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Saturday, June 30, 2018
2018 Bassmaster Elite Lake Oahe Day 1: David Fritts Jumps into Lead!
Wind swept Oahe tougher
The legend Fritts still has it! (Photo: BASS)
The mystery of South Dakota’s smallmouth was solved by Elite Series pro David Fritts during the first day of the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe presented by Abu Garcia. The 1993 Bassmaster Classic champion caught a 19-pound, 7-ounce limit of smallmouth to best the 107-angler field on a body of water that he had never seen before, while battling 4-foot waves.
“Man, I should have had 23 pounds today,” the tournament leader lamented. “I had three giants jump off this morning that would have really improved my weight. But I’m really happy with what I caught.”
The North Carolina veteran found his pattern during the waning hours of the final practice day.
“I was pretty frustrated until about the last hour of practice, when I stumbled on this little deal. It involves a pretty specific structure and Berkley bait combo, so I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to duplicate this tomorrow,” he said. “I didn’t sit there and burn up a bunch of fish.”
Making Fritts’ catch even more impressive was the fact that he fought through massive waves to land his limit, which made not only the fishing tougher, but also negatively affected the school he had found.
“The wind killed me today. Really, it blew out some of my best stuff and made it just so difficult to make precise casts and then to fight fish that are hooked. If it lays down tomorrow, it will probably be better for everyone.”
In addition to leading the tournament, Fritts also weighed in the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the day. The 4-11 smallmouth was the first bass he caught this morning. If that fish holds on as big bass for the next three days, Fritts will earn $1,500.
Mark Daniels Jr. landed 18-12 to take the second place spot after the scales closed on Day 1. “I had a pretty good practice, but didn’t think I had found an 18-pound limit. So, I’m pretty jacked,” Daniels said. “The wind was brutal. There were easy 5-footers out there, and I ran 50 miles north. But, it looks like the effort was worth it.”
His effort included targeting fish that were both shallow and deep, but he declined to offer more details until after the tournament concludes.
“Although there are a ton of fish in this lake, it seems like they are in very specific areas. So, you can’t just run down the bank and catch ’em. I’m thinking my area has the fish to duplicate today’s weight, but I’m not sure how it would hold up to three or four days of pressure.”
Reigning Bassmaster Classic Champion Jordan Lee sits in the third place spot just a few ounces behind Daniels. Lee weighing in 18-9.
“I caught all the fish on a little spot I found in practice, and it wasn’t all that good, but it was the best thing I found. Today, the conditions really changed, and the wind blew and that spot got better. But, conditions will change again tomorrow and I don’t know what those fish might do,” Lee admitted. “I hope they stay there and bite again.”
Rounding out the Top 6 for Day 1 are Josh Bertrand, 18-8; Justin Lucas, 17-5; and Casey Ashley, 17-0.
This marks the first time for B.A.S.S. — the world’s largest fishing organization — to hold a professional bass tournament on the massive, 370,000-acre impoundment of the Missouri River.
Daily takeoffs will occur each competition day at 6 a.m. CT from the Spring Creek Resort & Marina, and weigh-ins will be held at Steamboat Park in Pierre at 3:45 p.m.
The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo will be held in conjunction with the tournament. The Expo will take place at Steamboat Park on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon. The expo will feature boat demo rides, an aquarium, free prizes and the latest fishing products on the market. All activities are free and open to the public. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.