Rusty Salewske of Alpine, Calif. weighed a 26-10 sack to take the early lead in the FLW Pro Circuit event at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida. He holds a 2-ounce lead over 2nd-place Miles Burghoff, with the rest of the 154-angler field more than 4 pounds back.
“Today was an amazing day,” said Salewske, who is fishing in his first season back at FLW’s top-level circuit since 2011. “I’m fishing an area – I call it offshore, but it’s not a long way offshore. I found the spot during the first day of practice and caught 15 fish there – a 6-pounder, two 4-pounders and a bunch of little ones. The next two days there, I shook every fish off.
“I’m not a Florida guy and I don’t really know this place well enough to know exactly what they’re doing, but I think it is a staging area,” Salewske continued. “I had seven quality fish there today, and around 8:30 I culled out a 3-pounder with a 4-pounder and decided I needed to leave. I don’t know if there are more there, or if a school just swam up, or if they’re staging there. But I’ll find out tomorrow.”
Salewske said his key area was about 200 feet off the bank. His most effective baits were dark-colored Zoom Speed Worms, Zoom Trick Worms and a Zoom Brush Hog.
“After 8:30, I spent the day practicing and I found a secondary pattern that was working for me,” Salewske said. “I had four spots coming into this event that I thought could be good, but I only fished one today. Now, if those four are no good, I’ve got another pattern that I can run and I’m excited about that. You’ve got to be around fish to get bit – and I know I’m around them – so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Here are the numbers for the initial top 10:
1. Rusty Salewske: 26-10
2. Miles Burghoff: 26-08
3. Jared McMillan: 22-01
4. Grae Buck: 21-07
5. Robert Nakatomi: 21-05
6. Kyle Gelles: 21-03
7. Jimmy Washam: 20-00
8. Tim Frederick: 19-09
9. Joshua Weaver: 19-07
10. Erik Luzak: 18-01
Jason Meninger took big-bass honors for the day with an 8-09.