SANDUSKY, Ohio Favorable weather helped Pete Gluszek of Mount Laurel, N.J., take the Day One lead with 23 pounds, 13 ounces of Lake Erie smallmouth at the last stop on the 2009 Bassmaster Northern Opens circuit.
Gluszek made a long run Thursday to water that might not be accessible Friday if the forecast holds.
"They're calling for 6- to 7-foot waves tomorrow, so that could really hamper where I can go," Gluszek said after Thursday's weigh-in. "Today was nice though, I was able to go right where I wanted and catch a lot of big fish."
Gluszek's limit was the best of the 50 or so fish he caught while drop-shotting, a technique new to the New Jersey angler.
"I had to learn it because I was always getting beat up here by guys drop-shotting," he said. "So I've been working hard on it recently. It used to be one of my weaknesses.
Gluszek said he is cautiously optimistic about his chances of repeating Thursday's performance, but the weather is always the wild card on Erie.
"You never know, this place could throw you a curve," he said.
One pound, 1 ounce behind Gluszek was Garrett Green of Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada with 22-12. A stroke of good luck got Bracebridge and his co-angler to the top of the leaderboards.
"By 2:30, I only had about 10 pounds," Green said. "All of a sudden we found this hungry school of smallies, and by 2:45 I had what I have now."
Green added 10 pounds to his limit by tossing a drop-shot rig.
Rounding out the top five were Chris King of South Amherst, Ohio, in third with 22-8; Joe Balog of Harris Township, Mich., in fourth with 22-7; and Jared Rhode of Port Clinton, Ohio, in fifth with 22-5.
The 104 pro anglers are competing for a top prize of $45,000. Co-anglers are vying for a Triton/Mercury boat and motor package valued at $32,000.
Mike Staebler of Westerville, Ohio, leads the co-angler field with 20-8. He was drop-shotting from the back of second-place pro Garrett Green's boat and was able to quickly bring in a limit when the pair found the school of smallmouth. Together Green and Staebler had 10 fish that weighed more than 43 pounds overall.
Co-angler Gary Crayton of Farmington, Pa., was in second with 19-1; Tom Alt of Columbia City, Ind., was in third with 18-4.
Frank Scalish of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who led the points in the Northern Open division standings coming in to the Lake Erie event, was in sixth on the pro side Thursday with 21-8 and is on track for a berth in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala.
"I'm right where I need to be, but I'm fishing in a way I don't normally fish up here, in places I don't usually catch 'em," Scalish said. "If I can go (Friday) where I was today, I think I can duplicate this."
The top two pros after this final Northern Open will be awarded berths in the Classic, while the top seven competitors will be invited to fish the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season.
The three-day tournament's launches and weigh-ins are at Shelby Street Boat Launch, 101 Shelby St. in Sandusky, Ohio. Takeoff on Friday and Saturday is set for 7 a.m. ET. Weigh-ins will begin at 3:05 p.m.