It has all the makings of a once-in-a-lifetime run. Unbelievably, California pro Skeet Reese is on track to record his fifth consecutive tour-level Top 5, and perhaps win his second event in a 3-week period.

He didn't let up a bit today at the Guntersville Bassmaster Elite Series when he dropped a whopping 29-03 sack on the scale, which gave him a 1-01 lead over 2nd-place Gary Klein.



So far this season, Reese finished 2nd at the California Delta, 5th at Clear Lake, he won Smith Mt., then finished 5th at Pickwick last Sunday. He currently enjoys a commanding 153-point lead in the Toyota Tundra BASS Angler of the Year (AOY) race and dominates the BassFan World Rankings.

He finished 2nd here last year, but is fishing different water, he said.

The best bite by far today was out in deeper water for post-spawn fish. Some predicted that bite wouldn't be spectacular, but it did produce some very strong day-1 weights. Still, it's crowded out there, and overall the upper-end of the size isn't what it was last year. If the current does turn off, the bite could turn colder.

Klein, in 2nd, caught 28-04, and is also outside. Boat draw was a major factor today the outside schools are no secret and he had a late one. But he picked right, caught his weight by noon, then camped the rest of the day.

Mark Davis is one of the best post-spawn anglers in the history of the sport, and he proved it again today with a 27-12 total, which put him in 3rd. He's cranking outside stuff.

One ounce behind Davis is Fred Roumbanis, followed by deep-structure specialist Paul Elias with 26-12.

The Top-12 cut pace right now is 24 1/2 pounds, right where it was last year. And the check pace is 19-03 again, about what it was last year. Overall, 40 pros caught better than 20 pounds.

Most of the top bags were composed of quality 4-, 5- and 6-pounders, rather than 3s and 4s plus a toad.

Fish care was an issue today for some. Guntersville post-spawn bass are notoriously delicate. With daytime highs near 90, several anglers threw back expiring fish, rather than be stuck with a dead one, and many (including Davis and Jeff Kriet) checked in more than an hour early. Klein was just one of many pros who suffered a dead-fish penalty.

And the shad-spawn bite doesn't appear to be happening yet. Most are now convinced that the brutally cold winter took an excessive toll on the shad population in the Tennessee River, and they're skeptical as to whether a morning shad-spawn bite will develop at all this week.

Only three anglers failed to catch a limit today Kelly Jordon, Dave Smith and Scott Ashmore.

There were a few surprises in the standings. Former Guntersville champ Jordan for one (87th), as well as Rick Clunn (75th), Matt Herren (69th) and Mike Iaconelli (63rd).

Fishing pressure around the lake was immense today both the Elite Series pros fishing in groups, as well as the hordes of both local and visiting anglers fishing the hottest lake in the country at its prime.

Here's a look at the Top 12. Total weight is followed by distance from leader in red.

1. Skeet Reese: 29-03
2. Gary Klein: 28-04 (0-17)
3. Mark Davis: 27-12 (1-07)
4. Fred Roumbanis: 27-11 (1-08)
5. Paul Elias: 26-12 (2-07)
6. Stephen Browning: 26-01 (3-02)
7. Pete Ponds: 26-00 (3-03)
8. Todd Faircloth: 25-04 (3-15)
9. Denny Brauer: 24-09 (4-10)
10. Davy Hite: 24-07 (4-12)
10. Mark Menendez: 24-07 (4-12)
12. Tommy Biffle: 24-06 (4-13)

Reese Tired

Reese never made a cut at Guntersville until last year, when he finished 2nd. He said he fished different water today than he did last year, and he's till got some backup stuff.

"I've saved some schools, but that doesn't mean that I'll need them," he said. "It was a fun day but I'm going to need to keep it up to have a shot.

"I'm dog-tired right now," he added. "It's an absolute grind. My hands are so shredded right now from catching fish it's crazy. It's almost every cast. My first cast, literally, I caught a 5-plus off the bat."



ESPN Outdoors/Seigo Saito
Photo: ESPN Outdoors/Seigo Saito

Gary Klein fished shallow last year, but this year he's fishing 18 to 25 feet of water.

He also reportedly lost two big fish that could have pushed his bag over the 30-pound mark.

And like many others, he was surprised at the weights today, given how practice was. But when he caught a 5-pounder on his first cast, he knew he needed to upgrade his expectations.

2nd: Klein Camped

As noted above, Klein had a late boat draw. But he was able to get on the spot he wanted without company and it kicked out 28-12, but his final weight settled at 28-04 after a dead-fish penalty.

"It was one place I was planning on fishing," he said. "With this group you never can tell (who'll be where), but there were no boats there when I got there and I had it to myself all day. I've got a bunch of other places to fish, but when you catch a 5-pounder every hour, you may as well hang around there. So I made the decision to stay.

"My marshal lost count, but I caught well over 100 fish, and out of that many, only eight were big ones. My (weigh-fish) were all over 5 pounds and my biggest was 6-13. I've fished this lake many, many times and it's stuff I fished years ago. The lake's changed for me from what I was doing last year, when I was catching them shallow. This year I'm catching them deep 18 to 25 feet."

He noted that the current dropped some today, and if it drops further, he thinks that'll help him, because he's fishing where the fish want to go, and nothing's going to change that. It's just a matter of adjusting baits or presentations for changes in current.

"It was an interesting day, in that, you're sitting on a school and you can throw a lot of different baits," he said. "I went through everything today and there's a lot of stuff you throw and never get a bite just nothing. Then I'd pick up what I'd been catching them on and get bit on four consecutive casts.

"The lake's in great shape," he added. "It's full of rich, healthy milfoil. I heard some people talk about all the grass being gone. I don't know what those people are smoking because this lake's got good milfoil all over it."

3rd: Davis Doing What He Loves

It's a well-known fact that Davis loves to fish the post-spawn. Give him some outside schools and a crankbait and he's all over it.

ESPN Outdoors/Gary Tramontina
Photo: ESPN Outdoors/Gary Tramontina

Mark Davis is doing what he loves cranking for deep, post-spawn fish.

That's what he did today, and when his box was full of 5-pounders at about 2:00, he quit running his stuff in hopes of saving it. He's not alone though he's fishing a school and he's got company. But he also hasn't fished a bunch of his stuff, and he just hopes no one touched those areas too hard today.

"Without a doubt, this is what I love," he told BassFan shortly after weigh-in. "This is a great time of the year. I've got two or three spots where they're schooled up and I'm catching them on a deep crankbait.

"I don't believe they pulled as much current today as they had been," he added. "But as long as the current moves, I think that outside stuff will stay good. If they go ahead and really shut the current down, I think you'll see the weights fall drastically."

He didn't look for a shad-spawn bite this morning he went straight to his schools.

"I feel real good about it," he noted. "Skeet just weighed in 30 pounds, which doesn't surprise me. I knew somebody was really going to catch them. But I feel real good about what I've got. In fact, I couldn't feel better about it. I'm not saying I'm going to catch them this good every day, but as far as being confident and liking my chances? I do."

5th: Elias Deep Too

Elias loves fishing deep structure so much, he started a school that teaches people how to do it (InDepthFishingLessons.com). And that's what he's doing this week cranking 17 to 20 feet of water.

All the fish in his 26-12 limit were in the 5-pound range.

"It went great," he said of his day. "I was fortunate enough to get in the first flight and I got on one of my main deals. There were a couple other guys who found those fish and ran straight to them. But I got on two of my key places today."

He fished one of those places just briefly he caught three fish and left before anyone saw him. He noted it "doesn't stick out like a sore thumb on a GPS," so he thinks it'll be safe for the time being.

ESPN Outdoors/Seigo Saito
Photo: ESPN Outdoors/Seigo Saito

As an early boat out, Paul Elias was able to get on two of his spots today.

However, the boat order reverses tomorrow, so he'll be out late. "Boat order makes a big difference. Today, Edwin (Evers) found the same fish I was on. He ran to me and when I was there, he turned around and ran (to his other spot) and Mark Davis was fishing there. But (Edwin) will be out ahead of me tomorrow.

"I had 12 schools of fish coming into this tournament," Elias added. "Now I'm down to two I feel I can catch. The other ones all had boats on them. If I have to hit them tomorrow I will, but the hardest thing here is the local traffic. This lake's getting pounded day in and day out."

6th: Browning Mostly Junking

Stephen Browning hauled in 26-01 today, and his bag included a 7-pounder and a 6 1/2. He ran a split pattern. He fished schooling fish briefly this morning and eventually weighed three of those, but he spent the bulk of his day junk-fishing in shallow water.

He remarked that today's bite slowed down from what he saw in practice, but the quality was there.

"I've got eight to 10 rods out on the deck and I'm junk fishing throwing at everything," he said. "A lot of it I found in practice stuff that looked good but I never threw at. It's just a big-time mixture of stuff."

7th: Ponds Cranking

Pete Ponds cranked up 26 pounds today and he's all alone on one of his spots. Another he's sharing "a little bit."

He estimated he caught 150 fish today and noted he's throwing a prototype Bandit crank in both shallow and deep water.

About his best spot, he said: "I don't think anybody knows about it. There's only one other guy in the area, and I'm sure he'll respect my water tomorrow. A couple of locals saw me on it, but the local guys are really being cooperative and friendly. They actually saw me when I found the area in practice on Monday. I asked them if they'd let me have it this week. They said they would and I was very happy.

"You have to think about these guys here. They're on their vacations. They waited all year to fish this lake, and here we come busting in. Kudos to them for helping out."

23rd: VanDam Pressured

There's a price to pay for being the most dominant angler of the modern era. Kevin VanDam 23rd today with 23 pounds had a flotilla of boats with him.

He's not fishing near his potential lately he's 38th in the AOY race and has dropped to 5th in the world so he's a little mystified there aren't more boats on some other guys.

"I just never got any bigger bites today, and that's what you need here," he said. "I didn't lose any, so I feel good about that. And I love this lake. It's a good lake. But it's a little frustrating with the amount of pressure out there. But that's what we do when we have these tournaments here and catch all these fish everybody comes.

"The word's out on this place," he added. "There's no secrets from the past, that's for sure."

About making the Top-12 cut, he noted: "I think if you catch 23, 24, 25 a day you'll be right there. Hopefully I can do that, but there's no guarantees. It's not nearly as easy as it was last year. It was a lot better fishing last year, and I think you'll see that tomorrow."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 93 anglers, 90 limits, 3 fours.

> Greg Hackney, 2nd in the AOY race, is in 62nd with 17-11. Evers, who's 3rd in the AOY race, sits at 50th with 18-15.

> Defending Guntersville champion Aaron Martens caught 19-11 today, which puts him at 43rd.

> Kriet (51st, 18-14) said of his fish-care problems: "Early today I threw back a 4-pounder that was turning colors and kept a 3-pounder instead. And all day I did everything. I put in chemicals. I never shut my livewells and recirculators off. I didn't beat them up the lake was slick. They just all started turning colors. If I'd come in earlier, I'd have had 21 pounds."

Weather Forecast

> Fri., May 7 - Sunny - 88/64
- Wind: From the S/SW at 5 mph

> Sat., May 8 - Partly Cloudy - 74/50
- Wind: From the NW at 14 mph

> Sun., May 9 - Partly Cloudy - 69/51
- Wind: From the N/NE at 8 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 5, 29-03 -- 305
Day 1: 5, 29-03

2. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, TX -- 5, 28-04 -- 295
Day 1: 5, 28-04

3. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 5, 27-12 -- 290
Day 1: 5, 27-12

4. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 5 27-11 -- 285
Day 1: 5, 27-11

5. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 5, 26-12 -- 280
Day 1: 5, 26-12

6. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 5, 26-01 -- 276
Day 1: 5, 26-01

7. Pete Ponds -- Madison, MS -- 5 26-00 -- 272
Day 1: 5, 26-00

8. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 5 25-04 -- 268
Day 1: 5, 25-04

9. Denny Brauer -- Camdenton, MO -- 5, 24-09 -- 264
Day 1: 5, 24-09

10. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, SC -- 5 24-07 -- 260
Day 1: 5, 24-07

10. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 5, 24-07 -- 260
Day 1: 5, 24-07

12. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 5 24-06 -- 254
Day 1: 5, 24-06

13. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 5, 24-05 -- 251
Day 1: 5, 24-05

14. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 5, 24-04 -- 248
Day 1: 5, 24-04

15. Morizo Shimizu -- Osaka JAPAN -- 5, 24-03 -- 245
Day 1: 5, 24-03

16. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 5 24-00 -- 243
Day 1: 5, 24-00

17. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 5, 23-15 -- 241
Day 1: 5, 23-15

18. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 5 23-12 -- 239
Day 1: 5, 23-12

19. Cliff Pace -- Petal, MS -- 5 23-06 -- 237
Day 1: 5, 23-06

19. Kevin Wirth -- Crestwood, KY -- 5, 23-06 -- 237
Day 1: 5, 23-06

21. Marty Stone -- Fayetteville, NC -- 5, 23-04 -- 233
Day 1: 5, 23-04

22. Timmy Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 5, 23-02 -- 231
Day 1: 5, 23-02

23. Terry Butcher -- Talala, OK -- 5 23-00 -- 229
Day 1: 5, 23-00

23. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 23-00 -- 229
Day 1: 5, 23-00

25. Kenyon Hill -- Norman, OK -- 5, 22-12 -- 225
Day 1: 5, 22-12

26. Jami Fralick -- Martin, SD -- 5, 22-08 -- 223
Day 1: 5, 22-08

27. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 22-04 -- 221
Day 1: 5, 22-04

28. Bill Lowen -- North Bend, OH -- 5, 22-02 -- 219
Day 1: 5, 22-02

29. Dennis Tietje -- Roanoke, LA -- 5, 22-00 -- 217
Day 1: 5, 22-00

30. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 5, 22-00 -- 215
Day 1: 5, 22-00

31. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, AR -- 5 21-12 -- 213
Day 1: 5, 21-12

32. Shaw E Grigsby -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 21-12 -- 211
Day 1: 5, 21-12

33. Boyd Duckett -- Demopolis, AL -- 5, 21-11 -- 209
Day 1: 5, 21-11

33. Alton Jones -- Waco, TX -- 5, 21-11 -- 209
Day 1: 5, 21-11

35. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5 21-10 -- 205
Day 1: 5, 21-10

36. Rick Morris -- Virginia Beach, VA -- 5, 21-03 -- 203
Day 1: 5, 21-03

37. Charlie Hartley -- Grove City, OH -- 5, 21-02 -- 201
Day 1: 5, 21-02

38. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 5, 20-10 -- 199
Day 1: 5, 20-10

39. Clark Reehm -- Russellville, AR -- 5, 20-07 -- 197
Day 1: 5, 20-07

40. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 20-03 -- 195
Day 1: 5, 20-03

41. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 5, 19-15 -- 193
Day 1: 5, 19-15

42. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 5, 19-13 -- 191
Day 1: 5, 19-13

43. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 5, 19-11 -- 189
Day 1: 5, 19-11

44. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 5, 19-06 -- 187
Day 1: 5, 19-06

45. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 5, 19-04 -- 185
Day 1: 5, 19-04

45. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 5 19-04 -- 185
Day 1: 5, 19-04

47. John Murray -- Phoenix, AZ -- 5, 19-03 -- 181
Day 1: 5, 19-03

48. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 5, 19-01 -- 179
Day 1: 5, 19-01
48. Jason Williamson -- Aiken, SC -- 5, 19-01 -- 179
Day 1: 5, 19-01
50. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 5 18-15 -- 175
Day 1: 5, 18-15
51. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 18-14 -- 173
Day 1: 5, 18-14
51. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 5, 18-14 -- 173
Day 1: 5, 18-14
53. Guy Eaker -- Cherryville, NC -- 5, 18-13 -- 169
Day 1: 5, 18-13
53. Bradley Hallman -- Norman, OK -- 5, 18-13 -- 169
Day 1: 5, 18-13
53. Dustin Wilks -- Rocky Mount, NC -- 5, 18-13 -- 169
Day 1: 5, 18-13
56. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 5, 18-08 -- 163
Day 1: 5, 18-08
57. Mark Tucker -- Saint Louis, MO -- 5 18-07 -- 161
Day 1: 5, 18-07
58. Chad Griffin -- Cresson, TX -- 5, 18-05 -- 159
Day 1: 5, 18-05
59. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 5, 18-03 -- 157
Day 1: 5, 18-03
60. John Crews -- Salem, VA -- 5, 18-00 -- 155
Day 1: 5, 18-00
61. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, TX -- 5, 17-13 -- 153
Day 1: 5, 17-13
62. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 17-11 -- 151
Day 1: 5, 17-11
63. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 5 17-09 -- 149
Day 1: 5, 17-09
64. Vince Fulks -- Purcell, OK -- 5 17-09 -- 147
Day 1: 5, 17-09
65. Zell Rowland -- Austin, TX -- 5, 17-02 -- 145
Day 1: 5, 17-02
66. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 5, 17-00 -- 143
Day 1: 5, 17-00
67. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 5 16-14 -- 141
Day 1: 5, 16-14
68. Dave Wolak -- Wake Forest, NC -- 5, 16-13 -- 139
Day 1: 5, 16-13
69. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 5 16-12 -- 137
Day 1: 5, 16-12
69. Keith Poche -- Troy, AL -- 5, 16-12 -- 137
Day 1: 5, 16-12
71. Matt Greenblatt -- Palm Beach Gardens, FL -- 5, 16-06 -- 133
Day 1: 5, 16-06
72. Byron Velvick -- Del Rio, TX -- 5, 16-05 -- 131
Day 1: 5, 16-05
73. Wade Grooms -- Bonneau, SC -- 5, 16-00 -- 129
Day 1: 5, 16-00
74. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 5 15-13 -- 127
Day 1: 5, 15-13
75. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 5, 15-04 -- 125
Day 1: 5, 15-04
76. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, GA -- 5 15-03 -- 123
Day 1: 5, 15-03
77. Pat Golden -- High Point, NC -- 5, 15-00 -- 121
Day 1: 5, 15-00
77. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 5, 15-00 -- 121
Day 1: 5, 15-00
79. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 5 14-06 -- 117
Day 1: 5, 14-06
80. Mark Burgess -- Norton, MA -- 5, 14-05 -- 115
Day 1: 5, 14-05
80. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 5, 14-05 -- 115
Day 1: 5, 14-05
82. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 5, 13-15 -- 111
Day 1: 5, 13-15
83. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, AL -- 5, 13-09 -- 109
Day 1: 5, 13-09
84. Byron Haseotes -- Centerville, MA -- 5, 12-13 -- 107
Day 1: 5, 12-13
85. Jeff Connella -- Bentley, LA -- 5, 12-12 -- 105
Day 1: 5, 12-12
86. Mark Tyler -- Vian, OK -- 5, 12-04 -- 103
Day 1: 5, 12-04
87. Kelly Jordon -- Mineola, TX -- 4, 12-04 -- 101
Day 1: 4, 12-04
88. Jeremy Starks -- Charleston, WV -- 5, 12-03 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 12-03
88. Peter E Thliveros -- St Augustine, FL -- 5, 12-03 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 12-03
90. Grant Goldbeck -- Gaithersburg, MD -- 5, 11-05 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 11-05
91. Jason Quinn -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 11-03 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 11-03
92. David Smith -- Del City, OK -- 4, 10-00 -- 91
Day 1: 4, 10-00
93. Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, OK -- 4, 08-01 -- 89
Day 1: 4, 08-01