How tough was the fishing today at the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Ark.? Twenty percent of the field (one in five) either zeroed or weighed a single fish. The rapidly falling water negated several practices, the tight-lipped fish made for a day of mental anguish, and right now, 6 1/2 pounds is good enough for 50th place. And that 50th-place spot is held by local Arkansas River expert Scott Rook.



Some of the pros caught 'em though. Denny Brauer bested the field with a 14-10 limit, and Ish Monroe is a close 2nd with 14-08.

Monroe is followed by Keith Poche (13-08), Billy McCaghren (13-03) and 5th-place Shaw Grigsby, Jr. (13-00).

There doesn't seem to be a dominant pool or pattern yet. Some locked all the way to Pine Bluff. Others, like Grigsby, fished closer to maximize their time.

There's a main-channel bite, which is perhaps the good news, because it was iffy when official practice ended yesterday. Several good stringers came either from the main channel, or included main-channel fish to buffer the more popular backwater bite.

Cranking riprap accounted for several fish, as did flipping and even frogging, but again, a dominant pattern, pool or area has yet to emerge.

Here's a look at the Top 12 after 1 day of competition.

1. Denny Brauer: 14-10
2. Ish Monroe: 14-08
3. Keith Poche: 13-08
4. Billy McCaghren: 13-03
5. Shaw Grigsby: 13-00
6. Kevin VanDam: 12-12
7. Clark Reehm: 12-06
8. Jared Lintner: 12-00
9. John Murray: 11-07
10. Jason Williamson: 11-00
11. Andy Montgomery: 10-13
12. Pete Ponds: 10-11

Note VanDam in 6th, and the lack of any other Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race contenders. Were the event to end today, current AOY leader Terry Scroggins, who weighed just two fish today, would tumble to 5th in the race.



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Although the locks pose a risk – barges are given priority over recreational boats – the pros are able to communicate with lockmasters while on the water, which has eased many minds.

AOY points will not be dispersed until after the event concludes. However, below is a brief analysis of the Top 5 in the AOY race. Pre-tournament AOY standings are followed by temporary AOY standings, based on day-1 performance.

Pre-Tournament AOY Standings
1. Terry Scroggins -- 1490
2. Kevin VanDam -- 1471
3. Alton Jones -- 1471
4. Edwin Evers -- 1437
5. Steve Kennedy -- 1392

Temporary AOY Standings (Based On Day 1)
1. Kevin VanDam -- 1747
2. Edwin Evers -- 1652
3. Steve Kennedy -- 1631
4. Alton Jones -- 1630
5. Terry Scroggins -- 1624

Brauer Rebounded

> Day 1: 5, 14-10

For the second time this season, Brauer leads day 1. His first lead was at Pickwick, and he went on to finish 3rd.

Brauer still has two ways into the Classic. If he wins this week, he gets an automatic berth. If he stays near the top, he'll all but surely move into Classic qualification (he's currently 41st in the points).

"I got fortunate today," Brauer said. "What will happen tomorrow? I don't know."

Certainly, his practice started on a sour note. He said he only caught one keeper, he grounded his boat five times, had to be towed off twice, and also hit a rock jetty.

"But I regrouped mentally and went out the second day (of practice) and found a few fish," he added. That's where he caught his weigh-fish today. He locked twice and fished three different pools.

"I really don't have a clue if I can catch another one. Today was just a really good day for me."

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Ish Monroe's goal was a Top 25, and he's well on his way to that.

2nd: Monroe Threw 'Phattie'

> Day 1: 5, 14-08

Monroe came into the event at 50th in the AOY race (points). Those who finish the season 28th or better in the points receive a Bassmaster Classic berth, although that number will drop to at least 30th, and perhaps well beyond, due to double-qualifications.

So Monroe's primary goal this week was a Top 25, which would put him into the Classic range, and perhaps provide a chance at a Top 12. He's well on his way to both of those, courtesy of his Snag Proof Ish's Phat Frog and a flip-bait.

He lost a big one at boatside, and could never shake a 13-inch spotted bass.

"It was a fun day, except for that one I lost," Monroe told BassFan. "I'm very happy with it. I'll take 12 pounds tomorrow and be completely happy. If you look at the weights, 50th place is 6 1/2 pounds. That tells you how tough it is. There are a lot of great fishermen who are struggling.

"I locked through, but didn't make a long run," he added. "I'm just still in that mode of fishing and having fun. I caught a good one today out of an area I never even fished before. I drove by it in practice, looked at it and said, 'I might make that a stop.' I pulled in there today and caught one and missed another one. Like I said, I'm just kind of out there fishing and having fun."

He added that he's mixing up his attack. He caught some channel fish and some backwater fish today, but the majority of his fish did come from backwaters.

"I'm throwing my Ish's Phat frog, I'm flipping and I lost one on a crankbait," he added. "I'm pretty much keeping it simple."

About why he'll freely admit that he's throwing a frog this soon into competition, he said: "It doesn't matter. A lot of guys will go out and throw a frog and not have confidence in it and put it down. That's the great part about frog fishing – you can tell somebody you're catching them on a frog, but for them to go out and do it, it's a totally different thing.

"There's little keys to it that I know, that (Dean) Rojas knows, and maybe a few others. If you don't know those little keys, you won't catch them."

3rd: Poche Pumped

> Day 1: 5, 13-08

Poche, an Elite Series sophomore, sits at 20th in the points. Whether he wins this week or not, an 11- or 12-pound bag tomorrow could all but assure him a trip to the Classic.

"Oh man, I'm just floored," Poche told BassFan. "I knew I was on some decent fish, but I actually expected to catch more weight today. I didn't really burn up my fish – I just went through a couple of little runs, got my five and left. Tomorrow I'll spend a little more time and see what I can get. Oh man am I excited."

He locked twice today, he noted, and had a total of 3 hours to fish. He caught most of his fish in less than 2 hours. Plus, he thinks he figured out a little more in his areas.

"There's tons of fish down there, and I think I'm doing the right thing," he said. "I'm setting myself up in the right areas to get the big bite. I'm hardly catching anything under 15 inches. It's a good deal. When I get a bite, it's a good one."

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Keith Poche is poised to make his first-ever Classic.

His biggest fish today was a 4-pounder. He lost another good fish halfway to the boat, and got stuck with a small one. If he landed that fish, he estimated his bag would have weighed 15 or 16 pounds.

"It's just whatever," he said of that lost fish. "I'm excited about it. I'm ready to get after them tomorrow. My whole goal this year was to qualify for the Classic. I've been kind of conservative this year, setting myself up to catch five a day to keep me in the Top 50 range and get some good points. But if I have the opportunity to bust that big bag, I'm ready to do that too."

5th: Grigsby Stoked for Limit

> Day 1: 5, 13-00

Grigsby came to the Ark with a Classic berth already in hand – he won the Harris Chain – but that doesn't mean much, he said. He's irked that he's slumped over the past few events and said he still wants to make the Classic the old-fashioned way.

"You don't want to be the guy who makes the Classic just by winning," he said. "You want to be the guy who's made it every year for eons. So I'm not relaxing or anything like that. It's been very disappointing for me this year to make several small mistakes and not get checks. I'm used to getting a lot more checks than I have been. That really hurts me, so I'm pretty happy with what transpired today. I don't know what the cut's going to be, so I just have to make sure I catch some fish, make the cut and maybe get a Top 12 out of this."

He's happy that he caught a limit – a challenge itself on this river – but he's pretty sure he's out of fish. He doesn't plan to run to Pine Bluff – he likes fishing close and maximizing his time, which is what he did today. So his plan for tomorrow is to change water, but still avoid a risky run.

Also notable about his day: He said he fished "a little bit of everything." He caught a good one in a backwater, and a couple good ones out in the channel. His biggest was a 4, but he got stuck with a 12-inch spot.

14th: Vinson Made the Run

> Day 1: 5, 10-06

Fourth-year pro Greg Vinson came to the Ark with a pretty simple goal: Maintain or improve his 18th-place points standing in order to make the Classic. He's about halfway there – his 10 1/2-pound limit puts him 14th on day 1. And if he can sack a strong bag again tomorrow, he'll be closer to his secondary goal, which is to make the post-season.

"I'm really happy with it," Vinson said of his catch. "I'm making a long run to the bottom-most pool, and I don't get a long time to fish. But I know with the area I'm fishing – the potential's there to catch a really good bag. There's also the potential for a blank."

He made a critical decision this morning that paid off. He had a spot that he checked with 25 minutes until lock time. He said he fished it "and it just didn't feel right," so he decided to lock. After he locked through, he caught several quick good fish, which helped calm his nerves.

About that Pool 4 area, he noted: "I think it's the type of stuff that can replenish. I think the weights, overall, will drop tomorrow, but if anything can replenish, this will. Hopefully I can scrap out a few more solid keepers."

Another key detail from Vinson: He caught a 3-pounder in the last 20 minutes of fishing today. "That was a big boost – the kind of fish you need to make a big move," he said. "There are some 3s and 4s in that area, so the potential's there for 12 to 14 pounds if you get the right bites. You just don't have much time to fish."

93rd: Walker's Woe

> Day 1: 1, 0-12

David Walker's back with B.A.S.S. after a long stint on the FLW Tour. He came back to B.A.S.S. because he wanted to fish the Classic. And he was in great shape at 26th in the points prior to this event.

But his tiny one-fish bag today was a giant sack of woe. He's mired at 93rd after day 1, and he likely blew his chance at the Classic, unless he can bag a super-sack tomorrow or win the season finale at Wheeler.

He said the problem was he made the wrong moves at the wrong times. He left areas just before the current turned on, and arrived at others after it had shut down. He caught a lot of short fish, but only had one keeper bite, which he landed.

"You start off mad, and after a while you just feel like, 'whatever,' he said. "You can only stay mad so long, then you just cool off. Then you're disappointed. And now I'm at the point where, it sucks, but I've got no one to blame.

"It just didn't work out for me, and I wish more than anyone that it would have. The Classic was my whole goal for the year. Now, without a win, that's probably out the window. But the good news is, the weights here are so low, if I do any good at all tomorrow, I can really move up a lot."

Notable

> Day 1 stats – 94 pros, 28 limits, 18 fours, 15 threes, 18 twos, 14 ones, 6 zeroes.

> According to Vinson, pros are allowed to communicate with lockmasters while on the water. The okay was given at last night's tournament meeting. Vinson added that the lockmasters have been friendly and accommodating, which has helped him relax about his risky lock run.

> Brent Chapman (22nd) survived another day and remains alive for a Classic berth. He told BassFan that his whole season now comes down to tomorrow. To read his day-1 report, click here to go On Tour With the BassFan Big Sticks.

> Rick Clunn (25th) caught the day's big bass at 4-13. He weighed three fish total for 9-02.

> B.A.S.S. reported that Alton Jones (58th) suffered engine issues and had to wait for a backup boat.

> Scroggins (71st) noted: "Tomorrow I think I'll lock down just one pool and that will give me 6 hours to fish instead of just 3 1/2."

Weather Forecast

> Fri., June 10 - Sunny - 94°/73°
- Wind: From the SW at 9 mph

> Sat., June 11 - Mostly Sunny - 96°/73°
- Wind: From the SW at 6 mph

> Sun., June 12 - Mostly Sunny - 94°/73°
- Wind: From the E at 7 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Denny Brauer -- Camdenton, MO -- 5, 14-10 -- 305
Day 1: 5, 14-10

2. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 5, 14-08 -- 295
Day 1: 5, 14-08

3. Keith Poche -- Troy, AL -- 5, 13-08 -- 290
Day 1: 5, 13-08

4. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, AR -- 5, 13-03 -- 285
Day 1: 5, 13-03

5. Shaw E Grigsby -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 13-00 -- 280
Day 1: 5, 13-00

6. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 12-12 -- 276
Day 1: 5, 12-12

7. Clark Reehm -- Lufkin, TX -- 5, 12-06 -- 272
Day 1: 5, 12-06

8. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 5, 12-00 -- 268
Day 1: 5, 12-00

9. John Murray -- Phoenix, AZ -- 5, 11-07 -- 264
Day 1: 5, 11-07

10. Jason Williamson -- Aiken, SC -- 5, 11-00 -- 260
Day 1: 5, 11-00

11. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 5, 10-13 -- 257
Day 1: 5, 10-13

12. Pete Ponds -- Madison, MS -- 4, 10-11 -- 254
Day 1: 4, 10-11

13. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 5, 10-08 -- 251
Day 1: 5, 10-08

14. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 5, 10-06 -- 248
Day 1: 5, 10-06

15. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 5, 10-05 -- 245
Day 1: 5, 10-05

15. David Smith -- Del City, OK -- 5, 10-05 -- 245
Day 1: 5, 10-05

17. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 5, 10-04 -- 241
Day 1: 5, 10-04

18. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 10-02 -- 239
Day 1: 5, 10-02

19. John Crews -- Salem, VA -- 5, 10-01 -- 237
Day 1: 5, 10-01

20. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 5, 10-00 -- 235
Day 1: 5, 10-00

21. Cliff Pace -- Petal, MS -- 4, 09-12 -- 233
Day 1: 4, 09-12

22. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 5, 09-09 -- 231
Day 1: 5, 09-09

23. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 5, 09-06 -- 229
Day 1: 5, 09-06

24. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 09-04 -- 227
Day 1: 5, 09-04

25. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 3, 09-02 -- 225
Day 1: 3, 09-02

26. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 5, 08-12 -- 223
Day 1: 5, 08-12

27. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 4, 08-10 -- 221
Day 1: 4, 08-10

28. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, TX -- 4, 08-09 -- 219
Day 1: 4, 08-09

29. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 4, 08-08 -- 217
Day 1: 4, 08-08

30. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 4, 08-07 -- 215
Day 1: 4, 08-07

31. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 08-06 -- 213
Day 1: 5, 08-06

32. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 08-05 -- 211
Day 1: 5, 08-05

33. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 4, 08-04 -- 209
Day 1: 4, 08-04

34. Morizo Shimizu -- Matsugaoka JAPAN -- 4, 08-02 -- 207
Day 1: 4, 08-02

35. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 3, 08-02 -- 205
Day 1: 3, 08-02

36. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 5, 07-11 -- 203
Day 1: 5, 07-11

37. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, FL -- 3, 07-11 -- 201
Day 1: 3, 07-11

38. Jason Quinn -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 5, 07-09 -- 199
Day 1: 5, 07-09

39. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, SC -- 4, 07-09 -- 197
Day 1: 4, 07-09

40. Boyd Duckett -- Demopolis, AL -- 4, 07-08 -- 195
Day 1: 4, 07-08

41. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, TX -- 3, 07-06 -- 193
Day 1: 3, 07-06

42. Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, OK -- 4, 07-05 -- 191
Day 1: 4, 07-05

43. Rick Morris -- Virginia Beach, VA -- 4, 07-03 -- 189
Day 1: 4, 07-03

44. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 4, 07-00 -- 187
Day 1: 4, 07-00

45. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 4, 06-14 -- 185
Day 1: 4, 06-14

46. Dustin Wilks -- Rocky Mount, NC -- 3, 06-12 -- 183
Day 1: 3, 06-12

47. Ben Parker -- Springville, TN -- 3, 06-11 -- 181
Day 1: 3, 06-11

48. Craig Schuff -- Watauga, TX -- 4, 06-10 -- 179
Day 1: 4, 06-10

49. Charlie Hartley -- Grove City, OH -- 3, 06-07 -- 177
Day 1: 3, 06-07

49. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 3, 06-07 -- 177
Day 1: 3, 06-07

51. James Stricklin -- Texarkania, TX -- 3, 06-04 -- 173
Day 1: 3, 06-04
52. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 5, 06-03 -- 171
Day 1: 5, 06-03
53. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 4, 05-14 -- 169
Day 1: 4, 05-14
54. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 3, 05-11 -- 167
Day 1: 3, 05-11
55. Jami Fralick -- Martin, SD -- 3, 05-08 -- 165
Day 1: 3, 05-08
55. Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, OK -- 3, 05-08 -- 165
Day 1: 3, 05-08
57. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 2, 05-05 -- 161
Day 1: 2, 05-05
58. Alton Jones -- Waco, TX -- 4, 05-03 -- 159
Day 1: 4, 05-03
59. Zell Rowland -- Austin, TX -- 2, 05-02 -- 157
Day 1: 2, 05-02
60. Bradley Hallman -- Norman, OK -- 2, 05-01 -- 155
Day 1: 2, 05-01
61. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 2, 04-12 -- 153
Day 1: 2, 04-12
62. Peter E Thliveros -- St Augustine, FL -- 2, 04-10 -- 151
Day 1: 2, 04-10
63. Timmy Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 2, 04-09 -- 149
Day 1: 2, 04-09
64. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 4, 04-08 -- 147
Day 1: 4, 04-08
65. Jeff Connella -- Bentley, LA -- 2, 04-04 -- 145
Day 1: 2, 04-04
66. Kenyon Hill -- Norman, OK -- 2, 04-03 -- 143
Day 1: 2, 04-03
67. Ryan Said -- Wixom, MI -- 2, 04-02 -- 141
Day 1: 2, 04-02
68. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 2, 04-00 -- 139
Day 1: 2, 04-00
69. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 3, 03-15 -- 137
Day 1: 3, 03-15
70. Dean Alexander -- Georgetown, TX -- 2, 03-15 -- 135
Day 1: 2, 03-15
71. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 2, 03-13 -- 133
Day 1: 2, 03-13
72. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 3, 03-12 -- 131
Day 1: 3, 03-12
73. Brandon Palaniuk -- Rathdrum, ID -- 1, 03-10 -- 129
Day 1: 1, 03-10
74. Kelly Jordon -- Palestine, TX -- 2, 03-08 -- 127
Day 1: 2, 03-08
75. Dave Wolak -- Wake Forest, NC -- 3, 03-02 -- 125
Day 1: 3, 03-02
76. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 2, 03-02 -- 123
Day 1: 2, 03-02
77. Terry Butcher -- Talala, OK -- 2, 02-14 -- 121
Day 1: 2, 02-14
78. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 2, 02-12 -- 119
Day 1: 2, 02-12
78. Nate Wellman -- Newaygo, MI -- 2, 02-12 -- 119
Day 1: 2, 02-12
80. Russell Parrish -- Riesel, TX -- 1, 02-12 -- 115
Day 1: 1, 02-12
81. Brent Broderick -- Oregonia, OH -- 1, 02-05 -- 113
Day 1: 1, 02-05
82. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 1, 02-01 -- 111
Day 1: 1, 02-01
83. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, AL -- 1, 01-15 -- 109
Day 1: 1, 01-15
84. Lee Sisson -- Winter Haven, FL -- 1, 01-14 -- 107
Day 1: 1, 01-14
85. Kevin Wirth -- Crestwood, KY -- 2, 01-13 -- 105
Day 1: 2, 01-13
86. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 1, 01-13 -- 103
Day 1: 1, 01-13
87. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 1, 01-08 -- 101
Day 1: 1, 01-08
88. Chad Griffin -- Cresson, TX -- 1, 01-07 -- 99
Day 1: 1, 01-07
89. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 1, 01-05 -- 97
Day 1: 1, 01-05
90. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, GA -- 1, 01-02 -- 95
Day 1: 1, 01-02
91. Pat Golden -- High Point, NC -- 1, 01-01 -- 93
Day 1: 1, 01-01
92. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 1, 00-13 -- 91
Day 1: 1, 00-13
93. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 1, 00-12 -- 89
Day 1: 1, 00-12
94. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 0, 0-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 0-00
94. Grant Goldbeck -- Boerne, TX -- 0, 0-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 0-00
94. Travis Manson -- De Pere, WI -- 0, 0-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 0-00
94. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 0, 0-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 0-00
94. Dennis Tietje -- Roanoke, LA -- 0, 0-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 0-00
94. Jonathon VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 0, 0-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 0-00