We soaked up the action from day one of the biggest pro tournament of the year. Here's our recap from Friday's fishing in the 50th Bassmaster Classic.
To call the first session of the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk a "rough day on the water" would be an understatement.
Anglers battled cold wind and choppy conditions, which translated to a difficult attempt catching a five-fish limit, let alone the 30-pound bags Guntersville is known to hold.
But those who found them were able to establish their spots amongst the top of the leaderboard, and at the end of Day 1 Hank Cherry, Jr. is in first place with 29 pounds, 3 ounces. Halfway through the day, as reported by Bassmaster.com, Crews fell and injured his arm, bad enough to lead him to believe he may have broken it.
He continued through the pain and worked around the conditions that led him to change his approach from what he initially thought would bring him the catch.
"I didn't expect this at all," Cherry told Bassmaster. "What I caught my fish on was actually Plan B. But it's Plan A now, for sure."
Cherry caught most of his keepers on a bladed jig, which ended up being the right choice.
John Crews and Clent Davis are tied for second with 21 pounds, 8 ounces, and Brandon Lester's early monster helped him to 20 pounds, 15 ounces, good for fourth place.
Todd Auten, who caught the Berkley Big Bass for the day at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, earned a bag heavy enough to reach fifth place, in a tie with Micah Frazier at 20 pounds even.
The full leaderboard can be seen here, and even a cursory glance tells you the fishing wasn't easy by any means. In fact, 22 of the 53 competitors failed to catch a limit.
Many pros commented on the blown out conditions, and had to admit much of their successful spots and strategies found during practice rounds were basically washed out. The muddied waters cancelled out certain locations, and the extremely rough open channels made running long distances not only uncomfortable, but borderline dangerous.
I can attest to that, as the Media Boat I hopped in around 8:00 in the morning was nothing like the high-end bass boats owned and driven by the pros. A little age and a lot less technology made the boat even more susceptible to the white-capped waves, and getting soaked with cold water followed by whipping winds wasn't a joyful experience.
I'm just glad I wasn't trying to catch largemouths in the biggest bass fishing tournament in the world.
The fans were out in full force, and didn't let the chilly weather keep them from cheering on their favorites at Takeoff bright and early Friday morning. The free Expo and Weigh-In were well attended, and odds are they'll only attract more people as the weekend moves on and the tournament continues.
We'll have more from Alabama as well, so keep checking back with us here on the site and on our social media accounts as we cover the biggest event on the pro fishing calendar.