ZAPATA, Texas Randall Jackson, a co-angler in the Lone Star Shootout, presented by Longhorn this week on Falcon Lake, saw BASS Elite Series pro Byron Velvick walking down the dock after the first weigh-in of the event, and couldn't help but laugh.
Jackson weighed in first of the 109 co-anglers with his pro, Aaron Martens. Both led their respective divisions Martens with a staggering 42 pounds and Jackson, with 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Velvick had fished in the same area as Martens, and came in fifth on the pro side, with 35-6.
"I've got you tomorrow," Jackson told Velvick.
"Oh, my God," Velvick said, laughing. "You're going to win."
If Jackson can put together even one more day like what he experienced Thursday, he'll be tough to catch. He and Martens had such a sublime morning on the water quick addition says they towed more than 74 pounds of bass back to the dock that Martens called it a day several hours early, fearing that they'd suffer fish-care penalties if any of the fish died while sardined into the livewells.
"The boat needs a bigger livewell," said Jackson, of Broken Arrow, Okla. "Both sides. They weren't made for this lake.
"I've caught bigger fish before," Jackson continued. "But it's one thing to catch 'em in practice. It's hard to have a day like today in a tournament."
Jackson's son, Benjamin, was also fishing the co-angler side, though with 11-1, he found himself tied for 73rd place.
"I'm going to have to chase him down," the son said as his father stood beside him. Then he added, "I'm happy. More happy than I would be for myself. How could I not be? He taught me how to fish."
Having a big first day of a tournament, especially on the co-angler side, is more important even than having a big final day. Weights tend to be highest before the fish are pressured for several days and on Thursday, they were downright obscene. A dozen co-anglers weighed in more than 20 pounds; 15 pounds would miss the 50-cut.
Veteran co-angler Harry Potts, for example, caught an 8-6 lunker on his final cast "I think I'm hung on a limb, but then my rod went down" and still is in just 49th place. Troy Sprague, the co-angler whose 12-3 kicker led the co-angler side on Day One, needed only two more fish to sit in 16th place.
Paired with Velvick, Jackson would appear to be in the catbird seat, but he's still less than 2 pounds ahead of Ron Chapman, the father of Elite Series pro Brent Chapman, who weighed in 30-1.
The elder Chapman, of Lake Quivira, Kan., fished with Velvick, catching many pre-spawn fish in more than 30 feet of water, and so was within sight of Martens and Jackson during their marvelous run. "The once-in-a-lifetime bag," Chapman called it. "I thought the 30 pound bag was incredible, but I probably culled two 25 bags. I probably caught 10 5-pounders trying to cull one of my 5-and-a-halfs."
Chapman drew Skeet Reese for Day Two. The pro's message to Chapman: "Don't expect any more 30-pound bags."
No matter. Chapman said he already has a return trip planned with friends. "I used to be a believer in Lake Amistad," he said. "This lake will whip Amistad any day."
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Lone Star Shootout on Falcon Lake, from Zapata, Texas, April 3–6, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:50pm ET. "Hooked Up" will air Sunday at 10 a.m., noon and 5:15 p.m. ET.