Weights at the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa. are extremely tight. Jimmy Mize, the leader, weighed 6-02 yesterday, and less than 2 1/2 pounds separates the Top 10. Even those anglers who blanked
on day 1 are only 6 pounds back and conceivably still in contention.
The Classic is wide-open and there could be some big moves today. To help track strategy and mindset, here are some additional notes from those not included in yesterday's coverage.
15th: Swindle Aggravated
Even though Gerald Swindle's three fish kept him in the hunt with 3-08, he's disappointed, and aggravated.
"I lost way too many fish," he said. "My first bite was a 2-pounder. It jumped off. I lost two or three more keepers. You can't do that in a tournament like this. I can accept it, deal with it, but I'm still POd.
"It's aggravating to spend all that time and realize you should have had a limit on a tough fishery."
Will he change anything for day 2? "Hopefully my attitude. Hopefully my luck too. I stayed up in the Mon all day."
> He noted a lock problem, although it didn't affect him. "The lockmasters got into a physical fight with each other. There were a few FUs flying around."
16th: Stringer Feels Good
Bradley Stringer, winner of the 2004 Bassmaster Open Championship, caught four fish yesterday for 3-04. "I'm a little disappointed," he said. "I had the opportunity for five, but you know how that goes. My chance for a fifth keeper – the one I lost – came about 10 minutes before check-in. I swung it, it came off in the air, hit the boat and went back in the water."
He was "mad" after that, but otherwise felt pretty good about day 2. "I feel good. I have an early spot where I caught three keepers in 10 minutes (in the) morning. So I'm hoping that in the morning I'll at least get a couple of bites. Then I have a few more places to try."
He noted he caught all his fish with the same bait. "I'll do the same thing (on day 2), except I think I stayed on my spot too long yesterday, so I'll probably leave a little sooner to go do some cranking.
"It feels good to be here. I haven't gotten nervous about anything. To me, it seems just like another Tour event. Yes, I know how important it is, but you have to stay relaxed. You ever fished in the Black Forest on Rayburn when it's real good, and there's 50 boats around you? This is no different."
17th: Klein Having Fun
Gary Klein won the battle of the shorts yesterday. He caught 33 fish, and mixed in were three keepers that weighed 3-03. "I had a really good day on the water," he said. "I fished the way I planed on fishing, and I never lost a keeper. And you couldn't ask for a better day on the water. This river system's full of fish. It's a lot better fishery than I had anticipated."
He only had one day of practice – he was a late addition to the field after BASS ruled on a points controversy – and he's playing the numbers game. But he'll likely move today.
"I stayed in the Mon (Monongahela), and didn't go through any locks. I'll move to the Allegheny ('Gheny) and fish some of that water tomorrow too. I know I can catch a lot of fish where I am, and I usually catch multiple fish off the targets I'm fishing. If I get in the right little school, I can catch a limit pretty quick, but schools of keepers – I don't know whether they exist.
"I have a lack of experience in this general region," he added. "But as far as a river system, it's full of fish. If the fish I'm catching are only 2-year-old fish, then it's going to be one heck of a fishery in the future. I didn't catch an unhealty-looking fish. I lost a lot of 10- to 11 3/4-inch fish."
17th: Cochran Ran a Long Way
George Cochran's coming off a recent Forrest L. Wood Championship victory and his two-fish, 3-03 sack has him in the hunt here. He currently holds the record for the lowest Classic-winning weight (15-05, 1987), which he set on the Ohio River, but downstream.
"It was slow," he said. "I had three keeper bites and caught two of them. One was about 2 1/2 pounds and one was about a pound. The one I lost looked like it was over 2. They just weren't hitting it good."
He's one of the few who's around better fish, and he knows it. "I am and that's why I'm running a long ways. I only get about 3 1/2 hours to fish, and only got three bites, but I kind of figured something out. And I've narrowed it down to a few lures.
"I'm fishing the Mon," he added. "They got the locking times down, where you know you can get through at a certain time. Actually, where I'm going, I'm wasting about an hour locking both ways. I'll cut that a little closer (on day 2), chance it and stay a little longer."
20th: Rook Amazed
Scott Rook had three keepers for 2-15. "I should've had five because I had five keeper bites," he said. "I was actually amazed that I had five keeper bites."
That's partly because his best spot was being fished out when he got there. "I ran through the lock and caught an 11 3/4-inch Kentucky right off the bat. Then I ran to my first spot and a local was there whacking on it. I watched him bring a short one in, and then he said, 'They're here – come on in.' Then he makes another cast and hooks a good one. It took him a while to land it, and he leaned over the side and just unhooked it so I didn't see how big it was."
The spot is a discharge pipe that attracted shad. He fished it for a bit, but didn't catch any keepers there. In fact, he didn't catch any keepers until "late, like about 1:00." He fished a spot he had that another competitor also had and was protecting. When the other angler left, he went in and scooped up two keepers. Then the other angler came back and caught one, left and Rook caught another keeper.
About day 2, he said: "I'm just going to go fishing again."
21st: Jeff Hager (Federation)
Jeff Hager said the fishing "stunk. I had one (for 2-04), and one got off, another jumped and threw it and I had several bites I didn't hook."
He noted that the day was "a little tougher" than he expected. "The wind wasn't blowing like it was the practice day and that didn't help. And I just didn't execute too well today."
He plans on changing for day 2. "I fished today to win, and tomorrow I'll fish more like pre-practice."
Is he still having fun? "Man, yeah – what are you talking about? I'm in the Bassmaster Classic, I get to hang around with Davy Hite, Jay Yelas, all these guys – this is a blast."
> His one fish for 2-04 was the biggest one-fish weight of the day.
22nd: Morgenthaler Saving Something
"My day was about like everybody else's," Chad Morgenthaler said. He caught "a lot of short fish, and only two keepers" that weighed 2-03.
"I'm around better fish – I feel like I am," he noted. "In practice, the keepers I caught were over a pound and a half. I could catch four or five a day like that where I am on the Mon. They have everything they need in there. A little boat traffic hurt me – the fish went a little deeper than they had been."
He said he's fishing around Dave Wolak, Stringer and Edwin Evers. Mize and Tommy Biffle pulled in later, but he thinks Mize already had his fish at that point.
He added that he'll likely tweak his bait choice "a little" tomorrow. "I'll see if I can catch them a little faster than what I did today. This is anybody's game. Some guys will self-destruct tomorrow. I have one trump card left that I'm saving for the last day. It's one of those deals where it's good for one pass, and it's all the way at the other end from where I'm fishing."
23rd: Gutierrez Found Fish Late
California rookie Greg Gutierrez had five bites, but only two "little ones. It was a lot slower than I thought," he said. "I'm not quite sure why."
He found his keepers "later on in the afternoon," and thinks he should "do well if (he) can get back on that same thing."
> He's fishing the Mon and Allegheny rivers.
25th: Clausen Never Got On Anything
Washington's Luke Clausen, who won the tough FLW Tour Championship last year, boated only four fish, but two were keepers for 2-00. He didn't know how he would do because he hadn't fished his water since pre-practice.
"I fished pretty fast and caught a few, but I didn't figure anything out," he said. "I never really got onto anything at all.
"I might fish all new water (on day 2). I'll probably lock to a different pool I haven't been to yet."
26th: Wolak Blistered
Pennsylvania pro Dave Wolak, the 2005 BassFan.com Rookie of the Year, caught two fish for 1-13.
"I have a blister on my finger from casting all day and catching little ones," he said. "I probably caught 30 fish – no exaggeration – all shy of 12 inches except two legals. And I caught a couple exotics – a walleye, a pike. I'm getting bites every three casts, but they're all small."
He said he's fishing a jerkbait, then throwing back to followers. "I won't change (on day 2). I'll just fish hard again. I'm fishing up the Mon."
27th: Nixon's Shade Pattern Didn't Happen
"I had about four (keeper) fish attack me and only hooked one," said Larry Nixon who had 1-07 on the day. "The day before yesterday I really thought I could land 3 to 4 keepers with no problem. But (today I) couldn't get them to react right."
He fished the Mon, and noted that when he tried to run a smallmouth pattern on the way in, he "couldn't get a hit anywhere. I thought I was on a pretty good shade pattern on smallmouths and it just didn't happen."
He intends to fish the same areas on day 2, just "a little different."
Does he think he still has a shot? "Shoot yeah. If a guy can catch 5 to 6 pounds, I'll be right back in this. Some guys had limits today, and they'll have a real hard time duplicating them tomorrow. And I had enough fish around me that I know the fish are there."
Davy Hite fished a variety of baits on the Mon, but wasn't sure what he'd do on day 3.
27th: Wirth Lost Two
Kevin Wirth, an Ohio River expert, weighed one for 1-07.
"I had several bites, and lost two keepers," he said. "You couldn't swing on them, or you'd have nothing. One I swung on, I got him to the top and he came off.
"I don't know (about day 2). I'll probably adjust presentation-wise and water-wise."
He feels he's still in it. "My confidence is good. I can still win it. The most important thing was getting onboard. My favorite philosophy is you can't win the Classic on the first day, but you can sure lose it. I know we didn't lose it."
29th: Kriet Pushed Wrong Thing
Jeff Kriet's one fish, which he caught late, gave him 1-03. "I struggled bad," he said. "I caught one on the first cast, then went until 1:00 without another bite.
"I'll change (on day 2), absolutely," he added. "I pushed the wrong thing for probably 7 hours. I finally made a change at the end of the day and started getting some bites. I went and got in the current and got eight or nine bites in 20 minutes – three or four shorts and a nice keeper, plus another keeper I lost. So I'll change what I'm doing 100%."
30th: Hite Lost Three
Davy Hite weighed one bass for 1-02, but lost three. "I had them hooked and well on the way to the boat, but I bummed it up," he said. "You just can't do that here, and I knew it."
Aside from that, the day went according to plan. "I thought I might have the opportunity to catch four and did. I just didn't put them in the boat. I'm really happy with the amount of keeper bites I had. No excuse – I just didn't get it done."
He's fishing "a variety of baits" on the Mon, but was undecided about what he's going to do tomorrow. It was a toss-up between trying to do the same thing, and "just swinging for the fence and going fishing somewhere." But he thought he'd at least start in the same area since he did have the bites.
31st: Omori Learned Something
Defending Classic champion Takahiro Omori felt "media pressure" before blast-off, but that quickly faded as the fishing began. He caught one fish (1-01), and fished around Greg Hackney and Dean Rojas.
"I went to my largemouths first," he said. "They're bigger fish. I caught no largemouths. I never had a bite. Then I went to (my) backup smallmouths and caught one keeper."
He thinks he can mount a comeback and planned to start day 2 on smallmouths instead. "I'm kind of disappointed – two hours on my best stretch and I never had a bite. But I learned something new that will hopefully help me."
> He noted this is his fourth Classic, but yesterday was the first time BASS gave him a Japanese flag for his boat (each angler receives an American flag for their boat.)
Defending Classic champion Takahiro Omori started on largemouths yesterday and struggled.
32nd: Rojas Found Them Late
Dean Rojas weighed one keeper for 1 pound to tie with Chris Baumgardner, and said it was "a lot slower" than he thought it would be. "The fishing changed. It took me a little time to find them."
Once he did, he only had 15 minutes and he had to leave to head back for check-in. "I may have found something for (day 2)," he said. Speaking of day 2, he'll "just try and get close. If I can catch 4 to 5 keepers, I think I have a good shot. I think it can put me right back in."
34th: Stone Predicts Comeback
Marty Stone's one fish weighed 15 ounces, but he was upbeat. "My day was sort of poor," he said. "I didn't think I'd smoke them, but I had an area I thought had the potential for three to five keeper bites. I only got one keeper bite, and I caught it. I obviously misjudged my water."
He pledged to change his water, and his philosophy on day 2. "And I'll make a minor change in baits. I won't be too patient tomorrow. There will be a comeback."
35th: Ed Cowan (Federation)
Federation champ and local Ed Cowan predicted he would win the Classic if no one else got on his fish. Well, it's not over 'til it's over, but he managed only one peanut for 0-13. "That's why it's called fishing, not catching," he said. What about that prediction? "I got on TV (for saying that), didn't I (laughs)? I tell the people what they want to hear."
He said he didn't know exactly why he had such a bad day, but had an idea: "I fished my whole day backwards," he said. So on day 2 he'll reverse it, and doesn't think he's out of it yet. "I think there's quality fish where I'm fishing."
> He's fishing for largemouths on the Allegheny.
35th: Shuffield Fished 'Gheny
Ron Shuffield caught "five or six" fish, but only one keeper that weighed 13 ounces. He also caught two catfish and a saugeye.
"I'm not really disappointed," he said. "It's just tough fishing. I went to the Allegheny, and the water's a little stained. But it was a bluebird day and the boat traffic was just out of this world. It was part spectators, part pleasure-boaters, but these are little, narrow rivers and it makes it tough to fish."
He mostly fished a buzzbait, but caught his keeper on a worm.
"This is the toughest Classic I've ever fished, no question about it," he added. However, he knows there are a few big fish in the system. "At the Kids Classic, one of my boys caught a 5-04. It was a fluke. It was the biggest fish they'd ever seen weighed in up there."
38th: Crews Disappointed
Virginia tour pro and Classic rookie John Crews was part of the donut crew today. He said he had five bites, and caught "some minnows that are going to be bass when they grow up."
His first 4 hours were "dead. I never got a bite." That was on the Allegheny, which laid an egg for everybody today. "Then I left out of there and started catching fish," he said.
"I'm still not out of making the (Top 25) cut. And as long as you make the cut, you could win this tournament.
"I'll be fishing the Mon tomorrow," he added. "I didn't lock today, but I'll probably lock tomorrow."
His attitude is "all right. I'm disappointed, but if I let it get me down, then I'll be defeated so I have to stay positive."
38th: Snowden's Unlucky 13
Missouri's Brian Snowden caught 13 shorts today, broke off one keeper and lost another. Not a great day.
"I think the fish have moved a little bit, and it's hard to find them in a day," he said. He locked down to the Ohio pool on the Ohio River. "I thought I could catch some bigger ones down there, but it didn't work out."
Like Crews, he's heading to the more-fish Mon tomorrow. "I still think it's pretty much anyone's ballgame," he said. You never know. You might catch a 3-pounder, and wouldn't that go a long way."