Fishing & Boating News

Robinson Grabs Day 1 Lead As Big Names Sack Big Bass At Southern Open On Florida's Harris Chain

by: JamieDay Matthews,

Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C., took the lead on Day 1 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #1. Robinson brought 23 Lbs, 11 ozs to the scales.
Photo by Ronnie Moore/Bassmaster
(Jan 19, 2017 - LEESBURG, FL)  Florida bills itself as the “Fishing Capital of the World,” and the Harris Chain of Lakes is one of its crown jewels.

On Thursday in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open No. 1, the acclaimed Florida fishery showed off a bit – for mid-January, at least.

From the time Alabama pro Deron Patrick started the 3 1/2-hour weigh-in with a 16-pound, 2-ounce limit, until the last of the field of 400 checked in, a steady stream of fish came across the stage. It made for an impressive display and for a momentous first day in the first Bassmaster tournament of the 2017 season.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C., had the heaviest bag among the 200 boating anglers, with five bass that weighed 23-11. The total gave him a narrow lead in the three-day tournament being held on this 80,000-acre network of lakes.

But he wasn’t the only one who was successful Thursday. Thirty-three pro anglers boated at least 15 pounds of bass, and eight of those bags weighed more than 20 pounds. Closest to Robinson are Hunter Shryock (second place, 22-1) and former Elite Series pro Ken Iyobe (third, 21-14). Others catching 20 pounds or more were fishing legend Paul Elias (fourth, 21-12); Justin Lucas (fifth, 21-11); Jordan Lee (sixth, 21-0); John Pollard (seventh, 20-11); and Chris Heath (eighth, 20-8).

A couple of options were available to the anglers Thursday, as both prespawn and bedding fish were located. Partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the low 80s and light winds made conditions similar to what the rest of the U.S. finds in spring.

Robinson had the right mix. His bag included two 6-pounders he caught sight fishing and three other sizable bass caught by other means later in the day. He said he’ll have to start someplace different Friday, because it’s likely the beds he hit Thursday won’t replenish in time for him to turn the trick on back-to-back days.

Still, being in the lead is a nice problem to have.

“I wasn’t sure I would be able to get to my big fish because of my draw (number 95 of 200 boats to launch this morning),” Robinson said. “But I was able to reach them in time, and the spots were pretty close together. I didn’t have to run far at all after I got the first one. That helped to be able put those two in the boat early.”

Shryock was one of the pros taking advantage of the near ideal conditions. Like Robinson, he caught
some big bass while sight fishing, and then lit into the rest of his limit in several different areas he found productive in practice. He was encouraged by what he saw Thursday.

“I didn’t get to go to the area I wanted to today, being in Boat 165,” Shryock said. “So I went to a backup area and it turned out to be better than I expected it to be. I was around a lot of activity and a lot of shallow fish.”

Lee, another Elite Series pro, weighed the biggest bass — a 9-4 monster which is the largest he’s ever caught. The catch came at about 10 a.m. when he only had a few small bass in the livewell.

“I was just pitching a worm around, and all of a sudden, line was coming off,” Lee said. “Then ‘Boom!’ I was shaking a little bit. You can’t help it when you catch one that big … It wasn’t bedding, so it was a bit of good fortune, for sure. I just went to an area where I had caught a few fish (in practice). But the rest of them were small. I’ll have to go back to work tomorrow.”

As will all 400 of the anglers in this event. They know they have to keep grinding, as all it takes is a couple of monster bass to vault someone from the back of the pack to a place among the leaders.

“I love coming to Florida this time of year to fish,” said Elite Series pro Chad Morganthaler, who was in 33rd place with a 15-1 total after Day 1. “When these fish are in the prespawn and spawn mode, you can make up a lot of ground in a hurry. I’m excited about getting out there tomorrow.”

The winner on the boater side will be awarded $51,400 in cash and prizes. The champ also will earn a berth into the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, provided he or she fishes in all of the three Southern Open events this year. On the co-angler side, Louisiana’s James Simmons is in first place with a three-fish limit of 12-15. Alabama’s Richard Arnold is in second with 11-3, and William Gaston is third with 10-14.

All 400 anglers and co-anglers will launch Friday from Venetian Gardens, 250 Ball Park Road, in Leesburg. The Day 2 weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. ET at Ski Beach Park on Lake Harris Drive, also in Venetian Gardens.

Saturday’s championship weigh-in, which will feature the Top 12 anglers after Day 2, will be held at Bass Pro Shops, 5156 International Drive, in Orlando beginning at 4:15 p.m. ET.
 
2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops

2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Premier Sponsors: Yamaha, Berkley, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury, Power-Pole, Shell Rotella, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats

2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: Livingston Lures, Lowrance, T-H Marine, Phoenix Boats, Shimano, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines, Bassmaster website , television show (The Bassmasters), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
 
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.