HUDDLESTON, Va. For many anglers during Thursday's opening round of the Evan Williams Bourbon Blue Ridge Brawl on Smith Mountain Lake, the difference between being near the top of leaderboard and languishing below the cut line was one fish.
There were those who got it, and plenty who didn't.
Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., got it, but he's not sure how he did.
While virtually everyone — including Lane — spent the day sight fishing for spawning and bedded bass, Lane duplicated a self-described brief but lucky departure fduring last season's event on Smith Mountain Lake to move into second place with a 21-pound, 7-ounce first-day stringer.
"Last year I only had 13 or 14 pounds, which wasn't all that horrible," Lane said. "Then I caught a 4.5- or 5-pounder just throwing a worm down the bank. This morning, I had caught a 3 1/2-pounder on the bed and for some reason picked the worm up, threw it out there and caught a 6-pounder. At least the luck is happening on the first day."
The luck wasn't so good for Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark.
"I had a 3-pounder that I snagged twice," said Rook, who is in 20th place at 15-15. "I let it go, came back an hour later, seen it, caught it and snagged it again. Then I spent about an hour on one this afternoon. Finally got it to bite, set the hook and I snagged it. So I had the opportunity to have a couple more pounds than what I did."
Luck and persistence paid off for Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., who is in third place after weighing in 19-13.
"At about 10:30, I pulled into place where I saw a fish yesterday and she was still there," he said. "There's a lot of luck involved with this. I messed around and caught the buck, then it took me three hours to catch the big female. It was a 6-pound fish and the chances of finding another 6-pound fish on this lake were not really good, so I stuck it out and stayed there until I got her."
Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., had luck of the opposite variety and sits in 45th place at 13-11.
"My kicker fish, I had it hooked outside the mouth and had to release it," said Davis, the 1995 Bassmasters Classic winner. "If I had that fish and the other four good ones I had, I would have a really good stringer. A 4- or 5-pounder here goes a long, long way. A 13-pound day is better than average, but it's not what you need."