Go away, wind
Wind was the key word Thursday until the weigh-in began, with consistent blasts from 20- to 30-miles per hour with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.
The live release pontoon boats were moved from Lake Amistad near the Diablo East Marina because waves were slamming them into the bank. Anglers found themselves trying to get out of the wind in the back of coves, creeks or anywhere else they could catch a break.
"The wind was so rough I just stayed in the same creek all day," said Kelly Jordon of Texas, who was in 40th place with 19 pounds, 15 ounces.
"Kevin VanDam already was in there when I pulled in, and he said I couldn't stay," Jordon said, smiling. "I asked him if I could fish behind him and he said sure, and within about 15 minutes or so I had two 5-pounders and a 4-pounder in the boat."
Needed a big bite
Robert Hamilton of Mississippi found himself just a few bites short of what could have been a bigger catch than his 25-1, which wasn't shabby and put him in 18th place.
"I've been catching two in the 8-10 pound range in practice, but I couldn't get the big bite today," he said. "They weren't there. I couldn't catch anything but 4- to 6-pounders, but that's all right. I just want to be consistent and catch another 25-pound bag Friday."
The top 50 pros and co-anglers will make the cut to fish Saturday, and then the top 12 pros will fish Sunday.
Watch the watch
Kevin Langill of North Carolina lost seven pounds from his weight of 12 pounds, 15 ounces because he was seven minutes late. Anglers are docked a pound per minute if they miss their check-in time.
"I got mixed up on what time to come in," Langill said.
His co-angler lost all his weight due to the penalty.
Late boats miss out
When the sight-fishing bite is on fire, the first flights get a break by getting to their spots earlier than those in later flights.
If the fish are on the beds more than a day, the late-flight guys get the first crack because the flights invert each day. But if it's a one-day deal, or the bite is waning, guys in the late flights either have to go elsewhere or try to stay focused.
"You're just picking up scraps if you're in the later flights," said Gerald Swindle of Alabama. "When that happened to me years ago, I'd get in panic mode because you check the first spot and there's boats on it. You check the second spot and there's boats on it. Before long, it's 9 a.m. and you're still running around.
"I finally just realized through trial and error it's something you can't deal with, and you have to move on to your other stuff. If not, it can mess with your head and put you in that hurry-up mode, and that's not good."
VanDam settles down
Two-time Citgo Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam is known for his speed-fishing techniques with spinnerbaits and jerkbaits, but Thursday he had to put on the brakes.
"I just stayed in my area and fished a lot slower than I'm used to," he said after weighing in 27-3. "I caught a couple of 5-pounders right off the bat and that calmed me down pretty well, so I was able to fish slower than normal."
Middle of the pack
Mark Tucker marveled over the Lake Amistad fishery as he weighed in his limit on the first day of the Battle on the Border.
"You catch a 20-pound bag and find yourself at the bottom of the pack - that's what kind of fishery this is. I was catching them so good that I didn't want to stop and come in for the weigh in."
One of the best
"In my opinion, this is one of the best lakes in the country," noted Guy Eaker. "I used to think the Santee Cooper lakes were the best but, by gosh, the big bass live here in Lake Amistad."
Living the dream
Jarrett Edwards is happy to be fishing in the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series.
"It's a dream come true to be out here fishing. It was this time a year ago that I had to withdraw from BASS competition (after being diagnosed with cancer). It was a year of recovery for my wife and I," Edwards said after weighing in 25 pounds and 15 ounces
"I just thank God to be living and to be fishing is icing on the cake. It's great to be back and open up with a bag like this."
Which way the wind blows
During practice the wind blew from the South/Southeast, which is thought to be the prevailing winds in this area. However, today it turned and blew from the West/Northwest. And it blew hard.
At 7:00 a.m., anglers estimated that it was blowing 15- to 18-miles per hour. However, an hour later, it picked up.
"By 8:30 it was blowing 25- to 30-miles per hour," said Mike Wurm. According to the weatherman, it was gusting up to 37.
Ray Sedgewick said he could feel it picking up the bow of his boat.
"I tried to fish in open water. You could feel the wind try to lift the bow of the boat. It knocked hats off, blew things out the boat. IT just blew."
Kevin Short put it succinctly.
'I thought it was going to blow my underwear off."
Wurm was ready for a break from the wind.
"It finally started to lay around 2:30. Just in time for check in."
Tomorrow's forecast is for winds out of the Southeast at 10- to 15-miles per hour.
Jon Bondy, the only Canadian angler in the field, traveled more than 33 hours to get to Lake Amistad from his hometown of Windsor, Ontario. He also expressed his mission while touring the United States in the Elite Series field:
"I want to meet the President of the United States," Bondy exclaimed. "You see, we both have one thing in common, he and myself both subscribe to Bassmaster Magazine."
One for the history books
The first angler to check-in after one day of competition at the first CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series was rookie Paul Hirosky of Guy Mills, Pennsylvania. He weighed in five fish totaling 19 pounds even, and was the leader of the tournament for all of about two minutes.
Fish o' plenty
Florida angler Terry Scroggins said that he was catching an average of 100 fish per day during the official practice period. The wind must have slowed Scroggins down a smidgen during the first day of competition on Lake Amistad as he said he only caught around 75 keepers.
Non-boater John Basinger claims to be a distant cousin of the gorgeous actress Kim Basinger. The movie star's beauty may have helped the amateur angler reel in some fish as he caught a limit of three fish weighing 9 pounds 13 ounces, which has him sitting in 20th place on the leaderboard.
New to the CITGO Bassmaster tournament trail, the Elite Series has designated anglers in take-off flights yielding sponsor names. There are ten flights total, and each angler will be assigned to the same flight during the entire 11-event circuit. Jimmy Houston commented on being deemed part of the Theraseed flight of anglers.
"I'm in the prostate cancer flight so if that doesn't tell you something about this group I don't know what will. They might have put me in that flight on purpose."
First day jitters
Steve Daniel's stomach may have been jumping today on Lake Amistad.
"I think everybody was a little nervous today. This is the year BASS is going to put the world of bass fishing on the map. Everyone wants to do well this year and qualify for this year's Classic."