Collins Struggles On Opening Day
By: John N. Felsher
Of The Bassmaster Classic
TULSA, Okla. – With air temperatures hovering around 17 degrees and surface water temperatures about 39 degrees at launch time, Albert Collins and other anglers struggled to find fish during the opening day of the three-day 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
Collins, a plumber from Nacogdoches, Texas, holds 48th place out of 53 participating anglers going into the second day of competition during the Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees near Grove, Okla. Collins landed two keepers weighing 4 pounds, 15 ounces, five places ahead of defending champion Chris Lane.
“I tried a lot of different things, shallow and deep,” Collins admitted. “I started in an area where I felt I could catch a couple of keepers and caught one short fish. Then, I went to an area where I caught some good fish when pre-fishing and never had a bite. I thought as the sun was shining and the surface temperature was warming, fish might move up and feed, but it never happened.”
After two days of snow and icy rain, the sun came out on Feb. 22, the first day of the Classic. However, temperatures dropped as the cold front moved out of northeastern Oklahoma.
“I think the cold shocked the fish so they didn’t feed,” Collins explained. “The fish were suspended about 10 to 12 feet deep in 35 to 45 feet of water. I could see them on the depth finder. I tried two or three different things, but nothing. I went and tried some different things and caught two keepers and three short fish. I had about three more bites.”
Collins caught his fish on a shelf ledge with brush piles on it. Coming off the bank, the water dropped to about five feet deep and then sloped down to about nine feet deep before dropping into 45 feet of water.
“The fish were on the shelf,” the Bassmaster Weekend Series champion advised. “I caught my first keeper at about 10 a.m. and my second one about 45 minutes later. I was feeling good and thought I was on to something. I caught my fish on a Texas-rigged black neon craw worm in six to eight feet of water.”
Michael Iaconelli, 2003 Classic champion from Pittsgrove, N.J. and Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., tied for first place after one day of competition. Each brought in five bass weighing 21 pounds, 8 ounces. Pace caught two bass on a jig, two on a jerkbait and one on a crankbait.
Hank Cherry, a Classic rookie from Maiden, N.C., holds third with 20 pounds, 15 ounces. Four-time Classic champion Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., landed 19 pounds, 12 ounces. In fifth, Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., brought in 19 pounds, 10 ounces. Mark Pierce of Clarksville, Tenn. landed the biggest bass of Day 1, a 7-pound, 4-ounce largemouth. For complete results, see www.bassmaster.com/tournaments/2013-bassmaster-classic/leaderboard.
The action continues through Sunday, Feb. 24. Only the top 25 anglers advance to the third day of competition.
“On Day 2, I’m going to try some of the same stuff in different areas,” Collins revealed. “I found some fish in deeper areas. I have a lot of ground to make up, so I’m going to hit it hard, but I’m not out of this thing yet.”
Collins earned the right to fish in the Bassmaster Classic by winning the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, operated by American Bass Anglers, National Championship tournament, held at Lake Sam Rayburn near Jasper, Texas. The 46,500-acre Grand Lake stretches about 64 miles along Grand River, also called the Neosho River, in the Ozark Mountains of northeastern Oklahoma.