It took three bass pros from Mississippi to come up with one five-fish limit in today's first round of the Bassmaster Classic on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell. Even more unfortunate? Only two of them contributed.
B.A.S.S. Nation qualifier Teb Jones of Hattiesburg had the best day of the Magnolia State’s contingent with three bass that weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces, putting him in 33rd place in the three-day tournament.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Cliff Pace of Petal, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic Champion, caught two fish that weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces to go into Day 2 in 43rd, while Elite Series angler Paul Elias of Laurel, the oldest fisherman in the 56-man field at 63, was one of four anglers who didn’t weigh in a fish.
“I never had a bite; I never even thought I had a bite,” Elias said. “It’s hard to believe you can make that many casts and not have a single bite.”
Jones said he caught the only three fish that bit on Friday. He felt like the extremely cold weather slowed down his bite, but what hurt the worst was a 90-minute delay in blasting off.
“I had a pretty tough day,” he said. “I had been getting more bites, but it slowed down considerably today. The water was 3 or 4 degrees colder than it was Wednesday.
"I think what really hurt me was losing two hours of fishing this morning. I had been chasing the little schooling deal early in the morning, but by the time we got out, it was much too late to do it. That probably cut out a couple of my fish.”
Pace, who is in 43rd place, admitted to struggling.
“It was rough on me today," he said. "I thought I had a pretty good practice, but it crumbled on me. There’s no doubt the water temperature dropping is what hurt me. The second spot I pulled up on was iced over.”