By BassFan Staff

John Murray felt like the calendar had been turned back an entire decade.

"It was almost 10 years ago to the day that I caught a 19 1/2-pound bag of spots here," the veteran from Arizona said after snatching the day-1 lead at the Alabama River Bassmaster Elite Series with an 18-09 stringer. "I knew those kind of fish were in here, but I hadn't seen them in practice."

Current was raging through the Alabama during that 2003 Bassmaster Tour event, just like it is now. The big difference was the weather it rained back then, whereas today featured bright sunshine.

That massive sack comprised most of Murray's weight for that '03 event, at which he finished 13th. He's in prime position to surpass that placement, but it won't be easy if the river's spotted bass continue to bite like they did today, as nearly everyone will continue to catch them.

Paul Elias and Jason Williamson each caught 18-04 to share 2nd place, and Bobby Lane and Angler of the Year (AOY) leader Edwin Evers both bagged 17-15 to divvy up 4th.

Here's a look at the initial Top 12, with deficit margins from the leader indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. John Murray: 18-09
2. (tie) Paul Elias: 18-04 (0-05)
2. (tie) Jason Williamson: 18-04 (0-05)
4. (tie) Bobby Lane: 17-15 (0-10)
4. (tie) Edwin Evers: 17-15 (0-10)
6. Brent Chapman: 17-12 (0-13)
7. (tie) Shaw Grigsby: 17-07 (1-02)
7. (tie) Kelley Jaye: 17-07 (1-02)
9. Mike Iaconelli: 17-05 (1-04)
10. (tie) Randy Howell: 17-00 (1-09)
10. (tie) J. Todd Tucker: 17-00 (1-09)
12. Mike McClelland: 16-11 (1-14)

Spotted bass completely dominated the day, as was anticipated due to the high, fast-moving water that the species prefers. Just 10 competitors in the 100-angler field failed to bring a limit to the scale.

The bite is far superior to what it was for last week's event at West Point Lake, but weights are likely to remain ultra-tight, just as they did in that derby. The Top 25 are all within 3 pounds of the lead and the next 25 are all less than 6 pounds out.

A change in the weather pattern is in store for day 2 as the forecast for the Montgomery, Ala. area predicts isolated thunderstorms. The temperature should top out at 81 degrees with a southerly wind to 10 mph.

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Paul Elias caught most of his 18-04 stringer off of one spot.

The field will be cut to the Top 50 after tomorrow's weigh-in, and then to the Top 12 the following day. The winner will be determined Sunday based on cumulative weight.

Murray Exceeded Expectations

> Day 1: 5, 18-09

Murray said he had no inkling that he would have such a good day.

"I was quite a bit surprised," he said. "I think the sun helped position them where I needed them to be and it was one of those days when I made all the right decisions."

He had a limit by 9 o'clock and had compiled all of his weight by noon. He caught 15 spots on the day and his sack consisted of three 4-pounders and two that were a little over 3.

"It didn't really look like it was going to be a great fishing day with no conditions, but man, they bit for awhile. Then they just stopped I don't think I boated a fish in the afternoon."

He doesn't realistically expect to repeat today's number on day 2.

"That big of a bag, it would be pretty amazing. If I can get 15 pounds or so, I'd take that and move on to Saturday."

2nd (tie): No Giants for Elias

> Day 1: 5, 18-04

Elias, back at the site of his 1982 Classic win, sacked more than 18 pounds despite not having a fish that cracked the 4-pound mark.

"They were just all solid 3 1/2- to 3 3/4-pounders," he said. "I caught most of them off one spot and then I ran around a culled a couple of times.

He said he had an excellent practice.

"I had about 20 pounds the first day we were here. I've got a pretty solid pattern going."

He went through about 15 keepers on the day and didn't lose any that would've helped him. He's in the final flight for day 2 and how he fares might depend on whether he can access his best spot.

"I had one angler who kind of hassled me in there so I really don't know what's going to happen. I'd be real confident if I knew I could have that spot, but that's probably not going to be the case. I might just have to go around and hope they're on some of the places they weren't on today."

2nd (tie): Williamson was Isolated

> Day 1: 5, 18-04

Unlike the majority of the field, Williamson had most of his primary stuff to himself.

"To be honest, I didn't have a very good practice," he said. "I found a couple areas that were a little out of the way that I felt like wouldn't get beaten to death, and I caught a couple decent ones there and a lot of little ones.

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

A late boat number didn't hinder Jason Williamson on day 1.

"I felt like if I could catch five 13-inchers and then cull a couple of them out with 3- to 4-pounders, I'd have 13 or 14 pounds and be in decent shape. My timing was right and I got to fish what I wanted, even though I was boat (No.) 86. I've got an area that not a lot of guys are fishing, and that's pretty key to what's going on."

He boated somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 keepers, including one that was well over 4 pounds.

"I fished a pretty clean day, but I did lose one that I would've liked to have seen. It felt like one of the better ones."

4th (tie): Lane Underestimated Bag

> Day 1: 5, 17-15

As a Floridian, Lane isn't real familiar with spotted bass and the biggest ones he caught today weighed considerably more than he thought.

"I had no idea I had 18 pounds I thought I had between 14 and 15," he said. "It was fun. This is a great fishery and I don't get to fish for spotted bass of this size, ever. That's surely why I underestimated them."

He handled about 30 keepers and the five best were all in the 3 1/2-pound class. He spent most of the day fishing around Elias and Grigsby, who weighed similar bags.

"I caught them doing all kinds of stuff. I made a long run this morning and caught two nice ones, but I got my bigger ones later in the day close to the ramp.

"I'm hoping we didn't hurt them too much, but it all depends on if they're going to reload. If they do, that'll be great. If not, I'll have to go work them up somewhere else."

95th: All 12-Inchers for Ponds

> Day 1: 5, 5-00

Pete Ponds, the 3rd-place finisher last week at West Point, had a solid practice and was mystified as to why he managed to catch only five fish that barely met the minimum-length requirement.

"I had at least one 17-pound day in practice and I did the same stuff today," he said. "I'm still scratching my head because I just don't know what the difference was. What I'm doing is a big-fish deal and I don't know how I could've caught five 12-inchers doing it.

"I landed every bite I got, but I just didn't have any opportunities for big ones. I think I just had a bad day and got unfortunate and got the wrong bites."

Now he must determine whether to continue doing what worked in practice or scrap everything and start over.

"I'll have to sleep on it and decide I may just go out like its practice again tomorrow. It's just frustrating."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 100 anglers, 90 limits, 3 fours, 5 threes, 1 one, 1 zero.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., May 10 Isolated T-Storms - 81/67
- Wind: From the S at 10 mph

> Sat., May 11 Scattered T-Storms - 79/63
- Wind: From the W/SW at 7 mph

> Sun., May 12 Scattered Showers - 80/51
- Wind: From the N/NW at 8 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. John Murray -- Phoenix, AZ -- 5, 18-09 -- 100
Day 1: 5 -- 18-09

2. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 5, 18-04 -- 99
Day 1: 5 -- 18-04

2. Jason Williamson -- Aiken, SC -- 5, 18-04 -- 99
Day 1: 5 -- 18-04

4. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 5, 17-15 -- 97
Day 1: 5 -- 17-15

5. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 5, 17-15 -- 96
Day 1: 5 -- 17-15

6. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 5, 17-12 -- 95
Day 1: 5 -- 17-12

7. Shaw E Grigsby Jr. -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 17-07 -- 94
Day 1: 5 -- 17-07

7. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 5, 17-07 -- 94
Day 1: 5 -- 17-07

9. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 5, 17-05 -- 92
Day 1: 5 -- 17-05

10. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 5, 17-00 -- 91
Day 1: 5 -- 17-00

10. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, GA -- 5, 17-00 -- 91
Day 1: 5 -- 17-00

12. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 5, 16-11 -- 89
Day 1: 5 -- 16-11

13. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 16-10 -- 88
Day 1: 5 -- 16-10

14. Alton Jones -- Lorena, TX -- 5, 16-06 -- 87
Day 1: 5 -- 16-06

14. Kevin Ledoux -- Choctaw, OK -- 5, 16-06 -- 87
Day 1: 5 -- 16-06

16. Casey Scanlon -- Lenexa, KS -- 5, 16-05 -- 85
Day 1: 5 -- 16-05

17. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 16-03 -- 84
Day 1: 5 -- 16-03

18. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 5, 16-02 -- 83
Day 1: 5 -- 16-02

19. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 5, 16-00 -- 82
Day 1: 5 -- 16-00

20. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 5, 15-15 -- 81
Day 1: 5 -- 15-15

21. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, SC -- 5, 15-14 -- 80
Day 1: 5 -- 15-14

22. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 15-12 -- 79
Day 1: 5 -- 15-12

23. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 15-11 -- 78
Day 1: 5 -- 15-11

23. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 5, 15-11 -- 78
Day 1: 5 -- 15-11

25. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 5, 15-09 -- 76
Day 1: 5 -- 15-09

26. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 5, 15-04 -- 75
Day 1: 5 -- 15-04

27. Hank Cherry -- Maiden, NC -- 5, 15-02 -- 74
Day 1: 5 -- 15-02

27. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 15-02 -- 74
Day 1: 5 -- 15-02

29. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 15-01 -- 72
Day 1: 5 -- 15-01

30. Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, OK -- 5, 15-00 -- 71
Day 1: 5 -- 15-00

31. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, TX -- 5, 14-11 -- 70
Day 1: 5 -- 14-11

32. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 5, 14-09 -- 69
Day 1: 5 -- 14-09

32. Chris Zaldain -- San Jose, CA -- 5, 14-09 -- 69
Day 1: 5 -- 14-09

34. Jami Fralick -- Martin, SD -- 5, 14-07 -- 67
Day 1: 5 -- 14-07

35. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 5, 14-03 -- 66
Day 1: 5 -- 14-03

36. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 5, 14-02 -- 65
Day 1: 5 -- 14-02

37. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 5, 14-00 -- 64
Day 1: 5 -- 14-00

38. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 5, 13-15 -- 63
Day 1: 5 -- 13-15

39. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 5, 13-14 -- 62
Day 1: 5 -- 13-14

40. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 5, 13-12 -- 61
Day 1: 5 -- 13-12

41. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 5, 13-10 -- 60
Day 1: 5 -- 13-10

42. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 5, 13-06 -- 59
Day 1: 5 -- 13-06

42. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 13-06 -- 59
Day 1: 5 -- 13-06

44. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, AR -- 5, 13-04 -- 57
Day 1: 5 -- 13-04

45. Jared Miller -- Norman, OK -- 5, 13-03 -- 56
Day 1: 5 -- 13-03

46. Boyd Duckett -- Demopolis, AL -- 5, 13-02 -- 55
Day 1: 5 -- 13-02

46. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 5, 13-02 -- 55
Day 1: 5 -- 13-02

48. Kelly Jordon -- Palestine, TX -- 5, 13-00 -- 53
Day 1: 5 -- 13-00

49. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 5, 12-14 -- 52
Day 1: 5 -- 12-14

49. Morizo Shimizu -- Osaka, Japan -- 5, 12-14 -- 52
Day 1: 5 -- 12-14

51. Chad Pipkens -- Holt, MI -- 5, 12-10 -- 50
Day 1: 5 -- 12-10

52. Jeremy Starks -- Scott Depot, WV -- 5, 12-08 -- 49
Day 1: 5 -- 12-08

53. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 12-07 -- 48
Day 1: 5 -- 12-07

54. Casey D Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 5, 12-03 -- 47
Day 1: 5 -- 12-03

54. John Crews -- Salem, VA -- 5, 12-03 -- 47
Day 1: 5 -- 12-03

54. Kurt Dove -- Del Rio, TX -- 5, 12-03 -- 47
Day 1: 5 -- 12-03

57. Kevin Hawk -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 12-02 -- 44
Day 1: 5 -- 12-02

58. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 5, 12-01 -- 43
Day 1: 5 -- 12-01

59. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 5, 11-14 -- 42
Day 1: 5 -- 11-14

60. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 5, 11-09 -- 41
Day 1: 5 -- 11-09

61. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 5, 11-08 -- 40
Day 1: 5 -- 11-08

62. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 5, 11-07 -- 39
Day 1: 5 -- 11-07

63. Jamie Horton -- Centerville, AL -- 5, 11-06 -- 38
Day 1: 5 -- 11-06

64. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, TX -- 5, 11-02 -- 37
Day 1: 5 -- 11-02

65. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, FL -- 5, 10-14 -- 36
Day 1: 5 -- 10-14

66. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 10-10 -- 35
Day 1: 5 -- 10-10

67. Michael Simonton -- Fremont, OH -- 5, 10-08 -- 34
Day 1: 5 -- 10-08

67. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 10-08 -- 34
Day 1: 5 -- 10-08

69. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 5, 10-07 -- 32
Day 1: 5 -- 10-07

70. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 5, 10-05 -- 31
Day 1: 5 -- 10-05

71. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, OK -- 5, 10-04 -- 30
Day 1: 5 -- 10-04

71. Timmy Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 5, 10-04 -- 30
Day 1: 5 -- 10-04

71. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 5, 10-04 -- 30
Day 1: 5 -- 10-04

71. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 5, 10-04 -- 30
Day 1: 5 -- 10-04

75. Jason Quinn -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 10-01 -- 26
Day 1: 5 -- 10-01

76. Cliff Pace -- Petal, MS -- 5, 09-10 -- 25
Day 1: 5 -- 09-10

77. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 5, 09-08 -- 24
Day 1: 5 -- 09-08

78. Kenyon Hill -- Norman, OK -- 5, 09-06 -- 23
Day 1: 5 -- 09-06

79. Fletcher Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 5, 09-05 -- 22
Day 1: 5 -- 09-05

80. Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, MI -- 5, 09-04 -- 21
Day 1: 5 -- 09-04

81. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 5, 09-02 -- 20
Day 1: 5 -- 09-02

82. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 5, 08-10 -- 19
Day 1: 5 -- 08-10

83. Brandon Card -- Caryville, TN -- 5, 08-09 -- 18
Day 1: 5 -- 08-09

83. Clark Reehm -- Shreveport, LA -- 5, 08-09 -- 18
Day 1: 5 -- 08-09

85. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 5, 08-07 -- 16
Day 1: 5 -- 08-07

86. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, TX -- 5, 08-06 -- 15
Day 1: 5 -- 08-06

86. Brandon Palaniuk -- Rathdrum, ID -- 5, 08-06 -- 15
Day 1: 5 -- 08-06

88. Dennis Tietje -- Roanoke, LA -- 5, 08-03 -- 13
Day 1: 5 -- 08-03

89. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 3, 07-11 -- 12
Day 1: 3 -- 07-11

90. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, AL -- 4, 07-03 -- 11
Day 1: 4 -- 07-03

91. Chip Porche -- Bixby, OK -- 4, 06-13 -- 10
Day 1: 4 -- 06-13

92. Josh Bertrand -- Gilbert, AZ -- 3, 06-10 -- 9
Day 1: 3 -- 06-10

93. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 5, 05-15 -- 8
Day 1: 5 -- 05-15

94. James Elam -- Tulsa, OK -- 3, 05-07 -- 7
Day 1: 3 -- 05-07

95. Pete Ponds -- Madison, MS -- 5, 05-00 -- 6
Day 1: 5 -- 05-00

96. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 3, 04-15 -- 5
Day 1: 3 -- 04-15

97. Charlie Hartley -- Grove City, OH -- 4, 04-07 -- 4
Day 1: 4 -- 04-07

98. Grant Goldbeck -- Boerne, TX -- 3, 03-08 -- 3
Day 1: 3 -- 03-08

99. BJ Haseotes -- Centerville, MA -- 1, 02-04 -- 2
Day 1: 1 -- 02-04

100. David Smith -- Del City, OK -- 0, 00-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0 -- 00-00

Big Bass

Day 1: Kelly Jordon -- 6-04