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Posted By The Bass Hog

LEESBURG, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2017) – Florida bills itself as the “Fishing Capital of the World,” and the Harris Chain of Lakesis 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.

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.

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.

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.  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.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

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