Scrambling in Day 1 of the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship


PRATTVILLE, Ala. - Pro angler Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., fished in the fast lane of the Alabama River to take the Day 1 lead in the high-stakes CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship on Thursday. McClelland weighed-in a five-bass limit of 17 pounds, 12 ounces. His closest competitor, Matt Reed of Madisonville, Texas, weighed one of the nearly 30 limits caught to score 14-12. Fellow Arkansas angler Doug Garrett was in third place with 13-3.

For those who couldn’t see the action on the water today, the Open Championship will air on ESPN2 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006, at 10 a.m. EST.

After sunny practice days, anglers awoke Thursday morning to fog, which delayed launch by two hours. Clouds and fluctuating river levels sent many of the anglers rambling and scrambling for new patterns. McClelland, however, was on target. “I hadn’t seen anything over 2 pounds in practice,” he said. “But today, the current was right and it pushed them shallow … I fished the main river close to an eddy.”

But the question remains: Can McClelland keep the lead? Forecasts call for sunshine Friday, clouds on Saturday and rain on Sunday. Also, river levels are yo-yoing as water is released through the dams above and below the check out point, causing fish to reposition themselves at irregular intervals.

While professional anglers are both talented and experienced, some still enjoy a bit of luck every now and then. Garrett caught a surprise fish that turned out to be the largest bass of the day. The 7-pound, 12-ounce bass helped boost him into third. “I was so shocked at the place the largemouth was,” he said.

Also, William Beekman of New York took the lead on the non-boater side with 9-9. Jack Farage of California trails behind him with 8-10.

Daily weigh-ins at Cooters Pond Park are free to the public. Weigh-ins begin at 3:30 EST and BASS founder Ray Scott, who was at the tournament today, will lend a hand at the weigh-ins over the weekend.

The field is cut to 10 on Saturday for the semifinal round. The finals will feature the top five pros and weights each day carry over. The winning boater takes home an $80,000 prize package and the top five boaters earn berths into the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26, 2006, on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla.

Local sponsors: Local sponsors include the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bassmaster Open Series sponsors: CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).

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