I went 2 hours without a bite," he said. "I thought they'd turn on, but it didn't change anything. We'll have to see how much it muddies up the rivers and creeks."

73rd (tie): No Big Ones for Card

> Day 1: 5, 10-13

Brandon Card figures he caught nearly four dozen bass today, but only nine were keeper quality and the five best were all cookie-cutters.

"It was still a fun day because you're getting bit every time you turn around, but it's frustrating at the same time," he said. "It keeps you interested because they all fight hard, but every one is around 14 or 14 1/2 inches. I'm one good bite away from being where I need to be."

He mixed things up today, fishing deep and shallow.

"I think they're spread out with some deep and some shallow," he said. "I actually tried to get on a deep deal and find a magical spot like (Brent) Ehrler did a couple years ago, but I just couldn't catch them. There are a lot of fish suspending over deeper water and those you can catch on a jerkbait."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 108 anglers, 96 limits, 7 fours, 3 threes, 2 twos.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., April 4 Partly Cloudy - 59/34
- Wind: From the NW at 10 to 20 mph

> Sat., April 5 Clear - 62/40
- Wind: From the N at 5 to 10 mph

> Sun., April 6 Chance of Rain - 63/40
- Wind: From the ESE at 5 to 10 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 5, 18-11 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 18-11

2. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 5, 18-08 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 18-08

3. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 18-05 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 18-05

4. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 5, 17-04 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 17-04

4. Jamie Horton -- Centerville, AL -- 5, 17-04 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 17-04

6. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 5, 16-13 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 16-13

7. Fletcher Shryock -- New Philadelphia, OH -- 5, 16-08 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 16-08

8. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 16-00 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 16-00

8. Jared Miller -- Norman, OK -- 5, 16-00 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 16-00

8. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 5, 16-00 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 16-00

11. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 5, 15-09 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 15-09

12. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 5, 15-06 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 15-06

13. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 15-02 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 15-02

14. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, AR -- 5, 14-11 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 14-11

15. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 5, 14-10 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 14-10

15. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 5, 14-10 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 14-10

17. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 5, 14-08 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 14-08

17. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 5, 14-08 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 14-08

19. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, TX -- 5, 14-03 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 14-03

20. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 5, 14-02 -- 81
Day 1: 5, 14-02

21. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 14-00 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 14-00

22. Kurt Dove -- Del Rio, TX -- 5, 13-14 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 13-14

22. Casey Scanlon -- Lanexa, KS -- 5, 13-14 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 13-14

24. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 5, 13-12 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 13-12

25. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, FL -- 5, 13-09 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 13-09

26. Josh Bertrand -- Gilbert, AZ -- 5, 13-07 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 13-07

26. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 5, 13-07 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 13-07

28. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 5, 13-04 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 13-04

29. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 5, 13-03 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 13-03

30. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 5, 13-02 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 13-02

30. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 13-02 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 13-02

32. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 4, 13-01 -- 69
Day 1: 4, 13-01

33. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 5, 13-00 -- 68
Day 1: 5, 13-00

34. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 12-15 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 12-15

34. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, TX -- 5, 12-15 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 12-15

36. Morizo Shimizu -- Osaka JAPAN -- 5, 12-09 -- 65
Day 1: 5, 12-09

37. James Elam -- Tulsa, OK -- 5, 12-07 -- 64
Day 1: 5, 12-07

37. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 5, 12-07 -- 64
Day 1: 5, 12-07

39. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 5, 12-06 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 12-06

39. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 5, 12-06 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 12-06

39. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 5, 12-06 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 12-06

42. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 5, 12-05 -- 59
Day 1: 5, 12-05

42. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 5, 12-05 -- 59
Day 1: 5, 12-05

42. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 12-05 -- 59
Day 1: 5, 12-05

45. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 5, 12-04 -- 56
Day 1: 5, 12-04

46. Hank Cherry Jr -- Maiden, NC -- 5, 12-02 -- 55
Day 1: 5, 12-02

46. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 5, 12-02 -- 55
Day 1: 5, 12-02

48. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 5, 12-01 -- 53
Day 1: 5, 12-01

49. Jacob Powroznik -- Port Haywood, VA -- 5, 12-00 -- 52
Day 1: 5, 12-00

50. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 11-15 -- 51
Day 1: 5, 11-15

51. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 5, 11-14 -- 50
Day 1: 5, 11-14

51. Boo Woods -- Oneida, KY -- 5, 11-14 -- 50
Day 1: 5, 11-14

53. Glenn Browne -- Ocala, FL -- 5, 11-12 -- 48
Day 1: 5, 11-12

53. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, OK -- 5, 11-12 -- 48
Day 1: 5, 11-12

55. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 5, 11-11 -- 46
Day 1: 5, 11-11

56. Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, OK -- 5, 11-09 -- 45
Day 1: 5, 11-09

57. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 11-08 -- 44
Day 1: 5, 11-08

58. Tim Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 5, 11-07 -- 43
Day 1: 5, 11-07

59. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 11-06 -- 42
Day 1: 5, 11-06

60. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 5, 11-05 -- 41
Day 1: 5, 11-05

61. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 5, 11-04 -- 40
Day 1: 5, 11-04

62. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 5, 11-03 -- 39
Day 1: 5, 11-03

62. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 5, 11-03 -- 39
Day 1: 5, 11-03

64. Tracy Adams -- Wilkesboro, NC -- 5, 11-01 -- 37
Day 1: 5, 11-01

64. Chad Pipkens -- Holt, MI -- 5, 11-01 -- 37
Day 1: 5, 11-01

64. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 5, 11-01 -- 37
Day 1: 5, 11-01

67. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 5, 11-00 -- 34
Day 1: 5, 11-00

67. Charlie Hartley -- Grove City, OH -- 5, 11-00 -- 34
Day 1: 5, 11-00

67. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 5, 11-00 -- 34
Day 1: 5, 11-00

70. Kenyon Hill -- Norman, OK -- 5, 10-15 -- 31
Day 1: 5, 10-15

70. Joseph Sancho -- New Windsor, NY -- 5, 10-15 -- 31
Day 1: 5, 10-15

72. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, TX -- 5, 10-14 -- 29
Day 1: 5, 10-14

73. Brandon Card -- Caryville, TN -- 5, 10-13 -- 28
Day 1: 5, 10-13

73. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 5, 10-13 -- 28
Day 1: 5, 10-13

75. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 4, 10-13 -- 26
Day 1: 4, 10-13

76. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 10-11 -- 25
Day 1: 5, 10-11

76. John Murray -- Phoenix, AZ -- 5, 10-11 -- 25
Day 1: 5, 10-11

78. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 5, 10-10 -- 23
Day 1: 5, 10-10

78. Trevor Romans -- Plano, TX -- 5, 10-10 -- 23
Day 1: 5, 10-10

80. Jason Williamson -- Aiken, SC -- 5, 10-09 -- 21
Day 1: 5, 10-09

81. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 5, 10-08 -- 20
Day 1: 5, 10-08

82. Shaw Grigsby Jr. Gainesville, FL -- 5, 10-07 -- 19
Day 1: 5, 10-07

82. Dennis Tietje -- Roanoke, LA -- 5, 10-07 -- 19
Day 1: 5, 10-07

84. Boyd Duckett -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 10-06 -- 17
Day 1: 5, 10-06

84. Kevin Hawk -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 10-06 -- 17
Day 1: 5, 10-06

84. Chad Morgenthaler -- Coulterville, IL -- 5, 10-06 -- 17
Day 1: 5, 10-06

84. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 5, 10-06 -- 17
Day 1: 5, 10-06

88. Kelly Jordon -- Palestine, TX -- 5, 10-05 -- 13
Day 1: 5, 10-05

89. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, GA -- 5, 10-02 -- 12
Day 1: 5, 10-02

90. Chris Zaldain -- San Jose, CA -- 5, 10-01 -- 11
Day 1: 5, 10-01

91. Jeremy Starks -- Scott Depot, WV -- 5, 09-15 -- 10
Day 1: 5, 09-15

92. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 5, 09-14 -- 9
Day 1: 5, 09-14

92. David Smith -- Del City, OK -- 5, 09-14 -- 9
Day 1: 5, 09-14

94. Joel Baker -- Talala, OK -- 5, 09-11 -- 7
Day 1: 5, 09-11

95. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 4, 09-10 -- 6
Day 1: 4, 09-10

96. BJ Haseotes -- Centerville, MA -- 5, 09-08 -- 5
Day 1: 5, 09-08

97. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 5, 09-06 -- 4
Day 1: 5, 09-06

98. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 5, 09-01 -- 3
Day 1: 5, 09-01

99. Mike Kernan -- Wylie, TX -- 5, 09-00 -- 2
Day 1: 5, 09-00

100. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, SC -- 4, 08-09 -- 1
Day 1: 4, 08-09

101. Alton Jones -- Lorena, TX -- 4, 08-00 -- 0
Day 1: 4, 08-00

102. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, AL -- 4, 07-14 -- 0
Day 1: 4, 07-14

103. Pete Ponds -- Madison, MS -- 4, 07-13 -- 0
Day 1: 4, 07-13

104. Grant Goldbeck -- Boerne, TX -- 3, 06-14 -- 0
Day 1: 3, 06-14

105. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 3, 05-14 -- 0
Day 1: 3, 05-14

106. Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, MI -- 3, 05-12 -- 0
Day 1: 3, 05-12

107. Byron Velvick -- Boerne, TX -- 2, 04-08 -- 0
Day 1: 2, 04-08

108. Michael Simonton -- Fremont, OH -- 2, 03-13 -- 0
Day 1: 2, 03-13