EVANS, Ga. Just to set the record straight, not everyone misses California.
The whoppers that the Bassmaster Elite Series pros were boating on seemingly every cast in the past two tour events on the West Coast didn't produce any more winners or any more checks than any other tournament, even if they did break records.
But on Thursday, when weights in the Pride of Georgia presented by Evan Williams Bourbon were decidedly modest compared with the recent tournaments, pro after pro confessed that they did feel spoiled by the fish on which they had so recently feasted.
"This is back to reality now," said Skeet Reese, who would need 11 more days on Clarks Hill to surpass his four-day total on Clear Lake if he kept up his 10-pound, 6-ounce pace of Day One.
Reese finished second at the Golden State Shootout; after Thursday, he sat in 46th. Steve Kennedy, who set the new BASS four-day tournament weight with more than 122 pounds on Clear Lake, caught only 7-1 for 86th. Greg Gutierrez, who had more than 108 pounds for third in that tourney, had the smallest five-fish limit of anyone: 5-10, for 95th place.
Kennedy and Gutierrez weighed in hours apart Thursday, but both joked that they were throwing swimbaits on Clear Lake bigger than the fish they caught on Clarks Hill.
"It was tough to downsize catching fish," Kennedy said. "Maybe I downsized just a little too much."
Jason Quinn, who seemed much happier fishing a lake that graces his native South Carolina, finished in 11th after Day One, and had this to say about California: "The fishing's not good by any means out there."
At least a few anglers boated a couple of trophy fish. Edwin Evers' big bass of Day One, an 8-2 specimen, came on just his third cast of the day, to a lay down.
"Man, you talk about a guy excited to catch a fish," he said. "That was me. I feel really fortunate and blessed to have that fish. That was a gift from God, especially on this lake."
To put that fish in perspective, it alone was bigger than 30 anglers' entire bags. Evers finished the day in sixth place, with 18-11.
Early but not often
Both Evers and Aaron Martens said their biggest fish of the day was their first fish of the day.
"It really calms you down when you catch a big one early," said Martens, who sits in 10th with 16-7. "I haven't hit some of my best spots, so hopefully I can catch another good bag tomorrow."
As for most of the field, they'd take a big bass morning, noon or night on Clarks Hill with the current conditions.
Local on the Edge
There were two names being thrown around as local favorites before the Pride of Georgia go under way. Casey Ashley was one, and he leads the tournament after Day One, and Jason Williamson was the other.
Williamson caught 10-6 on Thursday, which ties him for 46th.
"I figured I'd have one bad day during this tournament and I guess that was today," he said. "Don't count me out just yet."
Not a strong pattern
Ken Cook is on a pattern that isn't going to win many tournaments.
"I'm catching fish here every other day," Cook said after weighing in only 4-15. "So, I guess I'll catch them good tomorrow. Oh well, it feels better to catch them on the second day anyway."
"I like the tournaments that are a grindfest. This is going to be one of those." Bill Lowen (52nd place, 10-0)
"Them fish weighed about 3 pounds more than I thought they did." Russ Lane, after weighing in a bag of 5 pounds even
"It's a big reality check for me. I just had one of those bad days where everything that could go wrong did go wrong." Kevin VanDam (82nd, 7-11)
"I figured if I got to fish all four days, I'd have one bad day. I'm glad I got it out of the way." Jason Williamson (46th, 10-6)
"I'm staying with Casey, so he better be careful. I might bite his line tonight." Bryan Hudgins, who finished the day in fifth, less than three pounds behind leader Casey Ashley
"I had to shake a couple of these bigger fish off because it's April," Davy Hite explaining a tough day on the lake that he won on last season. He has won a tournament in May, the month of his birthday, the last two years.
"I tried to get two days out of these shoes and it was obviously a mistake. I'm going to bring in some rookies tomorrow and see what they can weigh in." Classic champion Boyd Duckett addressing an 8-14 day on the water, and the role his shoes played in the whole ordeal.
Editor's Note: Sunday, April 22, ESPNOutdoors.com will be having LIVE Video coverage of the Pride of Georgia, presented by Evan Williams Bourbon throughout the entire day. Check in at 6:15 a.m. ET for The Launch: LIVE! and see your favorite BASS Anglers take off for the day of competition. Check back at 10:00 a.m., noon, and 2:00 p.m.ET for Live video updates from the event with Bassmaster TV hosts Mark Zona, Tommy Sanders, and Jerry McKinnis. Elite Series: Hooked Up, the Bassmaster Elite Series Final Day pregame show, begins at 3:00 p.m. ET, followed immediately by the Final Day Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in where you can see who wins the $100,000 prize!