The Walker Valley, N.Y. angler jumped to the first-day lead in the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #1 presented by AllState on Lake Toho with a whopping 31 pounds, 2 ounces.
The former construction worker, who built subway tunnels in New York before pursuing a pro fishing career, was aided by a pair of lunkers weighing 9-1 and 8-10. He had his big bag by 10:30 in the morning.
|Matching 9 pounders helped Slegona.|
Slegona said he was flipping hydrilla in 10 feet of water.
“The thing is, this is a morning spot and I hope they’re in there tomorrow (Friday), too,” he added.
Two-time Bassmaster Junior World Champion Joey Nania of Cropwell, Ala. came in in second with 25-1. Brandon McMillain of Clewiston, Fla. had 24-9, Garrett Rocamora of Lithia, Fla. 24-4 and Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn. 20-13.
Nania’s sack was even more impressive considering it also included a pair of scrawny one pounders, but was helped with bass weighing 8-3 and 8-12.
“I’ve always struggled here and had so many letdowns fishing in Florida, this really felt good,” Nania said. “I had been fishing fast, covering a lot of water, but when my co-angler caught a good one fishing slow, I decided to slow it down. That’s when I caught the 8-12 and figured it out.”
Daniel Lanier Jr. of Winter Springs, Fla. topped the co-angler division with three bass weighing 11-9. Craig Cullen of Vero Beach Fla. came in second with 11-4 and Steve Jarrett of Valrico, Fla. third with 11-2.
Rocamora set the bar for the Carhartt Big Bass prize with an 11-9 brute. Brock Mosely of Mississippi had second biggest bass at 9-15.
Despite the number of 8-pound-plus bass caught on Thursday, the overall weights were down. Fiftieth place was only 10-10. Cooling weather with overcast conditions hampered the bed fishing activities and, as some anglers said, the fish were scattered.
“The water is high and the fish are hard to pinpoint,” said Bassmaster Elite pro Terry Scroggins, who ened Day 1 in ninth place. “The sun is supposed to shine tomorrow and that will help position the fish in areas where we can catch ‘em better.”
The tournament will launch each day at 7 a.m. ET at Big Toho Marina. Weigh-ins will be held at 3 p.m. ET at the marina the first two days, with the final weigh-in on Day 3 held at the Bass Pro Shops in Orlando at 4 p.m.