It was a picture you see on postcards or the cover of a chamber of commerce booklet. With the sun rising behind some hazy fog over the eastern shoreline of the Bay of Green Bay, Lake Michigan was as still as a mirror on a wall.
It was an unexpected treat for the 98 anglers who launched out of Green Bay, Wis., today for the opening day of the Lake Michigan Bassmaster Elite Series. As expected, many of them took full advantage of the slick, calm conditions to run to the northern edge of the fishable portion of the Bay.
Aaron Martens, on a recent surge up the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year standings, has set the early pace with a 20-00 stringer. He holds a slim lead over Dean Rojas, who caught 19-14.
Todd Faircloth, who’s coming off a win last week at the Mississippi River and entered this event 2nd in the AOY race, is 3rd after catching 18-03. He’s trailed by Brandon Palaniuk in 4th with 18-00 and Matt Herren in 5th with 17-14.
Ever since the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) instituted a boundary that hemmed the field in the lower portion of the massive Bay, many figured the quality of fish carried to the scales wouldn’t be representative of the fishing that’s available there.
It may still be too early to tell if that’s the case, but it’s unlikely we’ll see today’s weights duplicated tomorrow or later in the derby merely because of the fishing pressure the best areas will get over the first 2 days of the event.
The slick conditions this morning opened the door for many pros to go shallow and target bedding smallmouth. They knew they had to as they may not get another chance to go bed-fishing on a Great Lake any time soon, especially this week.
Winds are expected to kick up out of the West and Southwest tomorrow with 3-foot waves in the marine forecast.
Faircloth’s strong start has allowed him to overtake Brent Chapman for the AOY points lead for the time being. Herren has jumped to 3rd in points, tightening the race even more. Chapman is 33rd after weighing 13-14 without fishing the big water today.
Randy Howell, who occupied 3rd in points, struggled today and is 68th with 9-08. After a major stumble at the Mississippi, David Walker, who’s been in the Top 5 in points virtually all season, weighed 17-13 today and sits in 6th.
After day 2, the Top 49 pros will advance to day 3. The top 12 following day 3 will advance to Sunday’s final when the winner will be determined by total cumulative weight.
2012 Elite Series Green Bay Challenge Lake Michigan