- Robert Montgomery
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SALISBURY, Md. -- Delaware took full advantage of its home-team advantage during Day One of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Mid Atlantic Divisional.
Fishing the historic waters of the Nanticoke River, anglers from "The First State" checked in with 62 pounds, 14 ounces to establish a 7-15 lead over second-place Virginia, which managed 54-15.
Additionally, Delaware's Larry Taylor grabbed the individual lead with 10-15. Zimbabwe's Ian Harris and Maryland's Terry McCumber tied for second with 8-2.
"I had 10 bites and they were all keepers," Taylor said.
Competitors weren't sure what to expect on the river explored by Captain John Smith in the early 1600s. Hurricane Earl skirted the Atlantic Coast less than a week before, and late-summer can be a tough time for bass fishing in the tidal tributaries of Chesapeake Bay.
"Two weeks ago, the guys said they caught a lot of fish here," said Ralph Millsaps, Virginia's youth director. "But when they came back, the bass had turned off. It can be like that in tidal rivers -- 20 fish one time and nothing the next."
Delaware Fed Nation president Don Denault, however, was optimistic before the Day-One weigh-in.
"I'm thinking that it will take 30 to 32 pounds to win this time of year," he said. "And a 6-pounder almost always finds a way to the scale in local tournaments. I'm hoping that it comes with one of our guys."
On Day One, no 6-pounders showed up in the parking lot of Salisbury's Gander Mountain, where the weigh-in occurred on a hot, sunny, and windy day.
Virginia's Steve Roberts brought in a 3-14 for big-fish honors. But if Taylor's first-day performance is an indication of what is to come, Denault should be right on target for winning weight.
The Delaware team, meanwhile, has established a substantial lead over its five additional competitors in the three-day tournament. New Jersey is in third with 44-3, West Virginia fourth with 41-12, Zimbabwe fifth with 37-11, Maryland sixth with 37-0, and Pennsylvania seventh with 34-11.
Zimbabwe anglers are competing in a Federation Nation Divisional for the first time in several years. Bass Pro Shops donated six boats for the African anglers to use.
"We're planning to come every second year," said Daren Crause, who estimated that cost for each angler was $5,000 to $6,000. "We'll do fund-raising one year and come back the next."
The 84 anglers fishing on Day One brought in 215 bass, weighing 313-2, with 20 limits.
'First State' anglers ride home-water advantage to first