By BassFan Staff

Bryan Thrift takes an extremely low-key approach to the annual FLW Tour shindig at Arkansas' Beaver Lake.

"I don't worry about anything at Beaver," he said. "I just go fishing and see what happens. It seems like the more you worry, the more frustrated you get and the worse you do."

Thrift, who won last month's Tour derby at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas, picked up right where he left off on day 1 at Beaver as he weighed a 16-02 stringer that topped the field. He prevailed on this venue in 2011 for his most recent Tour victory prior to Rayburn.

He has a 13-ounce edge over Spencer Shuffield, who boxed 15-05. Shuffield's finishes have gotten progressively better this season after he began with a 106th-place stinker at Lake Okeechobee.

Two-tour pro Steve Kennedy, who logged a 6th at Rayburn, has his sights set on another single-digit finish – his 14-15 bag landed him in 3rd. Next with 14-12 is rookie Eric Olliverson of Missouri, whose three placements this year have all been 114th or lower.

Casey Ashley, another two-tour pro and the winner at Lake Hartwell earlier this season, completed theTop 5 with 14-10.

Here's how the initial Top 10 stacks up, with red numbers indicating deficit margins from the leader:

1. Bryan Thrift: 16-02
2. Spencer Shuffield: 15-05 (0-13)
3. Steve Kennedy: 14-15 (1-03)
4. Eric Olliverson: 14-12 (1-06)
5. (tie) Casey Ashley: 14-10 (1-08)
5. (tie) Adrian Avena: 14-10 (1-08)
7. Gary Yamamoto: 14-09 (1-09)
8. (tie) Jason Christie: 14-07 (1-11)
8. (tie) Jonathan Newton: 14-07 (1-11)
10. John Voyles: 14-04 (1-14)

The south wind was more fierce than anticipated (in excess of 20 mph), which aided some competitors while hurting others. It definitely helped the shallow reaction-bait bite, but hindered some anglers who'd planned to work offshore or had quality bed-fish marked.

Overall weights were a little higher than most had predicted as the Top 64 all weighed at least 10 pounds. At least half the field still has a reasonable chance of making the first cut with a mid-teens sack on day 2.

FLW/Kyle Wood
Photo: FLW/Kyle Wood

A 4-pound largemouth in the final hour propelled Spencer Shuffield into 2nd place.

Tomorrow's forecast again calls for partly cloudy skies, but the wind should lighten up considerably. The air temperature will top out in the mid-70s.

The field will be reduced to the Top 20 following the weigh-in, with only the Top 10 moving on to the final day. The winner will be determined Sunday based on cumulative weight.

Thrift not Dialed In

> Day 1: 5, 16-02

Thrift said today's sack was not the result of anything he uncovered earlier in the week.

"I didn't have that good of a practice – one day I caught about 10 pounds and the other two were miserable," he said. "I really wasn't on anything today, I just got some good bites. That's Beaver, though; I never know where I'm going to catch one or when or anything."

His bag consisted of a largemouth that weighed nearly 5 pounds, along with three smallmouths and a spot. He revealed that most were enticed by a Damiki Finesse Miki fished on a shaky-head tied to 6-pound fluorocarbon.

"It was just a special day on Beaver – I got five quality bites and I got all of them in. I think the wind helped a little; I think in that clear water, it helps you get a few more bites."

2nd: Shuffield Confident

> Day 1: 5, 15-05

Unlike Thrift, Shuffield believes he's on a strong pattern.

"It was a good day, and to be honest, I expect it to continue," he said. "I've definitely got them coming to me."

He's fishing in his home state on a venue where he's had a modicum of success in the past. He's sticking with places and techniques that have produced on previous visits.

"It's the same thing I do here every time. On my second cast on the first day of practice I caught a smallmouth that was nearly 4 pounds from one of my favorite stretches I like to start on. I'd try it each day and catch a good one until finally I just quit doing it.

"I had 12 1/2 or 13 pounds by 9:30 today and then I went practicing in places I'd never fished in my life and culled twice. Then about 45 minutes before weigh-in, I got a 4-pound largemouth."

He has little concern as to whether or not the wind blows on day 2.

"I think I can still catch them early either way. That's what screwed me last year – I had almost 16 pounds the first day, then the next day I only had 10 pounds when they didn't want to come and get the reaction baits.

"This year I practiced for that and I'll go to it if I have to."

3rd: Kennedy Caught Early Kicker

Kennedy caught a 4-10 largemouth in the first half-hour, then went 3 1/2 hours before boating his second keeper. He eventually brought four largemouths and a spotted bass to the scale.

"I had a couple key bites (in practice) that put me on something, but I did not expect to catch a bag like that," he said. "I was hoping for 10 or 12 pounds. That big one wasn't 10 feet away from where I shook one off in practice and I went straight to it today. It was probably the same fish.

"Fishing (last week's Table Rock Bassmaster Elite Series) really helped me down here. On a windy day like this, I probably would've stayed with the swimbait all day and got burned by it. That experience forced me to keep a bait down in the water column a little and just take what I could get."

His traditional strategy at Ozarks lakes has been to make long runs, but he's disdaining those this year and it's paying off so far (he cashed a $10,000 check from Table Rock for a 36th-place showing).

"Normally I'm running way up the river and catching 50 fish for three keepers, so I've been looking to change things. I'm trying to stay close to the ramp, in the mid-lake area, and just fish. When I get a bite, it's more likely to be a keeper. It worked out pretty good today."

It'll be fine with him if the wind tapers off for day 2.

"Some wind seems to be a good thing, but I don't need that much. This time of year, what these fish want is that sun."

5th: Ashley Thankful for Wind

> Day 1: 5, 14-10

Ashley didn't find a lot of quality fish in practice on his first-ever visit to Beaver, but he located some today as the wind boosted the moving-bait bite.

"I had a rough practice, so today I just went out and went fishing," he said. "With it blowing that hard, it was a lot easier to catch them and it helped me find a few areas that have got some fish in them."

He weighed in three spots and two largemouths, but none were over 3 1/2 pounds. He caught fih on a swimbait, a Wiggle Wart and a shaky-head.

"I really don't know much of anything about this lake, but to me it seems to fish like a big farm pond," he said. "You can catch them one day, then they're gone the next. You just have to go with the conditions and take whatever the weather deals you.

"I know I found two areas where I'm going to spend a good bit of time tomorrow. I didn't get a lot of bites, but the ones I got were good ones."

167th: Cox Confounded

> Day 1: 2, 2-03

John Cox turned in 5th-place finishes in each of the last two events. Barring a miracle, he won't make it three in a row.

He brought a pair of barely legal keepers to the scale today.

"I was fishing by myself (with no other competitors around) at first, and I started to think that wasn't good," he said. "Then I started fishing the same stuff everybody else was and other guys were shellacking them, but I still couldn't catch them.

"I had a horrible practice, too. I haven't gotten anything clicking at all."

Naturally, he's uncertain about what to do on day 2.

"Before I came here I told myself I'd just flip a jig up the river and I haven't done much of that. Also, I've never seen the upper end of the lake by the dam, so I might go that way.

"Hopefully it'll hit me tonight and I'll go out tomorrow and make it happen."

Notable

> Day 1 stats – 173 anglers, 115 limits, 22 fours, 17 threes, 12 twos, 5 ones, 2 zeroes.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., April 11 – Partly Cloudy – 74°/56°
- Wind: From the SSE at 8 mph

> Sat., April 12 – A.M. Clouds/P.M. Sun – 77°/59°
- Wind: From the S at 19 mph

> Sun., April 13 – T-Storms – 65°/42°
- Wind: From the S at 16 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 16-02 (5)

2. Spencer Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ar -- 15-05 (5)

3. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, Al -- 14-15 (5)

4. Eric Olliverson -- Lampe, Mo -- 14-12 (5)

5. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 14-10 (5)

5. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, NJ -- 14-10 (5)

7. Gary Yamamoto -- Palestine, Tx -- 14-09 (5)

8. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, Ok -- 14-07 (5)

8. Jonathan Newton -- Rogersville, Al -- 14-07 (5)

10. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 14-04 (5)

11. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, Ga -- 14-03 (5)

11. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 14-03 (5)

13. Travis Fox -- Rogers, Ar -- 14-01 (5)

14. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 13-13 (5)

15. Charlie Ingram -- Centerville, Tn -- 13-06 (5)

15. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, Tn -- 13-06 (5)

17. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 13-03 (5)

18. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 13-00 (5)

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

20. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 12-12 (5)

21. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 12-11 (5)

22. Randy Blaukat -- Joplin, Mo -- 12-04 (5)

23. Nick Prvonozac -- Warren, Oh -- 12-02 (5)

23. Alton Wilhoit -- Harrah, Ok -- 12-02 (5)

25. Jacob Wheeler -- Indianapolis, In -- 12-01 (5)

26. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 12-00 (5)

26. Kevin Stewart -- Elk Grove, Ca -- 12-00 (5)

28. Terry Segraves -- Kissimmee, Fl -- 11-14 (5)

29. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, SC -- 11-13 (5)

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

31. Blake Nick -- Adger, Al -- 11-12 (5)

32. Jason Lambert -- Pickwick Dam, Tn -- 11-10 (5)

33. Brandon Hunter -- Benton, Ky -- 11-09 (5)

34. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, Ca -- 11-08 (5)

34. Ray Scheide -- Dover, Ar -- 11-08 (5)

36. Stacey King -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 11-07 (5)

37. Jim Dillard -- West Monroe, La -- 11-06 (5)

38. Troy Hollowell -- Paducah, Ky -- 11-05 (5)

39. Robbie Dodson -- Harrison, Ar -- 11-04 (5)

39. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 11-04 (5)

41. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, Tn -- 11-03 (5)

41. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 11-03 (5)

43. Chris Baumgardner -- Gastonia, NC -- 11-02 (5)

43. Rich Dalbey -- Greenville, Tx -- 11-02 (5)

45. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ar -- 11-01 (5)

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

47. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 10-14 (5)

48. Andrew Luxon -- Richmond, Ky -- 10-13 (4)

49. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, Ar -- 10-12 (5)

49. Randy Haynes -- Counce, Tn -- 10-12 (5)

51. Marc Evans -- Angola, In -- 10-10 (5)

52. Keith Amerson -- Bethel Springs, Tn -- 10-09 (5)

53. James Watson -- Waynesville, Mo -- 10-08 (5)

54. John Devere -- Berea, Ky -- 10-07 (5)

54. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, La -- 10-07 (5)

56. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, Fl -- 10-06 (5)

56. Tommy Martin -- Hemphill, Tx -- 10-06 (5)

56. Richard Peek -- Centre, Al -- 10-06 (5)

56. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, Ok -- 10-06 (5)

56. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 10-06 (3)

61. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Tx -- 10-04 (5)

62. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 10-03 (5)

63. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky -- 10-02 (5)

63. Jeff Sprague -- Point, Tx -- 10-02 (5)

65. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 9-14 (5)

65. Dion Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 9-14 (5)

67. Jimmy Brewer -- Marshall, Tx -- 9-12 (5)

67. Vic Vatalaro -- Kent, Oh -- 9-12 (5)

69. Charlie Evans -- Gilbertsville, Ky -- 9-11 (4)

69. Brad Knight -- Wartburg, Tn -- 9-11 (5)

71. Clayton Batts -- Macon, Ga -- 9-10 (5)

72. Stuart Arthur -- Benton, Mo -- 9-09 (5)

72. Luke Clausen -- Spokane, Wa -- 9-09 (5)

72. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 9-09 (5)

75. Shane Lehew -- Charlotte, NC -- 9-08 (5)

76. Michael Neal -- Dayton, Tn -- 9-06 (5)

77. George Kapiton -- Inverness, Fl -- 9-05 (4)

78. Lionel Botha -- Okeechobee, Fl -- 9-04 (5)

79. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 9-02 (5)

80. Shinichi Fukae -- Palestine, Tx -- 9-01 (5)

81. Ryan Davidson -- Huntington, WV -- 8-15 (5)

81. Todd Hollowell -- Fishers, In -- 8-15 (5)

83. Tony Davis -- Williston, Fl -- 8-13 (4)

83. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 8-13 (5)

83. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 8-13 (3)

86. Ramie Colson Jr -- Cadiz, Ky -- 8-10 (5)

86. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, Az -- 8-10 (5)

86. Philip Jarabeck -- Lynchburg, Va -- 8-10 (5)

89. JT Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 8-08 (5)

90. Greg Bohannan -- Rogers, Ar -- 8-07 (5)

90. Skip Johnson -- Goodells, Mi -- 8-07 (4)

92. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 8-06 (4)

93. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 8-05 (5)

94. Casey Martin -- New Hope, Al -- 8-01 (5)

94. John Murray -- Phoenix, Az -- 8-01 (5)

94. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 8-01 (3)

97. Kelly Power -- Cape Fair, Mo -- 8-00 (5)

98. Cody Bird -- Granbury, Tx -- 7-14 (5)

98. Chris Neau -- New Orleans, La -- 7-14 (5)

100. Nick Gainey -- Charleston, SC -- 7-13 (5)

100. Tim Malone -- Gatlinburg, Tn -- 7-13 (5)

102. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 7-09 (5)

103. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, Pa -- 7-08 (5)

104. Scott Suggs -- Bryant, Ar -- 7-07 (5)

105. Terry Bolton -- Paducah, Ky -- 7-05 (4)

106. Randall Tharp -- Port Saint Joe, Fl -- 7-03 (5)

107. Barton Aiken -- Greenville, SC -- 7-02 (4)

107. Koby Kreiger -- Bokeelia, Fl -- 7-02 (5)

107. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 7-02 (5)

110. Troy Gibson -- Eufaula, Al -- 7-00 (5)

110. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 7-00 (5)

110. Leon Williams -- Fairdale, Ky -- 7-00 (5)

113. Austin Terry -- San Angelo, Tx -- 6-15 (4)

114. Richard Lowitzki -- Hampshire, Il -- 6-14 (5)

114. Drew Montgomery -- Denver, NC -- 6-14 (5)

116. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 6-13 (5)

116. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 6-13 (4)

118. Shad Schenck -- Waynetown, In -- 6-11 (4)

118. David Smith -- Del City, Ok -- 6-11 (3)

120. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 6-09 (5)

120. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 6-09 (3)

122. Mark Daniels Jr -- Fairfield, Ca -- 6-08 (5)

123. Justin Morton -- Etoile, Tx -- 6-07 (5)

124. Brent Long -- Iron Station, NC -- 6-05 (5)

124. Bob Morin -- Seymour, Tn -- 6-05 (5)

126. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 6-04 (5)

126. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 6-04 (4)

128. Jay Yelas -- Corvallis, Or -- 6-02 (5)

129. Payden Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 6-01 (4)

130. Ray Meredith -- Smiths Grove, Ky -- 5-15 (5)

131. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 5-14 (4)

131. Glenn Chappelear -- Acworth, Ga -- 5-14 (4)

133. Zach Caudle -- Shreveport, La -- 5-12 (2)

134. Drew Benton -- Panama City, Fl -- 5-11 (4)

134. Robert Pearson -- Herndon, Va -- 5-11 (5)

136. Peter Thliveros -- Saint Augustine, Fl -- 5-10 (3)

137. Bill McDonald -- Greenwood, In -- 5-09 (4)

137. Shawn Murphy -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 5-09 (3)

139. Jayme Rampey -- Liberty, SC -- 5-08 (3)

140. Patrick Bone -- Cleveland, Ga -- 5-04 (3)

141. Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 5-02 (4)

141. Jason Quinn -- Rock Hill, SC -- 5-02 (4)

143. James Christian -- Dickson, Tn -- 5-01 (4)

143. Wade Leblanc -- Gonzales, La -- 5-01 (5)

143. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 5-01 (5)

143. Rodney Thomason -- Maumelle, Ar -- 5-01 (4)

147. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, Al -- 5-00 (3)

148. RC Cooper -- Nashua, Nh -- 4-14 (3)

149. Robert Collins -- Morrow, Oh -- 4-13 (4)

150. Travis Loyd -- Kinmundy, Il -- 4-11 (3)

151. Ryan Chandler -- Valparaiso, In -- 4-10 (2)

151. Bill Day -- Frankfort, Ky -- 4-10 (3)

153. Chris Heath -- North Augusta, SC -- 4-03 (3)

154. Jeff Barth -- Marshfield, Wi -- 4-02 (3)

155. Michael Wooley -- Collierville, Tn -- 3-13 (2)

156. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 3-09 (2)

156. Clark Reehm -- Huntington, Tx -- 3-09 (3)

158. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 3-08 (1)

159. Dustin Grice -- Hewitt, Tx -- 3-07 (3)

159. Tommy Robinson -- Westland, Mi -- 3-07 (2)

161. Stephen McKinnie -- Umatila, Fl -- 3-05 (2)

162. Shirley Crain -- Fort Smith, Ar -- 3-00 (2)

163. Tony Dumitras -- Wnston, Ga -- 2-15 (2)

164. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 2-11 (2)

165. Guido Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 2-07 (2)

166. Darrell Davis -- Dover, Fl -- 2-05 (2)

167. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 2-03 (1)

167. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 2-03 (2)

169. Kyle White -- Tightwad, Mo -- 1-09 (1)

170. Jerry Reagan -- Byrdstown, Tn -- 1-03 (1)

171. Harry Moore -- Valley, Al -- 1-01 (1)

Rick Cotten -- Guntersville, Al -- 0-00 (0)

Jason Meninger -- Gainesville, Ga -- 0-00 (0)

Big Bass

Day 1: Scott Wiley -- 6-15 -- $500