By B.A.S.S. Communications Staff

EUFAULA, Okla. — It’s a big lake, but Jim Moynagh committed to what he believed was the region with the greatest potential and caught a five-bass limit of 19 pounds, 5 ounces to lead Day 1 of the Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula.

The seasoned pro from Remer, Minn., said he took his best shot and paid close attention to the response from the bass. Doing so gave Moynagh a lead of 1-4 over Andrew Loberg.

“Practice was pretty sporadic and pretty sparse, so I went with what I thought would give me the best chance to catch a 5-pounder,” Moynagh said. “Things just started to develop and each bite became a feel for what I needed to do today.

“Every bite’s a clue and when you run into the right size fish, that (confirms your belief.)”

On a day when high heat and falling water presented tough fishing conditions, Moynagh was understandably guarded with his details. Noting that he stayed in one of the lake’s main basins, Moynagh said he fished a variety of habitat features, but none yielded much consistency.

“I caught eight keepers today and it was one here, one there,” Moynagh said. “I didn’t catch two on any one location.”

As Moynagh explained, the limited success he found in practice proved helpful — but more as a deterrent than encouragement.

“So much of practice I spent not catching anything, so I knew a lot of what not to do,” Moynagh said. “So, I kinda went with how I caught one that was about 5 pounds in practice. I didn’t catch many in practice. When I tried that pattern, I didn’t do that great, but I caught that one 5-pounder.

“Today, I went with that pattern, got a bite. A little while later, I got another bite. I was ecstatic because they were decent fish.”

With nearly a 4-pound average, Moynagh said his day exceeded his expectations.

“Realistically, I was hoping I could get 10 pounds each day,” he said. “On my best days of practice, one day I had 12 pounds, one day I had 10.

“Both of those days were in different basins. Today, I almost went to the basin where I had more bites in practice. I went to where I had fewer bites, but that’s where I caught the 5-pounder. I guess that was a good decision.”

Moynagh said two unspecified baits produced his weight. He had his limit around 10:30 a.m. and made his last cull with 90 minutes left in his fishing day.

“If I can just get five keepers tomorrow, it should be a decent amount of weight,” Moynagh said.

Hailing from Grant, Ala., Loberg is in second place with 18-1. Knowing he’d be facing a challenging scenario, he committed to a game plan based on diligence and probability.

“I just picked a few different spots and a handful of baits and really just ground away,” he said. “I was just keeping my lines wet.

“When the lake’s not fishing very good, you want to run around and hopefully find a better spot. But, in reality, you have to stay where you’re at and pick everything apart.”

Loberg anchored his bag with a 6-6. Despite seeing Eufaula’s potential during the days leading up to the tournament, he said his Day 1 kicker proved pleasantly surprising.

“I know there are big ones in this lake and I was lucky to catch a couple of them in practice,” Loberg said. “It was one of those deals where if you’re in the right area at the right time, you might get a good bite.

“There was definitely a lot of boats running around in my area and the pressure definitely got to them. But they live there.”

Easton Fothergill, a native of Grand Rapids, Minn., and a veteran of the powerhouse fishing team at the University of Montevallo (Ala.), is in third place with 17-12. Taking off in the 12th of 14 flights, Fothergill enjoyed the rare gift of fishing in nearly complete solitude.

“I was expecting a lot of boats in my area and I actually fished alone most of the day, which was super surprising to me,” Fothergill said. “I was boat 161 today and when I got to my spot, there was no one there.”

Fothergill said his area had five main spots. Rotating through his spots kept him in the action.

Using a single slow-moving bait, Fothergill said his productivity started quickly.

“I caught a 4-pounder in the first five minutes I was there, so that was a super-good start,” he said. “Tomorrow’s a different day. I just have to go out and work on them and see how we do.”

Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6 a.m. CT at Nichols Point. The weigh-in will be held in the same location at 2 p.m.

Here's a look at the initial Top 10:

1. Jim Moynagh: 19-05
2. Andrew Loberg: 18-01
3. Easton Fothergill: 17-12
4. Matt Adams: 17-09
5. Trey Swindle: 17-02
6. Cody Meyer: 17-01
7. (tie) Sean Clayton: 16-11
7. (tie) John Soukup: 16-11
9. Justin Phillips: 16-03
10. Ty Faber: 15-11

For complete results, click here.