BOSSIER CITY, La. — A packed leaderboard on a fickle river system with a front on the way — the Bassmaster Classic title is still very much up for grabs.
There are 16 anglers within 5 pounds of the lead, and eight of those anglers' Day One weights are 15 something.
"I did what I wanted to do on Day One, which is stay within sight of the lead," said Mike Iaconelli, who had 15 pounds, 5 ounces. "I'd really like to be near, but not in the lead going into the final day, but make no mistake, I'd take a 25-pound bag."
The sentiment from most the anglers in the 15-pound range was it would take another 15-pound day and then a 20-pound day to win the Classic. And as it is in so many tournaments, it's the kicker fish that makes the difference.
Kevin Wirth (15-3) said he lost a 5-pounder and a 4-pounder and weighed in a couple 2-pounders.
"It wasn't anything execution-wise, they were just things that happen," Wirth said. "If I can get those same kind of bites, I'm up to 18 or 20 pounds."
The one angler who didn't think it would take a 20-pound stringer — Kelly Jordon — unofficially had 19-10 in the first three hours of fishing.
"If I catch 15 pounds, today, I'll move up," Jordon said before launch Saturday morning. "If I catch 19-5, 19-5, I'll win. If I don't win, I'll give you five bucks."
River expert Bill Lowen, who had just under 15 pounds on Day One, said the kicker fish is what kept him from being in contention.
"You got to get one good bite," Lowen said. "That's going to be the difference between top 10 and top 16. I didn't get that bite. I caught a lot of 14-pound bags."
Iaconelli echoed Lowen's hope for a 7-pounder to anchor his bag, but he was confident about where he is fishing.
"I'm fishing a spot, not a pattern and I am really confident I'm around the fish to win," he said. "But I will have to catch a couple big fish, but they are there."