UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

A Box full of fish

A Box full of fish
Kelly Box took the opening-day overall lead of the TBF Central Divisional on Francis Case Reservoir.

LAKE ANDES, S.D. - The Bass Federation Central Divisional finally kicked off today on South Dakota's Francis Case Reservoir, one day after the scheduled venue of Lewis and Clark Lake was declared unfit for tournament fishing by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers due to fluctuating water levels. Luckily for competitors, Francis Case proved to be an able tournament body today, and Arkansas' Kelly Box leads the way after day one with a five-bass catch weighing 10 pounds, 7 ounces.

Eight states - Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Mississippi and Louisiana - each sent 12 competitors to this week's Central Divisional to determine the lucky 16 that will advance to the 2009 TBF National Championship. The No. 1 finisher from each state team will go on to the nationals as a boater, while the runner-up contender from each state team will advance in the co-angler slot.

Therefore, the competition this week is really among the 12 members of each state team, but the overall contest counts too - the competitor with the heaviest three-day catch at the end of the tournament wins $500 as the Castrol Maximum Performer. Half of the state's 12 contenders are competing as boaters, with the other half competing as nonboaters. The top three state teams will be awarded trophies and cash prizes.

Box holds on to a slim 8-ounce lead on the overall list, followed closely by Missouri's Marion Halbersma, who caught 9-15 on day one to lead his state team. Box leads the Arkansas contingency by 1 pound, 9 ounces.

For Box, finding enough fish to land atop the leaderboard didn't involve a long run, a significant fact given that he had over 100,000 acres of reservoir to fish. In fact, he said most of his tournament-leading bass came fairly close to the tournament launch site. Today, Francis Case surrendered eight keepers to Box, and he caught most of them on a jighead worm. Should he find himself the winner on Friday, he would be in familiar territory.

"This is my first (divisional) tournament," Box said. "I got here by winning my state's tournament with a two-day total of 37 pounds."

In the No. 2 spot overall and first on the Missouri team is Marion Halbersma of Ozark, Mo. Halbersma's 9-15 day-one catch has him leading his state team by 13 ounces.

Cartlidge downright presidential

TBF President Robert Cartlidge took third on the overall leaderboard and first on the Oklahoma squad with a day-one catch of 9-9.Taking first on the Oklahoma team and third overall is a big name in the TBF universe, national president Robert Cartlidge of Ponca City, Okla. Cartlidge proved he can walk the walk today, bringing in 9 pounds, 9 ounces to lead the Oklahoma team by 9 ounces.

Working in Cartlidge's favor is the weather conditions around Francis Case. Strong storms were predicted to pound the area, but the anglers were rewarded with sunny, still conditions that aided the sight-fishing bite. Cartlidge, who describes himself as "not a clear-water guy," could have been at a disadvantage fishing Francis Case's relatively clean water, but he managed to find some dirty stuff that yielded 15 keepers.

"Yesterday the clouds had the fish moving around, and today when the sun came out, it had the fish staying in their beds," Cartlidge said.

Cartlidge credits topwater lures for his day-one smallmouth bite.

Behind Cartlidge on the overall list in fourth is Jerry Necaise of Long Beach, Miss. Necaise leads the Mississippi team by a 2-pound, 12-ounce margin.

Otte, Baird take state leads

Jason Baird leads the Kansas team with a day-one catch of 9 pounds.Leading the Nebraska team by 2 pounds, 1 ounce is the No. 6 angler overall, Miles Otte of Wahoo, Neb. Another state tournament winner, Otte excelled beneath today's sunny skies despite a preference for the clouds. His haul weighed in at 9 pounds, 1 ounce.

Behind Otte on the overall list in seventh is Kansas leader Jason Baird. He fished topwaters all day and says the weather impeded his fishing, but not the bright sunshine. In fact, it was the early morning rainshower that preceded today's launch that he says moved the fish around. Nevertheless, he still caught enough to lead the Kansas team by 12 ounces.

Roehr, Williford round out state leaders

Tops in Texas after day one is Paul Roehr of Grand Prairie, Texas, with an 8-pound, 11-ounce catch that put him 11th overall and gave him a 9-ounce lead on the Texas team. Randy Williford of Atlanta, La., leads the Louisiana team by 1 pound, 7 ounces thanks to his day-one limit of 8 pounds, 5 ounces.
A look at Francis Case Reservoir, site of this week
Oklahoma leads race among the states

Cash prizes are awarded to the top three states based on their team members' total weight throughout the tournament, and after day one, Oklahoma sits on top with 85 pounds, 10 ounces. Arkansas sits close behind them with 85-2, and Missouri trails in third with 73-12.

Competition continues tomorrow

Central Divisional competitors will resume competition tomorrow on Francis Case Reservoir with a 7 a.m. launch from the North Point Recreation Area in Lake Andes. Tomorrow's weigh-in will also be held there beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2008-06-04-francis-case-reservoir 

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