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Day One: Popular Trio in Shootout

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JASPER, Texas — Here's the unexpected.

The foul weather that was projected to disrupt the opening day of the CITGO Bassmaster Lone Star Shootout never showed up. No wind, no rain, no hail.

Now here's something a heck of a lot more reliable than any weather forecast — Greg Hackney, Kevin VanDam and Michael Iaconelli sitting atop the leaderboard.

Those three men are considered to be among the most consistent anglers on tour. So it wasn't surprising that each took advantage of the relatively opportune weather and produced healthy bags of fish on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Hackney, who hails from Louisiana, topped the field with a five-fish limit that weighed 22 pounds, 2 ounces. VanDam is right on his heels with a sack weighing 22-1. Iaconelli is in third with 21-8.

Hackney said he was concerned the wind would affect his ability to land the sizable fish he found during the two practice days earlier this week. But the gusts that have been known to churn on Rayburn were a no-show, allowing Hackney to make the run across one of the largest parts of the lake to his place of choice.

"I was nervous about the weather," Hackney said. "I pretty much wore my rain suit all the way until about the last hour when I got cooking so bad, I had to take it off. But the weather, yeah, that's in the back of your mind."

With the meteorological concerns behind him, Hackney was able to focus on what he does best. He threw soft plastics to bedding fish along Rayburn's shoreline and met success.

Still, he's not certain if he'll continue to do that Friday.

"I've got two or three other deals working," he said. "I kind of have a reaction thing going in one spot and a slow fishing deal in another. Today, I stuck with the slow fishing. They're just kind of caught right there on the bank line. That's the main deal going on right now. Most of the fish are in the shallows."

VanDam, however, was able to land his limit away from the shoreline. He didn't share which lures he was using, but estimated he made several thousand casts on Thursday, harkening to his favored power-fishing style.

"It doesn't seem like there's a lot of big fish in the shallow stuff," the Michigan pro said. "There's a bunch of smaller males there, but a lot of the big females, a big wave of them, have already came in and spawned and are on their way out."

He's out of first place by only one ounce, but VanDam hinted he had a chance to put extra distance between himself and the field.

"I left my fish a little too early," he said. "I thought I had more than what I did. So, I'm going to work this area real hard again."

Iaconelli targeted pre-spawn fish with reaction baits and went after spawning fish with Texas-rigged Berkeley baits. He said this was his first major tournament at Rayburn and he likes what he sees of the fabled fishery.

"It's an amazing lake," Iaconelli said. "When I see all that grass, I get a smile on my face. That's what I'm doing is fishing the grass."

Dean Rojas is in fourth place with 21 pounds. Edwin Evers is fifth with 20 pounds, 12 ounces.

The anglers will launch tomorrow at 6:15 a.m. The field will be cut to 50 on Friday.