Only two anglers surpassed the 15-pound mark on day 1 of the Lake Norman Bassmaster Eastern Open as Patrick Walters (15-12) and Cody Pike (15-06) found themselves atop the 203-boat field.
Largemouth were the key for Walters rather than the more numerous spotted bass.
“The largemouth have really begun to show up the last two days,” said Walters, 23, a former FLW College Fishing champion. “Getting another big bite again (Friday) will be the difference between another good bag and an 8- or 9-pound limit.”
Walters said he’s rotating three styles of baits while fishing shallow boat docks. He had only one spotted bass in his limit. His largest bass weighed 5-7 and it was caught on a spawning bed.
Pike, 25, who manages an assisted living home, also keyed on largemouth. His biggest fish was just over 4 pounds.
“I got kind of lucky and caught all my weight in one area, so I didn’t have to put any pressure on any of the other areas I have,” Pike said. “I’m fishing shallow, dirty water, but it’s clearing up, so that could affect my bite.”
Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., took the lead for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award of the tournament with his 6-4 largemouth. It boosted him into 3rd with 14-9.
“I found that fish Wednesday in practice,” said Moynagh, a veteran pro. “It was in real shallow, murky water. The fish bit three times. It jumped off once when I had it halfway back to the boat. It probably took me 45 minutes to catch it.”
Moynagh is no stranger to Lake Norman. He has fished four FLW tournaments here and made the Top 10 in three, including a second-place finish in 2008.
Ronald Farrow of Rock Hill, S.C., fourth with 14-4, and Tyler Berger of Delaware, Ohio, fifth with 14-2, were the only other anglers to top 14 pounds.
Here's a look at the top 12 after day 1:
1. Patrick Walters: 15-12
2. Cody Pike: 15-06
3. James Moynagh: 14-09
4. Ronald Farrow: 14-04
5. Tyler Berger: 14-02
6. Wesley Strader: 13-13
7. Chris Lane: 13-06
8. Sam George: 13-03
9. Drew Montgomery: 12-14
10. Jason Wilson: 12-10
11. Alvin Shaw: 12-08
12. Cole Blythe: 12-06