OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Things weren’t all bad on Lake of the Ozarks today to start the EverStart Central Division season. Although only 16 limits of bass were caught out of the 122 pros who launched out of Grand Glaize Recreation Area this morning, there were still several limits that held the caliber fish more commonly seen on this lake.
The angler that rose to the top after day one was local pro Mark Tucker of Kirkwood, Mo. Tucker jumped out to a 5-ounce lead by sacking up 22 pounds, 7 ounces worth of fish. Having local knowledge is often a curse in tournament fishing, but when the bite is tough it sure helps to know some other options.
“I had a tough practice. I didn’t even practice yesterday because I didn’t want to get discouraged,” said Tucker. “I fished a tournament out here last weekend and got second when the bite was still good, but once we got that rain it made the fishing really tough.
“I have caught fish so many different ways this time of the year from dam to dam that it makes it tough to decide what to do. Luckily the thing I’m doing is a pattern and I would much rather run a pattern than (fish past) history.”
Clearly, the sun and wind were factors in aiding the better bite on the water. During practice, several anglers struggled to catch a keeper let alone a limit.
“I probably caught two or three limits of fish today,” Tucker went on to say. “They really come in spurts though. It was good early, and then it died off. It picked up again early afternoon – then died – and by the end of the day it picked up. You just need to be in the right place at the right time when they go to feeding.”
With tomorrow supposedly bringing even warmer weather it could move more fish up shallow and help the bite.
“The fish are moving right now and you need to be able to adjust. That is why I am fishing in the moment and running my pattern. If the wind blows tomorrow, they’ll bite again.”
Foree in second
Another local stick that sprinted to the front of the pack is Mike Foree of Osage Beach, Mo. He hauled a whopping 22 pounds, 2 ounces to the stage today to sit just out of the lead. Foree is another example of just how far local knowledge can carry you after a less than favorable practice.
“My practice was absolutely terrible, just terrible,” said Foree, who has five top-10 finishes in FLW competition on Lake of the Ozarks. “I knew I had five banks with keeper fish on them so that is what I ran today. I got my fish off of three of those banks – then I ran and checked some other places. I think I had my first fish within the first 30 minutes. It took a while after that though until I got my next bite.
“I caught several 2 ½- to 3-pound bass today. I’d say I had probably 10 or 11 keepers. I even culled a fish out towards the end of the day to give me an upgrade of a few ounces.”
Foree is catching the majority of his fish on a classic presentation for coldwater bass, a jerkbait.
Sticking to his guns, Foree plans to run the same banks tomorrow hoping that it produce again – especially since he caught a 6-12 largemouth which took big bass honors for day one.
“I’m going to burn about $100 worth of gas tomorrow running my same spots. Nobody is fishing any of my places, and I believe the bite is only going to get better. The fish live on those banks and I just need another 7-pound bite.”
Keeping the local theme alive is current third-place angler Marcus Sykora of Osage Beach, Mo. Sykora is the proud owner of 11 top-10 finishes, including four FLW wins on Lake of the Ozarks. His catch of 20 pounds, 14 ounces will give the local pro a good start to the rest of the competition days.
“I was catching fish in practice,” said Kowal. “I didn’t sit on any place too long in practice so I wasn’t sure what kinds of fish were on them, but I still managed two or three decent fish every day.
“When I started on my best bank and didn’t catch anything I got a little nervous. After that though I just ran water I knew. There is no real rhyme or rhythm to these fish. Some places have fish and some don’t.”
Kowal relied on a jig, jerkabit and Alabama rig to produce his fish today.
“Nothing changes tomorrow for me,” said the pro who took second in the 2010 EverStart Lake of the Ozarks event. “I just hope the winds lays down to make the ride in my 18-foot boat a little better.”
One of the first anglers to weigh in today was Saint Peters, Mo., native Chuck Austin. With 19 pounds, 9 ounces, Austin managed to claim the lead for a while until he eventually slid down the leaderboard.
“Practice was very brutal for me,” said Austin. “I fish down here a lot and this week has been tougher than it has been this year. It’s a grind and I’m just thankful to have what I have.”
Austin had a slow start to the morning as he did not boat a keeper until around 11:30 a.m.
“I’m not getting a lot of bites,” the local pro said. “I think I lost one fish today but I am just trying to cover water by hitting a lot of brushpiles. I’m running from Tan-Tar-A to Chimney Cove; that’s a lot of water.”
As far as tomorrow is concerned, Austin thinks he may try to mix it up. The fact that he went so long without a bite in the morning makes him want to try some different things to put fish in the boat quicker.
Rest of the Best
Rounding out the top-10 pros after day one of the EverStart Series event on Lake of the Ozarks:
6th: Bob Richardson of Granite City, Ill., four bass, 17-14
7th: Dave Donham of Highlandville, Mo., five bass, 17-11
8th: Jim Young of House Springs, Mo., five bass, 17-8
9th: Dennis Berhorst of Holts Summit, Mo., five bass, 17-7
10th: Greg Bohannan of Rogers, Ark., five bass, 16-0
McClary leads co-angler divison
Joe McClary of Richmond Heights, Mo., was the only co-angler on day one to catch a limit of bass. McClary caught a massive 18-pound, 9-ounce stringer to give him a 4-2 lead above the rest.
McClary was paired with pro Bob Richardson who showed he was on the right fish when he produced 17-14 with only four bass.
“I had an awesome day,” said McClary. “I had a lot of fun with Bob (Richardson) but the bites were few and far between. Credit goes out to Bob, its guys like him that make this sport possible. It was an honor to fish with him.”
With only five bites the entire day, McClary made them count. He got to work early and had most of his limit before Richardson had any fish.
“I was doing somethings different than Bob,” McClary went on to say. “It was a grind all day but we knew we were around the right kind of fish.”
McClary feels like he may have learned a few things that could help him throughout this event. He even caught his first fish today on a jerkbait.
Goen in second
“The key for me was slow, slow, slow,” said Goen. “The wind made it tough at times to fish that way. But knowing there were fish in the area made it better.”
Goen did receive a fifth bite, but was unable to put it in the boat. He says that the fish are lethargic and are not committed to eating the bait really well.
When asked about only having four bass Goen replied, “Quality is better than quantity in this game.”
“I knew they were going to bite today,” said Swast. “I didn’t make a far run with my boater and I had my first fish by 8:05 a.m., which came on a jerkbait.”
Swast lost two fish over 4 pounds today on a jerkbait as well. The other three keepers he had all came on a Crock-O-Gator Swamp Bug (green pumpkin) with a Crock-O-Gator Shaker jig. Swast also said that a big help in fishing that jerkbait in the wind was his 6-foot, 10-inch St. Croix rod.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers after day one:
4th: Clint Long of Lees Summit, Mo., three bass, 9-12
5th: Nick Lofferman Jr. of Valles Mines, Mo., four bass, 9-0
6th: Mike Youngblood of St. Louis, Mo., two bass, 8-12
7th: Brian Somrek of Cunningham, Ky., two bass, 8-2
8th: Reggie Crabdree of Park Hills, Mo., two bass, 7-7
9th: Joshua Hubbard of Diamond, Ill., two bass, 6-14
10th: Frank Divis Sr. of Fayetteville, Ark., two bass, 6-13
Day two of the EverStart Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks will begin Friday at 7 a.m. from Grand Glaize Recreation Area.