"It was a little rough out there first thing this morning, and it was a couple of hours before we started catching fish," Struif said. "I finished second fishing this spot in the July EverStart here and ran back out there to find the fish were still there."
He admitted that he caught the smallmouths with a drop shot in the last EverStart but that they wouldn't hit a drop shot now. "I'm just fishing tubes because they won't hit the drop shot on this spot," he said. "I basically stuck with two colors all day."
Rounding out the top-five pros are Bob Izumi of Milton, Ontario (five bass, 22 pounds, 3 ounces); Mark Dowd of Westland (five bass, 21 pounds, 5 ounces); Cecil Cole of Durand (five bass, 21 pounds, 7 ounces); and Patrick Goodman of White Pigeon (five bass, 21 pounds, 4 ounces).
James Richardson Sr. of Harrison, Ohio caught five bass weighing 21 pounds, 1 ounce to lead the Co-angler Division on day one. Richardson fished with Mike Woolley of West Bloomfield and caught all his smallmouths dragging a tube while drifting over humps. "Woolley struggled to get the bites today, but I was culling early," Richardson said. "So I just put my rod down and quit fishing around noon because I didn't want to burn up his fish. It was hard to refrain from experimenting and fishing for four hours."
Rounding out the top-five co-anglers are Homer Stephens of Noblesville, Ind. (five bass, 20 pounds, 6 ounces); Craig Brannon of Cooksville, Ohio (five bass, 18 pounds, 4 ounces); Melvin McNeal of Circleville, Ohio (five bass, 18 pounds, 2 ounces); and Ryan Hopping of Lake Saint Louis, Mo. (five bass, 17 pounds, 8 ounces).
Cole caught a 6-pound, smallmouth to win the $425 Snickers Big Bass Award in the Pro Division while Stephens and Jamie Szawara of Brownstown both caught a 5-pound, 3-ounce bass to win $92.50 each for big bass in the Co-angler Division.
Anglers caught 717 bass weighing 2,138 pounds, 6 ounces, a 3-pound average per bass.
EverStart Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of two rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday and Thursday, and the top 10 pros and co-anglers - based on two-day accumulated weights - advance to the final round. Anglers start at zero Friday, and pro and co-angler winners are determined Saturday based on two-day accumulated weights.
For more information on the EverStart Series or any of FLW Outdoors' eight tournament trails, visit http://www.FLWOutdoors.com.