John Crews (currently in 13th) lists weightlifting as one of his hobbies, and it's a good thing that he spent some of the offseason pursuing that passion.
With no direct path from his docked boat to the weigh-in line and 23 pounds of fish and numerous gallons of water in his bag, he had to stop, put the bag down and rest several times. For the other slightly-built Elite Series competitors the walk to the tanks was an equally arduous task.
Morizo Shimizu (19th, 21-11) looked like he was going to topple over under the weight of his bag. Randy Howell (29th, 20-03), who can't weigh more than 150 pounds soaking wet, put it best: "What a walk when you ain't got no muscles."
Mike Iaconelli (11th, 23-03) said that current often triggers the fish on Kentucky Lake to feed, but the other key to his ledge bite was finding the mussel beds that held the bigger fish.
During practice he "used a crankbait to make thousands of casts to 'feel the rough,' and that's the mussel beds."
Most of the best such spots are "about the size of a bass boat," he said, and the bass typically set up on the corners to take advantage of the flowing water.
Steve Kennedy caught his two best fish on the same cast today. He was so impressed with the feat that he actually took time out of his fishing day to take a picture of both fish attached to the crankbait with his mobile phone.
He'd taken a similar picture during the practice period, but "that phone is now on the bottom of the lake."
On his next cast he again hooked two fish, a 4-pounder and a smaller one, but the larger specimen got off. He threw out a third time and had another 4-pounder strike, but it too escaped.
"And then it was done," he said.
Is it possible to catch a limit of fish in three casts?
"I almost did that today," Kennedy said.
Most of the field headed out this morning with a similar array of crankbaits, spoons, worms and jigs tied to their rods, but Skeet Reese believes that the crankbait he used to amass his 25-15 limit may give him an edge.
"I fished side-by-side with (Tommy) Biffle and he was trying to snag my line to see what crankbait I was throwing," Reese said.
For the record, Biffle is in 76th place with 13-12, 70 places behind Reese and his special diving lure.
"When it's hot out there it's tiring. I guess I'm getting old." — Kevin VanDam, who used a butt seat today. He typically does not have a seat on the front deck of his boat.
"Current doesn't matter to me. The best day of practice I had was the first day and they didn't pull any water." — Jeff Kriet
"Current is everything." — Russ Lane
"At one point in the day they weren't hitting the bait very well and I was catching them all on the back hook. I lost a couple of big ones." — Britt Myers
"This is the biggest bag I've ever caught here so I'm stoked." — Skeet Reese
"I caught exactly 300 fish today. My partner was keeping track. He said I had 57 keepers." — Brent Chapman
"I was buffoonery at its best today." — Byron Velvick, who had motor, trolling motor and electronics problems during the competition day. He also nearly lost a rod overboard while landing a fish. He still somehow managed to weigh in over 27 pounds and is currently in third place.
"Bobby (Lane) and I were close. He just got the big bites. I watched him catch some of his big fish. When they pull water, you have to be in the right place at the right time." — Mark Burgess, currently in 80th place with 12-10.