GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. Frank Scalish's watch was giving him problems Friday. But in the end, it was his attention span that did him in.
A watch glitch shouldn't have been an issue. His global positioning system has a clock, and his co-angler had a watch, so all he had to do was check the time every 10 minutes or so. But he got tied up with this and that, running different spots and yanking fish out of Lake Guntersville, and when he finally got around to checking the clock, he realized he should have been at the dock two minutes earlier.
Fortunately, he was only eight minutes away. Not that it mattered much; with the 10-minute delay, he incurred a 10-pound penalty, busting his 15 pound, 9 ounce bag down to 5-9, and dropping Scalish from a top-35 perch well out of the money in the Southern Challenge presented by Purolator.
"It was a good ride," he said of that return flight, "but at that point, I knew I was screwed."
As disappointed as he was, Scalish at least kept his sense of humor.
"Print, 'Uh-oh,'" he said. "And write that my new theme song is gonna be Cher, 'If I Could Turn Back Time.'"
If Scalish actually does work up the courage to cross the weigh-in stage to Cher, it says right here that ESPNOutdoors.com will pitch in and get the man a new watch.
Water under the bridge
If the Bassmaster Elite Series pros were miffed about BASS officials' decision to scrap the first day of competition in the face of ominous forecasts Thursday, they issued no trace of criticism publicly.
"If that storm, the major part of it had come through here, someone would have gotten hurt," Lee Bailey said on-stage in thanking BASS.
"There's no need in taking chances on anybody's life out here," Jeff Reynolds echoed later in the afternoon.
Officials called off the day at around 5 a.m., about an hour before 216 men would have driven up the lake at 70 mph in steady rain. Their concern was that the system would turn from mere rain to violent storms later in the day.
From downtown Guntersville, the weather Thursday looked pristine after about 9 a.m. But at around 4:45 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for an area in northern Alabama that included Marshall County, which contains Guntersville.
"People were expecting it to be a little earlier," Michael Richter, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Huntsville, Ala., said at 5 p.m. Thursday. "It has taken a full day of sunshine to get things hot enough to get things unstable enough.
"If you would have spoken to me an hour ago, I would have second-guessed it myself. I think their decision, especially now, is totally justified."
Saturday's forecast calls for a chance of thunderstorms. But Friday – Friday was gorgeous, cool, and breezy.
"The weather was awesome," Terry Scroggins said at Friday's weigh-in. "I wanted a little wind and a little bit of cloud cover, and we had that today."
Most of the Elite Series anglers stay backstage for a few moments after they weigh in. They talk among themselves, with sponsors, media and with each other. But after Friday's weigh-in at Guntersville High School, one notable angler made a quick exit.
That was Michael Iaconelli the reigning Angler of the Year and the tournament's defending champion. Ike was clearly disappointed as he waited to go on stage and his catch Friday showed why. Iaconelli caught only four fish and the bag weighed 10 pounds, 13 ounces. He'll start the second day of his title defense from 82nd place.
Thursday's showers probably did affect at least one angler Friday. Electrical problems, brought on perhaps by soaking outside for a full day, crippled Bernie Schultz' boat Friday morning.
A passel of technicians from Lowrance, Mercury and Ranger descended on the boat and whipped it into shape. Schultz lost an hour of fishing, but managed to catch 13-6, good for 57th place.
Editor's Note: Sunday, April 29, ESPNOutdoors.com will be having LIVE Video coverage of the Southern Challenge presented by Purolator throughout the entire day. Check in at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. ET for Live video updates from the event with Bassmaster TV hosts Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders. Elite Series: Hooked Up, the Bassmaster Elite Series Final Day pregame show, begins at 3 p.m. ET, followed immediately by the Final Day Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in where you can see who wins the $100,000 prize!