BUFFALO — An hour before launch on Day One, the majority of the Elite Series pros had launched their boats and scooped up their co-anglers with plenty of time to spare.
However, that was Day One — before each vessel in the field would spend close to eight hours smashing and crashing through 6-foot rollers out in the sea more commonly known as Lake Erie.
During Friday's Day Two launch of the Empire Chase presented by Farmer's Insurance the pros, co-anglers and even BASS officials moved noticeably slower. Regardless of an angler's age, sore bodies gingerly went about their morning routines while thoughts turned to what terrifying conditions the lake might offer on the day.
"Whoever said they weren't sore fished in the river yesterday," Elite Series pro Marty Stone said while struggling to touch his toes and stretch his hamstrings.
Dockside chatter remained at a minimum as stretching and relaxing became more abundant. And by the time the first flight had queued up along the dock for the signal to leave the marina, a few boats were still in the process of launching.
A long shower for Peter Thliveros helped the angler get ready to face Day Two.
"I was slow this morning, but the hot water helped," he said.
Thliveros, who had back surgery in 1990 to repair a blown out disc, explained how Day One's jostling also caused tightness throughout his entire body. Simply sitting at dinner the previous night had caused his hamstrings to tighten up sufficiently he had trouble simply rising from the table.
"The back will still go out occasionally, or if I turn the wrong way," Thliveros said. He said he hopes to avoid those hard impacts which twist and rattle a boat's occupants.
Backs pay the biggest price when battling whitecaps on the Great Lakes and many anglers have experienced the cumulative effects of damaging rides over the years.
"It's probably the most common injury in our sport," Davy Hite said. "But I've been really lucky. I've had no issues whatsoever."
Zell Rowland, who underwent the knife to remove a detached part of disc that had chipped away a few years ago, enjoyed his quiet time waiting for his co-angler.
"The back feels really good," Rowland said in an uplifting tone. "The same surgeon that did Denny's (Brauer) did mine — and it came out really well."
The veteran angler paused to adjust his life vest, then whispered the following:
"But being 51 (years of age), even if I hadn't had the surgery, I'd be sore after yesterday anyway."
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Empire Chase with weigh-in host Keith Alan, July 31-Aug. 3, 2008. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, catch "Bassmaster University" at 4:15 p.m. ET before the weigh-in. Then on Sunday, get "Hooked Up" with hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona at 1 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. ET, with the final day weigh-in and real-time leaderboard content starting at 5:00 p.m. ET.