Every pro weighed a limit of fish on the first day of the Golden State Shootout presented by Evan Williams Bourbon. But it was a close call. Brent Chapman "almost had a heart attack" when he brought his limit of five fish to the stage only to find … four fish in it.
While emcee Keith Alan held the stage, Chapman retraced his steps as though he were searching for his car keys. Make that urgently searching. To keep the fish alive while anglers wait to weigh them, they stand in line beside tall tubs of aerated water, holding their fish confined in mesh sacks that are cramped but permeable.
Anglers in line checked the tubs. Tournament workers then skimmed the tubs with handheld nets. Chapman ran up and down the stairs backstage. He was starting to fret. Then someone pulled a fish out of the depths of a tub, and passed it up to Chapman.
His bag went from 18-7, which would have been good for 71st place, up to 23-11, enough for 23rd.
"That was about as scared as I've ever been," he told the crowd. He figured the fish escaped when he rested his aching hands and back by propping his foot on the tub and hanging the handles of the bag off his shoe.
He will never do that again.
Wait, wait! It gets better!
Aaron Martens picked up more or less where he left off last week, when the former Angler of the Year picked up his first Elite Series tournament win at the Duel in the Delta. He still hasn't been home to Alabama to see his baby son, born a little more than a week ago. And the schedule between the Duel in the Delta and the Golden State Shootout meant he had no time to celebrate. His dinner after his big win consisted not of a steak, but of a roast beef sandwich.
On Thursday he sacked 26 pounds, good for 15th place. He seemed pleased, but when asked to assess the quality of the fishing on this familiar lake, he said it was at perhaps 30 to 40 percent.
By Sunday, he predicted, that would be a full 100 percent. "I think they're going to spawn," he said.
If stays as hot as he's been, look for Martens to meet baby Spencer next week with steak on his breath.
That's a relief
After slower starts in a couple of recent tournaments, fishing legend-in-the-making Kevin VanDam on Day One rolled up to the dock with a sack weighing 27-8, good for 7th place and 5-6 behind leader Greg Gutierrez.
How good did KVD feel?
"I'm real optimistic about my chances to do well here this week," he said.
That makes pretty much everyone, then.
You really have to hear it
Gerald Swindle said he's taken to calling one of his big swimbaits the "Ooh, ooh!" bait.
That's the sound he makes after throwing it and watching big bass swims near enough to regard it. To pronounce the "Ooh, ooh!" bait properly, it helps to point downward at about a 60-degree angle. About like Swindle would when he sees a fish that makes his eyes bug out.
"I did not throw a swimbait all day. If I could figure out how to catch these swimbait fish, these guys would be in trouble." Glenn Delong (18th, 25-8)
"I got so many 3- to 5-pounders in it, it's sick. I enjoyed it. I just wish it weren't 2,000 miles from my house." Arkansan Stephen Browning
"I don't understand fishing at times." Denny Brauer, after finishing Day One in 104th place
"I caught them every way that I can possibly think." Mark Menendez
"Something got into the food supply, because I've never seen so many fat, healthy bass." Kevin VanDam
"I wore the hide off my hands catching fish today." Jimmy Mize
Editors Note: ESPNOutdoors.com's new and exclusive pre-game show, Hooked Up, will start at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 1. It will be hosted by ESPN2 Bassmaster television hosts Tommy Sanders and Jerry McKinnis, and can be seen in the same location on ESPNOutdoors.com where the live video weigh-in is streamed.