There's a healthy variety of patterns going at Lake Ouachita and the leaders after day 1 of this week's Ouachita FLW Tour appear polar opposites.

Terry Bolton, who largely fished offshore, is tied with shallow-water specialist Todd Auten for the lead with 18-01. Both were assessed fish-care penalties today – Bolton two, Auten one – and fish care remains a concern throughout the field because of stressed, post-spawn fish.



Third place currently belongs to local Scott Suggs, who won the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup here and is considered one of the overall favorites to win. Suggs fished his trademark super-deep trees and weighed 17-11 today under bright, hot, slick-calm conditions.

Sixth-year pro Keith Monson sits in 4th with 16 pounds even, and oh-so-hot Bryan Thrift is 5th with 15-06.

For Thrift, he's once again in position to make a Top-5 cut, and if he can do so, it'll be his fourth Top 5 in a row. Thrift also leads the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) race, and barring a complete collapse the next 2 days, will likely carry a lead into the final event of the season next month at Guntersville.

Thrift's closest followers kept the heat on today though. Andy Morgan and Ron Shuffield, Nos. 2 and 3 in the race, are in a tie for 33rd, while Rusty Salewske (4th in the race) had a big day and sits in 8th place.

An extra big bite for Morgan or Shuffield tomorrow could easily put them within reach of the Top 10 and keep their AOY hopes well afloat.

There seem to be some hints that the flooded-bush bite might slowly fade over the next several days. Ouachita's still above flood stage, but the water's dropped about a foot and a half so far this week. And although there are still plenty of fish in the bushes, they don't seem to be actively biting like they were in practice.

And some of the pros fishing offshore noted they felt new fish had come into their areas. With water temps pushing into the lower-80s, the full transition to a summer pattern could happen any day.

There was a 90-minute fog delay this morning, which hurt many in the field who were counting on an early topwater bite. Topwater fish were a factor today, but everyone largely caught the tail-end of the bite.

The field cuts to the Top 5 after day 3 and total 4-day weight determines the winner. Here's a look at the current Top 10. Total weight is followed by distance from leaders in red.

1. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, Sc -- 5, 18-01
1. Terry Bolton -- Jonesboro, Ar -- 5, 18-01 ()
3. Scott Suggs -- Bryant, Ar -- 5, 17-11 (0-06)
4. Keith Monson -- Burgin, Ky -- 5, 16-00 (2-01)
5. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, Nc -- 5, 15-06 (2-11)
6. Jacob Powroznik -- Prince George, Va -- 5, 15-05 (2-12)
7. Chad Brauer -- Osage Beach, Mo -- 5, 15-03 (2-14)
8. Rusty Salewske -- Alpine, Ca -- 5, 14-07 (3-10)
9. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 5, 14-05 (3-12)
10. Tim Klinger -- Boulder City, Nv -- 5, 14-03 (3-15)

Bolton Lost a Pound

Bolton tried his hardest to keep two of his fish alive – he used ice, chemicals and came in 30 minutes early – but deep post-spawn fish are notoriously fragile. One of his dead fish was a 6-pounder that didn't even take in a hook – he caught it on the outside of the mouth.

His total penalty was 1 pound.

"Things went better than I expected," he said. "I knew from practice that I wasn't going to get many bites, but if I got five bites, I'd have something. And I don't know why, but things for some reason got better today. I got a lot more bites.



FLW Outdoors/Gary Mortenson
Photo: FLW Outdoors/Gary Mortenson

Todd Auten isn't sure what tomorrow will bring, but he's enjoying his co-lead while it lasts.

"I think I figured out a little something I was doing wrong," he added. "I was making some mistakes in practice, but I figured out real early this morning something that really seemed to help my catch today."

He's fishing offshore and he was one of the pros who thinks fish are moving into his area as they leave the bank. That's the only reason he can offer as to why he got so many more bites today, as opposed to practice.

"It was really calm today," he noted. "To catch what I caught on a day like today – I'm tickled."

Auten 'Put it Together'

Auten also came in early, but still lost 8 ounces.

As expected, he's fishing shallow and throwing a topwater as long as he can in the morning. He does have a few backup patterns that he didn't even try today – he didn't need to – so if things get tough tomorrow he'll explore those options.

"It feels pretty good to finally get a couple good bites," he said of his co-lead position. "I put it together a little bit today. It may all fall apart tomorrow, but it feels good while it lasts. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get a little more wind and a little more cloud cover. One of those two would help I think."

He did have a snafu this morning. He missed a schooling-fish bite due to the fog delay, and there was a boat at his second and third stops. "I just started running some o the other stuff I found in practice and I got fortunate to get one about 6 pounds," he said. "That made me stick with it a little longer, and my pattern seemed to work on and off all day. It was kind of slow, but when you get a bite, usually it's a pretty good one.

"I don't know what tomorrow holds, but hopefully I can go out there and at least catch me a little bit to hang in there."

3rd: Suggs Feels Blessed

It was a harried morning for Suggs after the fog delay. He had a short day due to boat draw, and wanted that morning bite before the sun rose.

FLW Outdoors/Gary Mortenson
Photo: FLW Outdoors/Gary Mortenson

Scott Suggs is out in the forest and plans to stay there.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to catch what I did," he said. "I fished under a lot of pressure this morning. Knowing all that I wanted to try and do, I was just kind of nervous. And I lost more than I caught this morning. I lost a couple 3-pounders right off the bat, then I lost an even bigger one a little after that. Then it all starts playing in your head with the day being slick-calm and all that.

"I was just fortunate that I made some good decisions. I changed my style of fishing for a little bit to go for a limit, then from 12:30 until weigh-in I managed to catch one nearly 5, a 5 and another good one."

He's fishing just like he did when he won the Cup here – targeting suspended fish in trees. But in particular, he knows certain holes where they live, and with those fish just arriving for the summer, such spots are hard for non-locals to discover.

"I just had a couple tricks up my sleeve that worked today," he noted. "Will they work the rest of the week? I don't know, but I'm going to stick with my gameplan and keep fishing out in 70 or 80 feet. That was my gameplan coming in. I have a couple other things for afterward. I got my limit in the trees this morning, then fortunately the other deals paid off for me with the late start."

5th: Thrift Couldn't Cull

All season long, Thrift's script has read: Bad practice, great tournament. It was no different today. He went to the few places where he caught some fish in practice and whacked 15 1/2 pounds at his first hole, but it was all over by 10:30 and he never culled after that.

Although Skeet Reese on the BASS side has gotten a lot of attention for his string of Top 5s, Thrift is right there with him and could make it four Top 5s in a row this week.

"I feel great about it," Thrift said. "I definitely didn't expect to catch what I caught – that's why I feel so good. I don't know – I might not catch a fish tomorrow, but I'll go do the same thing as today and hopefully get a few bites."

FLW Outdoors/Gary Mortenson
Photo: FLW Outdoors/Gary Mortenson

Bryan Thrift caught his entire weight by 10:30 – he was never able to cull after that.

He noted he's fishing a topwater in the morning, then flipping a weightless Damiki Stinger soft stickbait when the sun gets up.

8th: Salewske Upset

Most pros typically say they're not thinking about the AOY race – they're just focused the present tournament. Salewske would like to say that, but the race is right there in his mind.

"I'm trying not to let it get in my mind," he said. "But I can honestly say I do think about it a little bit. I never want other anglers to not do well, but Bryan never lets up. None of us have a chance of catching him if he keeps catching them as well as he is.

"I should have been in the lead today," Salewske added. "I left two big ones in the lake. I'm pretty upset about it. One just pulled off – I have no idea why. The other one was kind of my fault. My co-angler fell down and I got a little impatient with waiting for the net. I tried to jackpole him and he ended up being a 5 1/2-pounder. The water was kind of muddy so I didn't know how big he was and I banged him off the gunnel."

He opted not to comment when asked if he was fishing deep or shallow, but given the fact that he was in muddy water, that would seem to indicate he's shallow.

And clearly he's on a good class of fish. He said he had a 24-pound day in practice.

In terms of his gameplan, he pinpointed three somewhat large areas in practice. He hammered one of them today. He plans to work another tomorrow, then the third on day 4. "I really think I have enough fish to catch them every day, but we'll see. Hopefully on day 4 I'll be able to hit them all a little bit."

22nd: Yelas Likes His Chances

Jay Yelas brought in 13-01 today. It wasn't enough to challenge for the lead, but he's quite close to what'll likely be the winning pace.

"I was kind of disappointed with the way the fish were reacting today," he said. "They didn't bite as well as in practice. I heard that from a lot of the guys. Hopefully they'll perk up a little bit tomorrow, but I like what I'm doing and I like my chances if the fish will cooperate."

He caught about 10 keepers today, but his bite was over by about noon. He fished shallow and deep. Two of the fish he weighed came offshore, the other three he caught shallow.

"I have a hunch that maybe with the water dropping, every day the offshore stuff might get a little better. I saw a lot of fish up in the bushes, but they wouldn't bite. I'd look for this tournament to eventually be won offshore."

Notable

> Day 1 stats – 137 anglers, 82 limits, 18 fours, 17 threes, 11 twos, 7 ones, 1 zero.

> Two more anglers appear to have dropped from the Tour since Ft. Loudoun–Tellico – Brent Long and Bud Pruitt. Ramie Colson, Jr. withdrew voluntarily after he realized he may have committed a rules infraction.

> This event is billed as the Chevy Open, although it's not clear why. Traditionally, FLW Tour Opens feature fattened purses, but this week's purse appears to be standard – $100,000 to the winner plus a potential $25,000 Ranger Cup bonus.

> Monson was assessed a 1-pound fish-care penalty.

> Shuffield's fishing shallow early, then moving deep.

> Local pro Mike Wurm was considered a favorite this week, but he limped in with four fish for 7-06. He's currently in 90th place. "I caught them rigging and flipping. I lost my fifth fish twice. One time it jumped off. Another time it broke off."

> Legend Jimmy Houston's close to qualifying for his first championship since the 1998 Bassmaster Classic. But a three-fish day today hurts his chances. He sits in 83rd. The clear, slick conditions probably killed any chance of a spinnerbait bite. "I really thought I had a good chance to finish well at this tournament," he said. "I really caught them good in practice. The problem is the fish I'm fishing for, big fish – you've got a really good likelihood of not getting five bites. But I'll just keep fishing for big ones. I'd rather not catch big ones than not catch little ones."

Weather Forecast

> Thurs., May 27 - Isolated T-Storms - 88°/66°
- Wind: From the N at 7 mph

> Fri., May 28 - Sunny - 88°/62°
- Wind: From the NE at 8 mph

> Sat., May 29 - Sunny - 87°/63°
- Wind: From the N/NE at 5 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, Sc -- 5, 18-01

1. Terry Bolton -- Jonesboro, Ar -- 5, 18-01

3. Scott Suggs -- Bryant, Ar -- 5, 17-11

4. Keith Monson -- Burgin, Ky -- 5, 16-00

5. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, Nc -- 5, 15-06

6. Jacob Powroznik -- Prince George, Va -- 5, 15-05

7. Chad Brauer -- Osage Beach, Mo -- 5, 15-03

8. Rusty Salewske -- Alpine, Ca -- 5, 14-07

9. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 5, 14-05

10. Tim Klinger -- Boulder City, Nv -- 5, 14-03

11. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, Ar -- 5, 14-02

11. Justin Kerr -- Simi Valley, Ca -- 5, 14-02

13. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, Tn -- 5, 14-00

13. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, Ca -- 5, 14-00

15. Keith Combs -- Del Rio, Tx -- 5, 13-09

15. Shinichi Fukae -- Palestine, Tx -- 5, 13-09

15. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, Az -- 5, 13-09

18. John Tanner -- Quitman, Tx -- 5, 13-08

19. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky -- 5, 13-07

20. Glenn Browne -- Ocala, Fl -- 5, 13-06

21. David Kromm -- Kennewick, Wa -- 5, 13-03

22. Jay Yelas -- Corvallis, Or -- 5, 13-01

23. David Fritts -- Lexington, Nc -- 5, 12-09

24. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 5, 12-08

25. Ray Scheide -- Dover, Ar -- 5, 12-06

26. James Watson -- Waynesville, Mo -- 5, 12-03

27. Chris Baumgardner -- Gastonia, Nc -- 5, 12-02

28. George Cochran -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 5, 11-15

28. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 5, 11-15

30. Joe Thomas -- Milford, Oh -- 5, 11-13

31. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, Sc -- 5, 11-12

31. Jonathan Newton -- Rogersville, Al -- 5, 11-12

33. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 5, 11-11

33. Ron Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ar -- 5, 11-11

35. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 5, 11-10

35. Dick Shaffer -- Rockford, Oh -- 5, 11-10

37. Kyle Mabrey -- Mccalla, Al -- 5, 11-08

37. Russell Parrish -- Riesel, Tx -- 4, 11-08

39. Cody Bird -- Granbury, Tx -- 5, 11-05

39. Guido Hibdon -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 5, 11-05

41. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 5, 11-04

42. Dave Lefebre -- Union City, Pa -- 5, 10-13

43. Luke Clausen -- Gainesville, Ga -- 5, 10-10

43. Cody Meyer -- Grass Valley, Ca -- 5, 10-10

43. Vic Vatalaro -- Kent, Oh -- 5, 10-10

46. Jt Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 5, 10-08

47. Matt Arey -- Shelby, Nc -- 5, 10-06

47. Travis Fox -- Springdale, Ar -- 5, 10-06

49. Jimmy Millsaps -- Canton, Ga -- 5, 10-05

49. Kenneth (Boo) Woods -- Hazard, Ky -- 3, 10-05

51. Jason Cordiale -- Orinda, Ca -- 5, 10-04

51. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 5, 10-04

53. Robert Sherry -- Saint Charles, Il -- 5, 10-01

54. Roy Hawk -- Salt Lake City, Ut -- 5, 9-15

55. Robbie Dodson -- Harrison, Ar -- 5, 9-14

55. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 5, 9-14

57. Bobby Mcmullin -- Pevely, Mo -- 5, 9-10

58. Clint Brownlee -- Tifton, Ga -- 5, 9-07

59. John Devere -- Berea, Ky -- 5, 9-05

59. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 5, 9-05

61. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, Az -- 5, 9-04

62. Tim Johnson -- Dallas, Ga -- 5, 9-03

62. Chris Neau -- Castro Valley, Ca -- 5, 9-03

62. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 5, 9-03

65. Brian Travis -- Conover, Nc -- 3, 9-02

66. Chris Martinkovic -- Liberty Township, Oh -- 4, 9-01

66. Nate Wellman -- Jenison, Mi -- 4, 9-01

68. Kathryn Ealey -- Moody, Al -- 3, 9-00

69. Tim Mcdonald -- Lexington, Ky -- 5, 8-15

70. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, Ok -- 5, 8-14

70. Mark Rose -- Marion, Ar -- 5, 8-14

72. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, Sc -- 3, 8-11

73. Christian Romans -- Carrollton, Ky -- 5, 8-10

74. David Walker -- Sevierville, Tn -- 5, 8-09

75. Christopher Ford -- Kennedale, Tx -- 5, 8-08

75. Jason Meninger -- Gainesville, Ga -- 5, 8-08

77. Dion Hibdon -- Stover, Mo -- 5, 8-06

78. Chip Harrison -- Bremen, In -- 5, 8-05

79. Ott Defoe -- Knoxville, Tn -- 5, 8-04

80. Shad Schenck -- Waynetown, In -- 5, 8-02

81. Terry Baksay -- Easton, Ct -- 5, 8-01

82. Chad Morgenthaler -- Coulterville, Il -- 5, 8-00

83. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 3, 7-15

84. Edwin Evers -- Talala, Ok -- 5, 7-13

85. James Christian -- Dickson, Tn -- 4, 7-12

86. Sean Hoernke -- The Woodlands, Tx -- 5, 7-10

86. Randall Tharp -- Gardendale, Al -- 5, 7-10

88. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, Tn -- 4, 7-09

89. James (Wil) Hardy -- Harlem, Ga -- 5, 7-08

90. Mark Hardin -- Jasper, Ga -- 4, 7-06

90. Mike Wurm -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 4, 7-06

92. Brad Knight -- Wartburg, Tn -- 5, 7-05

92. Thanh Le -- Lake Havasu City, Az -- 4, 7-05

92. Michael Murphy -- Gilbert, Sc -- 3, 7-05

95. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 4, 7-03

95. Adam Wagner -- Cookeville, Tn -- 3, 7-03

97. Jim Dillard -- Houston, Ar -- 5, 7-00

98. Pete Gluszek -- Mt Laurel, Nj -- 5, 6-11

99. Rhett Fornof -- Park City, Ut -- 4, 6-09

100. James Stricklin Jr -- Texarkana, Ar -- 3, 6-08

100. Jack Wade -- Knoxville, Tn -- 4, 6-08

102. Richard Lowitzki -- St Charles, Il -- 3, 6-07

103. Tom Mann Jr -- Buford, Ga -- 4, 6-06

104. Michael Bennett -- Lincoln, Ca -- 3, 6-05

104. Justin Lucas -- Montevallo, Al -- 4, 6-05

106. Nicholas Albus -- Trinity, Tx -- 2, 6-04

107. Daryl Biron -- South Windsor, Ct -- 3, 6-03

108. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, Al -- 3, 6-00

109. Terry Segraves -- Kissimmee, Fl -- 4, 5-15

110. Eric Ambort -- Mabelvale, Ar -- 4, 5-13

111. Greg Bohannan -- Rogers, Ar -- 3, 5-11

112. Jt Palmore -- Gasburg, Va -- 2, 5-07

113. Greg Pugh -- Cullman, Al -- 2, 5-05

114. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ar -- 4, 5-00

115. Fred Martin -- North Little Rock, Ar -- 3, 4-15

116. Robert Harkness -- Elizabeth, Wv -- 4, 4-14

117. Glenn Chappelear -- Acworth, Ga -- 4, 4-10

117. Mike Hawkes -- Sabinal, Tx -- 2, 4-10

119. Craig Dowling -- Grant, Al -- 2, 4-08

119. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 3, 4-08

121. Bobby Curtis -- Siloam Springs, Ar -- 3, 4-05

122. Bob Bjorklund -- Centennial, Co -- 3, 4-03

123. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 2, 4-00

124. Mark Rouse -- League City, Tx -- 2, 3-13

125. Lewis Denney -- Indian Mound, Tn -- 1, 3-09

126. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 2, 3-06

127. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 2, 2-13

128. Mark Fisher -- Glenview, Il -- 1, 2-11

129. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 2, 2-09

130. David Smith -- Del City, Ok -- 1, 2-05

131. Gerald Brown -- Chickasha, Ok -- 1, 2-04

132. Art Ferguson Iii -- St. Clair Shores, Mi -- 2, 1-11

132. Ken Wick -- Star, Id -- 1, 1-11

134. Will Jefferies -- Bountiful, Ut -- 1, 1-06

134. Robert Pearson -- Herndon, Va -- 1, 1-06

136. Stacey King -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 1, 1-05

Mark Stewart -- Springville, Al -- 0 -- 0-00