April 15, 2004 by Rob Newell
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - BFL All-American anglers had trouble pinpointing exactly what stage of the spawn bass were in on Lake Hamilton Thursday. Some caught them deep, some caught them shallow, and some caught them in between.
In that in between category is Shayne Berlo of Vienna, Va., who leads the 2004 All-American with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 1 ounce - a mere 3 ounces ahead of second place.
Berlo skipped docks on Lake Hamilton today and caught nine keepers.
"The wind really hurt me today," said Berlo. "I'm skipping a 1/2-ounce jig under docks, and, when the wind blows, it causes little waves on the surface, which makes skipping back under the docks much more difficult."
Berlo says he saved a good bit of his water for tomorrow.
"I've still got a few areas I haven't fished yet, and, if the wind lays just a little, I should be able to get to them tomorrow," he added.
Schafer in second
Also fishing a dock pattern is Mark Schafer of Williamstown, N.J., who is in second with five fish weighing 11 pounds, 14 ounces.
"I'm fishing a stretch of deeper docks that no one else is fishing," said Schafer. "There are a lot of fish in this area; between my partner and I, we probably caught 25 to 30 keepers. I don't want to say what we caught them on just yet, but I think the bait is a big key, too."
Lefebre in third
Fresh off an FLW Tour win at Old Hickory, Kellogg's pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., holds down third with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces.
Lefebre represents the shallow end of the spectrum as he is sight-fishing for visible bass with a Kinami Norie's Bug.
"I had about 35 beds marked that I found yesterday, and I caught about 10 of those today," said Lefebre. "I've got some fish left, and I still have several places I didn't go to today."
Lefebre feels confident he can catch more tomorrow.
"I had some that I missed, and I think they will bite again tomorrow," he said. "Plus, I think more fish are moving up. I watched some come in and start scratching out little places in the sand that will probably be beds tomorrow."
Wright in fourth
On the deep end of things is renowned crankbait expert David Wright of Lexington, N.C. He weighed in five bass for 10 pounds, 10 ounces to take fourth place.
"I jumped off a good one today that might haunt me," said Wright. "But that's the way crankbait fishing is: Sometimes they come unbuttoned."
Wright is fishing deep-water brush piles with a crankbait and throwing a Texas-rigged Zoom Mag II worm.
"There are not a whole a lot of fish offshore," he said. "I only caught eight keepers today. But apparently they're not catching big ones off the bank like I thought they would. So that gives me a little more confidence in what I'm doing."
Hinson in fifth
Donald Hinson of Lugoff, S.C., holds down the fifth spot with 10 pounds, 9 ounces. With just a pound and a half separating the top five places, this race promises to get tighter tomorrow.
Rest of the best
After day one the top-10 cut is 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Those inside that precarious mark are Tony Wilson of Barbourville, Ky., in sixth with 10 pounds, 6 ounces; Mike Cooper of Branson, Mo., in seventh with 10 pounds, 1 ounce; John Devere of Berea, Ky., in eighth with 9 pounds, 15 ounces; Charles Cummings of Leeds, Ala., in ninth with 9 pounds, 7 ounces; and Wes Endicott of Joplin, Mo., in 10th with 9 pounds, 6 ounces.
Boatright leads co-anglers
Scott Boatright of Sheridan, Ark., leads the Co-angler Division in the 2004 BFL All-American with five fish weighing 10 pounds, 6 ounces.
Boatright fished with boater Mark Schafer (in second) today and used the same undisclosed dock-fishing technique as Schafer to catch his bass.
"I probably caught about 10 keepers," said Boatright. "I feel really good about the technique I'm using, and my partner tomorrow is going to fish the same way Mark was fishing today, so I feel pretty good about it."
Unlike the Pro Division, where 3 ounces separates first and second, Boatright enjoys a pound and a half margin over second in the Co-angler Division.
The co-anglers fish only one more day, so if Boatright can hold off any hard charges from his competitors tomorrow, he just might take home the $50,000 co-angler top prize.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Aaron McManaway of Altamont, Ill., in second with 8 pounds, 15 ounces; Bill Schroeder of Jonesville, Mich., in third with 6 pounds, 13 ounces; Bo Price of Seneca, S.C., in fourth place with 5 pounds, 3 ounces; and Brent Sain of Manchester, Tenn., in fifth with 5 pounds even.
2004 BFL All-American action resumes tomorrow at the Fish Hatchery ramp at 7 a.m. CT.