|RIDGELAND, Miss. — While 33,000 acres of fishable water seems like it should easily support a 109-angler field, most Elite Series anglers would say they’re sharing water at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett.
Ross Barnett Reservoir is the smallest venue on the schedule this year, but the quality is evident as the Top 6 anglers weighed limits of bass near or exceeding the 20-pound mark.
The question is can weights like Brandon Card’s impressive 22 pounds, 14 ounces be reproduced during Friday’s second round of competition.
“That’s a great question,” Card of Knoxville, Tenn., said following weigh-in. “I spent some time here during pre-practice, and the fishing was on fire. But that bite has changed dramatically since then, and I found an area during our official practice days, which is where I caught them today. I know the number of quality fish are available to have another 20-pound day, but I think it’ll take about a 17-pound average per day to remain in contention for the win.”
Like most of the field, Card is sharing water with other anglers because the best bass fishing seems to be concentrated in certain locations on Ross Barnett.
“The fishing pressure is certainly a factor at this event,” he said. “But to keep my mind in the game, I slow down and focus on making a good cast every time. You can catch fish behind people by doing it that way. I know I’m on the right fish to win this thing, but it’s too early to make any predictions. All I’m able to do at this point is hit the water again tomorrow and do the best I can.”
The old saying goes: “You can’t win a tournament on the first day of a tournament, but you can lose it on the first day.”
Bobby Lane, of Lakeland, Fla., repeated those exact words, and will be starting out Friday morning in second place with 20-14.
“What’s great about this tournament is I’m right at home fishing for bass in shallow water,” Lane said. “I have almost zero experience on Ross Barnett, and not having any preconceived notions has helped me to fish clean and not worry about the other anglers fishing in my area.”
Lane said he was very encouraged by what he learned today, and he’s ready to get out and do it again.
“Who knows what tomorrow is going to bring with stronger winds and fewer clouds,” he said. “But I’m not going to change anything, and I expect the bass to be feeding in a similar locations as they did today. I’m going to be there when they do.”
Mount Ida, Ark., resident and 1995 Bassmaster Classic champion Mark Davis said fishing with extreme patience was key to his impressive five-bass limit that weighed 20-10, good enough for third place after Day 1.
“I like to fish slow and steady,” Davis said. “And with the crowded waters here at Ross Barnett, I felt my style of fishing would be very productive. I’m sharing a piece of the lake with another angler, and we both weighed very similar limits of bass today. We’ve talked and have agreed to work with each other to make it happen again on Friday.”
Rounding out the Top 10: Keith Poche (20-2), Brandon Lester (19-15), Dustin Connell (19-12), Dave Lefebre (18-4), Brent Chapman (18-1), Marty Robinson (18-0) and Brandon Coulter (17-5).
Lester is in the lead for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award with his 7-2 largemouth bass.
Competition will resume Friday with the full field taking off at 6:15 a.m. CT from Madison Landing. The weigh-in will be held at Old Trace Park at 3:15 p.m.
The event is hosted by the Ridgeland Tourism Commission.
2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Triton Boats, Shell Rotella, Humminbird, Nitro Boats, Mercury, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha, Berkley, Huk, Minn Kota, Power-Pole
2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: T-H Marine, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Phoenix Boats, Lowrance, Shimano, Advance Auto Parts, Livingston Lures
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