By B.A.S.S. Communications Staff

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. Expectations did not match reality for Bernie Schultz, but the veteran Florida pro was delighted with a surprising day that yielded a five-bass limit of 28 pounds, 11 ounces, which leads Day 1 of the Bassmaster Elite Series 2023 opener at Lake Okeechobee.

Hailing from Gainesville, Fla., Schultz anchored his bag with an 8-10 that leads the Big Bass standings. He heads into Day 2 with a 3-pound lead over local favorite Scott Martin.

It was a remarkable day; I didnt expect to catch that, Schultz said. I thought Id get one if I was lucky maybe two big bites, but I got four big bites.

Schultz caught his bass in two main sections of one general area that he found prior to the off-limits period. With depths of about 3 feet, the area held a mix of vegetation a key ingredient, given the lakes present condition.

High water has altered many of the traditional spawning areas, while herbicide treatments have dramatically reduced the hydrilla and eelgrass that once covered vast acreage. The area Schultz fished had a mix of these submerged aquatic plants, along with dollar pads, bulrush and cattails.

I knew this area was going to be good because the vegetation is very healthy; thats really a rare thing in this lake these days, Schultz said. The lake has shrunk because of habitat loss. Places that were once lush and healthy are barren right now.

Theres not a lot of filtration in places that were historically really productive this time of year because the fish arent using them.

Schultz caught all of his fish on a 5-inch Yamamoto Senko. Hes using two rigging styles one for open-water presentations and one for tighter spots amid vegetation.

Im fishing slow because Im in an area where theres a lot of pressure, he said. I got my first big bite pretty early. I had a limit early, but it took a pretty good while to get the second big bite. That was the 8-10.

I moved areas and caught another 8-pounder and one that was about 6.

Schultz noted that, while the first half of his day produced more numbers of fish, the latter half yielded the biggest bites.

I think the afternoons are better once you get that water temperature up, Schultz said.

Tournament practice saw colder and mostly windy conditions whipping the lake and limiting the opportunity level.

The first day of practice it was blowing like crazy throughout the day and it was just hard to fish, Schultz said. I was getting bit on moving baits but I never had a big bite.

I had one 4-pounder, and I think that really tipped me off that Im in a good area.

Schultz said he will return to his area on Day 2. Hes confident he left plenty of bass there, but hes unsure of how the overall fishing pressure will affect it.

I dont know whats left (in my area); there were a lot of other boats there so well have to see what happens, Schultz said. Im trying to out-fish guys that are really good.

Hailing from Clewiston, Fla., Martin admits that home-field advantage is often overstated, but his lifetime of local knowledge served him well by delivering a second-place limit of 25-11. Fishing the lakes south end, Martin spent his day in a tucked-away area that he had all to himself.

I prepared for this week, but I didnt find a whole lot, Martin said. A couple of things gave me some clues as to what might happen. I kind of went with my gut this morning and it paid off big time.

We have, maybe, three more days of fishing out here, so I may have to make adjustments throughout the week.

Martin caught most of his fish with a prop bait. A slow, methodical presentation proved most effective for provoking fish that were becoming increasingly active with the weeks warming trend.

Martin also caught keepers by flipping shallow vegetation with a Texas-rigged Googan Squad Bandito Bug.

Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La., is in third place with 24-05. Clearly enthusiastic about not only his Day 1 performance but also his upcoming prospects, Rivet credited his success to making good adjustments.

I was doing what I like to do, flipping an Xcite Baits Sucka Punch and throwing a ChatterBait and a few secret deals that I found would work, Rivet said. Theres a ton of fish the way Im catching them, so I think I can go out there tomorrow and catch them.

I havent had this feeling for a tournament in a while, and I think it can happen for this one. There are a few people in my area, but what theyre throwing and what Im throwing are different. Hopefully, it can stay that way.

Fridays takeoff is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. ET at C. Scott Driver Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3:30 p.m. Only the Top 50 anglers will advance to Semifinal Saturday. Bassmaster LIVE coverage begins at 8 a.m. on Bassmaster.com, Tubi and the FOX Sports platforms.



Day 1 Standings

1. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 28-11 -- 100 -- $1,000.00
Day 1: 5, 28-11

2. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, FL -- 5, 25-11 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 25-11

3. Tyler Rivet -- Raceland, LA -- 5, 24-05 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 24-05

4. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 23-08 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 23-08

5. Drew Cook -- Cairo, GA -- 5, 22-12 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 22-12

6. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 5, 22-09 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 22-09

7. Will Davis Jr -- Sylacauga, AL -- 5, 21-07 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 21-07

8. Patrick Walters -- Eutawville, SC -- 5, 21-05 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 21-05

9. Cooper Gallant Bowmanville, ON -- 5, 21-03 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 21-03

10. Marc Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 5, 21-00 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 21-00

11. Ed Loughran III -- Richmond, VA -- 5, 20-03 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 20-03

12. Michael Iaconelli -- Pittsgrove, NJ -- 5, 19-10 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 19-10

13. Brandon Palaniuk -- Rathdrum, ID -- 5, 19-03 -- 88
Day 1: 5, 19-03

14. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 5, 18-12 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 18-12

15. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, TX -- 5, 18-09 -- 86
Day 1: 5, 18-09

16. Kyle Welcher -- Opelika, AL -- 5, 18-08 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 18-08

17. Bob Downey -- Detroit Lakes, MN -- 5, 18-05 -- 84
Day 1: 5, 18-05

18. Jay Przekurat -- Stevens Point, WI -- 5, 18-01 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 18-01

19. Josh Douglas -- Isle, MN -- 5, 17-13 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 17-13

19. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 17-13 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 17-13

21. Jeff Gustafson -- Kenora, ON -- 5, 17-07 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 17-07

21. Gerald Swindle -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 17-07 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 17-07

23. Chris Johnston Otonabee, ON -- 5, 17-06 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 17-06

23. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 5, 17-06 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 17-06

25. John Cox -- DeBary, FL -- 5, 17-05 -- 76
Day 1: 5, 17-05

26. Cody Huff -- Ava, MO -- 5, 17-03 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 17-03

27. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 5, 17-02 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 17-02

28. David Gaston -- Sylacauga, AL -- 5, 17-01 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 17-01

28. Logan Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 17-01 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 17-01

30. Buddy Gross -- Chattanooga, TN -- 5, 16-15 -- 71
Day 1: 5, 16-15

31. Shane LeHew -- Catawba, NC -- 5, 16-13 -- 70
Day 1: 5, 16-13

32. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 5, 16-12 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 16-12

32. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 5, 16-12 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 16-12

34. Skylar Hamilton -- Jefferson, TN -- 5, 16-10 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 16-10

35. Pat Schlapper -- Eleva, WI -- 5, 16-09 -- 66
Day 1: 5, 16-09

36. Brandon Card -- Salisbury, NC -- 5, 16-01 -- 65
Day 1: 5, 16-01

36. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 5, 16-01 -- 65
Day 1: 5, 16-01

38. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 5, 15-15 -- 63
Day 1: 5, 15-15

39. Bryan New -- Saluda, SC -- 5, 15-14 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 15-14

40. Justin Atkins -- Florence, AL -- 5, 15-06 -- 61
Day 1: 5, 15-06

40. Joey Cifuentes III -- Clinton, AR -- 5, 15-06 -- 61
Day 1: 5, 15-06

40. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 5, 15-06 -- 61
Day 1: 5, 15-06

43. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 5, 15-05 -- 58
Day 1: 5, 15-05

43. Lee Livesay -- Longview, TX -- 5, 15-05 -- 58
Day 1: 5, 15-05

45. Gary Clouse -- Winchester, TN -- 5, 15-04 -- 56
Day 1: 5, 15-04

46. Jake Whitaker -- Hendersonville, NC -- 5, 15-03 -- 55
Day 1: 5, 15-03

47. Caleb Kuphall -- Mukwonago, WI -- 5, 15-00 -- 54
Day 1: 5, 15-00

47. Luke Palmer -- Coalgate, OK -- 5, 15-00 -- 54
Day 1: 5, 15-00

49. Kyoya Fujita -- Minamitsuru, JAPAN-- 5, 14-15 -- 52
Day 1: 5, 14-15

49. Darold Gleason -- Many, LA -- 5, 14-15 -- 52
Day 1: 5, 14-15

51. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 5, 14-13 -- 50
Day 1: 5, 14-13

52. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 5, 14-09 -- 49
Day 1: 5, 14-09

53. Jamie Hartman -- Newport, NY -- 5, 14-07 -- 48
Day 1: 5, 14-07

54. Bradley Hallman -- Edmond, OK -- 5, 14-06 -- 47
Day 1: 5, 14-06

55. Jonathan Kelley -- Old Forge, PA -- 5, 14-04 -- 46
Day 1: 5, 14-04

55. Brad Whatley -- Bivins, TX -- 5, 14-04 -- 46
Day 1: 5, 14-04

57. Gregory DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 5, 14-03 -- 44
Day 1: 5, 14-03

58. Kyle Norsetter -- Cottage Grove, WI -- 5, 14-01 -- 43
Day 1: 5, 14-01

59. KJ Queen -- Conover, NC -- 5, 13-14 -- 42
Day 1: 5, 13-14

60. Justin Hamner -- Northport, AL -- 5, 13-09 -- 41
Day 1: 5, 13-09

61. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 13-06 -- 40
Day 1: 5, 13-06

62. Jason Christie -- Dry Creek, OK -- 5, 13-05 -- 39
Day 1: 5, 13-05

62. Frank Talley -- Temple, TX -- 5, 13-05 -- 39
Day 1: 5, 13-05

64. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 5, 13-02 -- 37
Day 1: 5, 13-02

65. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 5, 13-00 -- 36
Day 1: 5, 13-00

65. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 5, 13-00 -- 36
Day 1: 5, 13-00

67. Jacob Foutz -- Charleston, TN -- 5, 12-15 -- 34
Day 1: 5, 12-15

68. Carl Jocumsen Queensland, AUS -- 5, 12-14 -- 33
Day 1: 5, 12-14

68. Wes Logan -- Springville, AL -- 5, 12-14 -- 33
Day 1: 5, 12-14

70. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, MD -- 5, 12-12 -- 31
Day 1: 5, 12-12

71. Hunter Shryock -- Ooltewah, TN -- 5, 12-11 -- 30
Day 1: 5, 12-11

72. Jason Williamson -- Aiken, SC -- 5, 12-09 -- 29
Day 1: 5, 12-09

73. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 5, 12-06 -- 28
Day 1: 5, 12-06

73. Koby Kreiger -- Alva, FL -- 5, 12-06 -- 28
Day 1: 5, 12-06

73. Bryant Smith -- Roseville, CA -- 5, 12-06 -- 28
Day 1: 5, 12-06

76. Matty Wong -- Honolulu, HI -- 5, 12-04 -- 25
Day 1: 5, 12-04

77. Derek Hudnall -- Zachary, LA -- 5, 12-02 -- 24
Day 1: 5, 12-02

78. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 5, 12-00 -- 23
Day 1: 5, 12-00

79. Chad Pipkens -- DeWitt, MI -- 5, 11-11 -- 22
Day 1: 5, 11-11

80. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 11-09 -- 21
Day 1: 5, 11-09

81. Kenta Kimura Osaka, JAPAN -- 5, 11-08 -- 20
Day 1: 5, 11-08

82. Mike Huff -- London, KY -- 5, 11-07 -- 19
Day 1: 5, 11-07

83. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 5, 11-04 -- 18
Day 1: 5, 11-04

84. Seth Feider -- New Market, MN -- 5, 11-01 -- 17
Day 1: 5, 11-01

85. Jacob Powroznik -- North Prince George, VA -- 5, 10-15 -- 16
Day 1: 5, 10-15

86. Joseph Webster -- Hamilton, AL -- 5, 10-11 -- 15
Day 1: 5, 10-11

87. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 5, 10-08 -- 14
Day 1: 5, 10-08

88. Clent Davis -- Montevallo, AL -- 5, 10-04 -- 13
Day 1: 5, 10-04

88. Austin Felix -- Eden Prairie, MN -- 5, 10-04 -- 13
Day 1: 5, 10-04

90. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 5, 10-01 -- 11
Day 1: 5, 10-01

91. Joshua Stracner -- Vandiver, AL -- 5, 09-15 -- 10
Day 1: 5, 09-15

92. Taku Ito -- Chiba, JAPAN -- 5, 09-07 -- 9
Day 1: 5, 09-07

92. Alex Redwine -- Blue Ash, OH -- 5, 09-07 -- 9
Day 1: 5, 09-07

94. Masayuki Matsushita -- Tokoname-Shi, JAPAN -- 5, 08-12 -- 7
Day 1: 5, 08-12

95. Cory Johnston Cavan, ON -- 5, 08-03 -- 6
Day 1: 5, 08-03

95. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 5, 08-03 -- 6
Day 1: 5, 08-03

97. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 06-12 -- 4
Day 1: 5, 06-12

98. Matt Robertson -- Kuttawa, KY -- 5, 06-04 -- 3
Day 1: 5, 06-04

99. Alex Wetherell -- Middletown, CT -- 4, 06-00 -- 2
Day 1: 4, 06-00

100. Cole Sands -- Calhoun, TN -- 4, 05-06 -- 1
Day 1: 4, 05-06

101. John Soukup -- Sapulpa, OK -- 5, 05-04 -- 0
Day 1: 5, 05-04

102. David Williams -- Newton, NC -- 3, 03-01 -- 0
Day 1: 3, 03-01

103. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, AR -- 0, 00-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 00-00