WHEELING, W. Va. Anglers complained about tough fishing on the Ohio River before the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional began today, and the first-day weights proved the contestants weren't sandbagging.
Only five of the 72 anglers brought limits to the scales, and the heaviest of those was caught by Virginia's Jeff Freeman. That 6 pounds, 12 ounces put Freeman in the lead with a scan 3-ounce cushion.
"It's that tough," Freeman said.
John Serge of the New Jersey team goes into day 2 second with 6-9, followed by New Jersey's Dan Boslet with 6-3. Rounding out the top five were West Virginia's Rick Hamer (5-2), and Maryland's Jim Mathews and New Jersey's Scott Weiland (5 pounds each).
Freeman said a critical key for him today was current.
"I really don't think I'll have a problem catching a limit every day; it may not weigh but 4 pounds, but I think I can catch a limit," he said. "But maybe the clouds could affect things. Everything that I've been on has been on blue-bird skies."
In addition to the overall individual competition, anglers also are vying for top team positions. The top angler from each of the division's six state teams moves on to the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship slated for October on Florida's Harris Chain of Lakes.
Joining Freeman as state-team leaders are Delaware's Jim Short (4-6), Maryland's Mathews, New Jersey's Serge, Pennsylvania's Richard Knoll (4-12) and West Virginia's Hamer.
Also on the line is a Skeeter/Yamaha boat package valued at $30,000 for the team accruing the most weight during the tournament.
Leading in the team competition going into the second day is New Jersey with a total of 30-2. Virginia is second with 27-2, Maryland is third with 23-2, Delaware is fourth with 21-11, West Virginia is fifth with 21-2 and Pennsylvania is sixth with 18-6.
Competition continues tomorrow, with a 6:45 a.m. blastoff from Wheeling Island boat launch. Weigh-in begins at 3:15 p.m. at Cabela's.
All events are free and open to the public.