By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

There was some talk coming into the St. Lawrence River Bassmaster Elite Series that an average of 20 pounds a day might be required to make the top-50 cut. There's no way of knowing how many anglers actually believed that absurd number.

After day 1, it looks like it could become a reality.

Fifty-two competitors boxed at least 20 pounds on day 1 of the final regular-season event of the season out of Waddington, N.Y. Matt Lee led the way with a 27-12 stringer, an Elite Series record for the venue that's hosting a stop of the fourth time in the past 6 years, and the top 7 all put themselves on 100-pound pace for the 4-day derby.

David Walker was 2nd with 26-08, followed by Tyler Carriere with 26-00. Angler of the Year contender Josh Bertrand and veteran Scott Rook shared 4th with 25-11, Keith Combs was 6th with 25-07 and Dean Rojas was 7th with 25-00.

Here's a look at the initial top 12 (red numbers in parentheses denote deficit margin from the leader):

1. Matt Lee: 27-12
2. David Walker: 26-08 (1-04)
3. Tyler Carriere: 26-00 (1-12)
4. (tie) Josh Bertrand: 25-11 (2-01)
4. (tie) Scott Rook: 25-11 (2-01)
6. Keith Combs: 25-07 (2-05)
7. Dean Rojas: 25-00 (2-12)
8. (tie) James Elam: 24-13 (2-15)
8. (tie) Dave Lefebre: 24-13 (2-15)
10. Jesse Wiggins: 24-09 (3-03)
11. Brandon Lester: 24-04 (3-08)
12. Mike McClelland: 24-01 (3-11)

Quality smallmouths came from various depths on day 1, but the majority of the biggest bags were caught from offshore haunts. Some of the deep humps are harboring schools of bronzebacks while others are one- or two-bite affairs.

Bertrand's effort moved him to the top of the AOY race for the moment as he has a 2-point edge over Justin Lucas, who's in 16th place with a 23-12 stringer. Bradley Roy, who came into the tournament in the No. 1 AOY position, sacked 19-07 and resides in 57th place.



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

David Walker's 2nd-place bag was topped by a 6 1/2-pounder.

The WeatherChannel.com forecast for day 2 predicts sunny skies, a high temperature of 83 degrees and a 9-mph wind out of the southwest.

The 107-angler field will be reduced to 50 following Friday's weigh-in, and then to 12 after day 3. The winner will be determined Sunday based on highest 4-day weight.

Lee Figured Things Out

> Day 1: 5, 27-12

Lee needs a very high finish in this tournament to make the 50-angler field for next month's AOY Championship. He's off to an excellent start.

"I had just an average practice I caught a lot of 3-pounders and they're no good here," he said. "Today I got clued in on a bait and a depth range and started getting some better bites.

"I found a place that had some good ones, but I couldn't get them to bite, so I left and came back later and caught a 6-pounder. I went to a similar area after that and caught a five, then I just kind of kept practicing and caught a couple more good ones."

His bag was topped by a 6-07 specimen. All five of his weigh-in fish came from different locations and he went through about 20 keepers on the day.

"Whenever you're leading after a day of an Elite Series event, you've had an unbelievable day. To out-catch everybody on a day when there were that many big bags caught, it really hasn't sunk in. I'm still really tired after all the long practice days.

"I didn't have a clue that today was going to happen and it did, so I'm not going to count myself out for tomorrow. I'm obviously doing something right. If the fish vanish tomorrow and I don't get a bite, oh well, but when you're leading you have to stick to your guns."

2nd: Walker had Fun

> Day 1: 5, 26-08

Walker anticipated having a good day 1, but had no idea he'd catch the weight he came in with.

"It's a pleasant surprise," he said. "This place is awesome and I knew that coming up here. The schedule this year has been such a grind-fest and it seems like I've always been behind the 8-ball and trying to dig myself out of holes. I was really looking forward to coming here because I was thoroughly confident in just catching fish.

"When I can idle out of the dock and know I'm going to catch some fish, it makes for a better day."

He fished deep water and culled up throughout the day. His biggest fish was a 6 1/2-pounder.

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

Tyler Carriere's bag contained three fish that weighed more than 5 pounds each.

"I went to areas where I felt I could catch fish for sure and I had an early limit for about 16 pounds. From there it just snowballed. Three of the fish I weighed in I caught from one place, but I didn't catch a lot of fish there they just happened to be a few good ones. I don't know if it's the best place I've got or not, but I'll go back tomorrow and give it another try."

He said 2017 St. Lawrence winner Kevin VanDam predicted what would occur today, but he wasn't buying it.

"He told me on the first day of practice and then again at the (registration) meeting yesterday that 50th place would have 20 pounds. I told him I hoped he was wrong because I thought that was about my max."

3rd: Carriere Quit Early

> Day 1: 5, 26-00

Carriere ended his day an hour early he already had one dead fish in his livewell (which cost him a 4-ounce penalty) and he had another that was struggling.

"I had a pretty decent practice probably the best I've had all year," he said. "Every day I could've had a pretty good bag, but I'd just catch a fish or two from a place and leave. I didn't really know the potential of some of those places."

His day started off kind of slow, but he caught a 5-pounder and a 4 at mid-morning and had 20 pounds by 10:30. He culled twice after that, picking up his final weigh-in fish (a 4 1/2) at about 1:30.

Three of his fish topped 5 pounds on his hand-held scale and his smallest was just over 4. He said it was the biggest stringer of smallmouths he's ever caught and thinks there's a decent chance he can score big again on day 2.

"I have about 15 places to run and I only ran three today. I'm not saying I'll catch that again, but I think I can get a good bag.

"I would've had a little bit more today but I had one hop off that was right around 5 pounds. It fought and fought and then jumped one last time, and that was it."

4th: Bertrand Scored Deep

> Day 1: 5, 25-11

Bertrand spent most of the day in deep water he caught a couple of shallow fish, but ended up culling them. He went through about 15 keepers, the biggest of which was a 5 3/4-pounder.

"I lost one immediately after I caught that one," he said. "It felt like it was potentially a good one, but it broke me off on a mussel. When you're catching fish that size on light line and small hooks, it's hard to complain about losing one."

He said he had a solid practice he didn't catch any giant fish, but connected with quite a few that exceeded 4 pounds. His action on day 1 was sporadic.

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

Scott Rook made two big culls late in the day.

"I caught a couple decent ones early, then I had a lull, then I caught a couple more and had another lull, then I caught a couple more. It was really scattered for sure.

"I hit quite a few places I don't have one hole that I'm hoping nobody fishes and I used a few different baits depending on how high the sun was and things like that. I saw a few (other competitors), but this is such a big place and with people making drifts in the current it makes it easy to share water."

4th: Rook Exceeded Expectations

> Day 1: 5, 25-11

Rook figured that about 20 pounds would be his ceiling for day 1. He surpassed that by a large margin.

"I caught 20 pretty early and then I just slowed down," he said. "I had a 6-pounder and a 5-10 and they both came pretty late in the day. I broke one off that I never saw, but I'd just caught my biggest one and that one felt just as big, if not bigger. I also had a 5 come up and jump off."

He plied both deep and shallow water and bounced around quite a bit.

"Who knows about tomorrow. We're going to have nice weather again and that was a big part of today. The wind didn't blow much and the sun was out, so it was just about perfect smallmouth weather.

"You've just got to go out and get the right bites, and then you have to land them."

6th: Combs Fished Clean

> Day 1: 5, 25-07

Sitting at No. 60 in the points race, Combs came in knowing he had to fare well to get into the AOY Championship.

"It feels good to get it right or a change," he said. "I caught 20-pound bags on the first 2 days of practice and then the third day I didn't catch them, but I found some areas that had a few fish. Today they held a lot better quality than I'd anticipated."

The 6 1/2-pounder that highlighted his bag was the biggest smallmouth he's ever caught.

"Most of my fish came fairly early and I think that helped me. I didn't go to a lot of places once I had that weight I'd have had to cull a 4-03 and on the first day it's crazy to try to do that. I laid off after that.

"I lost a couple of 3 1/2 pounders, but other than that it was a really clean day. That's been my thorn this year."

86th: Card Pursued Wrong Species

> Day 1: 5, 16-02

Largemouths definitely aren't the ticket to a paycheck this year that was proven by the bags weighed in by Card, Shin Fukae (78th) and Greg Hackney (91st).

"Last time we were here I caught largemouths and finished 20th with an average of just under 19 pounds," he said. "If everything went perfect I probably could have weighed that today, but it wouldn't get me paid.

"I didn't know it was going to be like this. I only talked to a couple of people and I was thinking the weights would be similar to last time. Holy cow!"

He'll go after smallmouths on day 2.

"It's fun fishing for the largemouths, but my only chance of cutting a check is to catch 24 or 25 pounds and the only way I can do that is with brown fish. I'll get out the spinning tackle and start dragging stuff around."

Notable

> Day 1 stats 107 anglers, 104 limits, 1 four, 1 three, 1 zero.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., Aug. 24 Sunny - 83/61
- Wind: From the SW at 9 mph

> Sat., Aug. 25 Mostly Cloudy - 82/66
- Wind: From the SSW at 9 mph

> Sun., Aug. 26 A.M. T-Storms - 80/66
- Wind: From the SSW at 11 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Matt Lee -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 27-12 -- 110
Day 1: 5, 27-12

2. David Walker -- Sevierville, TN -- 5, 26-08 -- 109
Day 1: 5, 26-08

3. Tyler Carriere -- Youngsville, LA -- 5, 26-00 -- 108
Day 1: 5, 26-00

4. Josh Bertrand -- San Tan Valley, AZ -- 5, 25-11 -- 107
Day 1: 5, 25-11

4. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 5, 25-11 -- 107
Day 1: 5, 25-11

6. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 5, 25-07 -- 105
Day 1: 5, 25-07

7. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu City, AZ -- 5, 25-00 -- 104
Day 1: 5, 25-00

8. James Elam -- Tulsa, OK -- 5, 24-13 -- 103
Day 1: 5, 24-13

8. Dave Lefebre -- Erie, PA -- 5, 24-13 -- 103
Day 1: 5, 24-13

10. Jesse Wiggins -- Cullman, AL -- 5, 24-09 -- 101
Day 1: 5, 24-09

11. Brandon Lester -- Fayetteville, TN -- 5, 24-04 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 24-04

12. Mike McClelland -- Bentonville, AR -- 5, 24-01 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 24-01

13. Bobby Lane Jr. -- Lakeland, FL -- 5, 24-00 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 24-00

14. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 23-14 -- 97
Day 1: 5, 23-14

15. John Murray -- Spring City, TN -- 5, 23-13 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 23-13

16. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 23-12 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 23-12

17. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 5, 23-04 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 23-04

18. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 5, 23-04 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 23-04

19. Alton Jones -- Lorena, TX -- 5, 23-03 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 23-03

20. Brent Ehrler -- Redlands, CA -- 5, 23-02 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 23-02

21. Gerald Spohrer -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 22-15 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 22-15

22. Ott DeFoe -- Blaine, TN -- 5, 22-14 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 22-14

22. Jacob Powroznik -- North Prince George, VA -- 5, 22-14 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 22-14

24. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 5, 22-10 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 22-10

24. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 5, 22-10 -- 87
Day 1: 5, 22-10

26. Shaw Grigsby Jr. -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 22-09 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 22-09

26. Randall Tharp -- Port St. Joe, FL -- 5, 22-09 -- 85
Day 1: 5, 22-09

28. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 5, 22-06 -- 83
Day 1: 5, 22-06

29. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 5, 22-04 -- 82
Day 1: 5, 22-04

30. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 5, 22-03 -- 81
Day 1: 5, 22-03

31. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 5, 22-00 -- 80
Day 1: 5, 22-00

32. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 5, 21-14 -- 79
Day 1: 5, 21-14

33. Mark Daniels Jr. -- Tuskegee, AL -- 5, 21-14 -- 78
Day 1: 5, 21-14

34. Seth Feider -- Bloomington, MN -- 5, 21-11 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 21-11

34. Gerald Swindle -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 21-11 -- 77
Day 1: 5, 21-11

36. Alton Jones Jr. -- Waco, TX -- 5, 21-11 -- 75
Day 1: 5, 21-11

37. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 5, 21-10 -- 74
Day 1: 5, 21-10

38. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 5, 21-10 -- 73
Day 1: 5, 21-10

39. Roy Hawk -- Lk Havasu Cty, AZ -- 5, 21-06 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 21-06

39. Jonathon VanDam -- Gobles, MI -- 5, 21-06 -- 72
Day 1: 5, 21-06

41. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 5, 21-04 -- 70
Day 1: 5, 21-04

42. Dustin Connell -- Clanton, AL -- 5, 21-01 -- 69
Day 1: 5, 21-01

43. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 5, 20-15 -- 68
Day 1: 5, 20-15

44. Darrell Ocamica -- New Plymouth, ID -- 5, 20-11 -- 67
Day 1: 5, 20-11

45. Jason Williamson -- Wagener, SC -- 5, 20-09 -- 66
Day 1: 5, 20-09

46. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 5, 20-07 -- 65
Day 1: 5, 20-07

47. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, CA -- 5, 20-07 -- 64
Day 1: 5, 20-07

48. Wesley Strader -- Spring City, TN -- 5, 20-05 -- 63
Day 1: 5, 20-05

49. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 5, 20-03 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 20-03

49. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 5, 20-03 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 20-03

49. Caleb Sumrall -- New Iberia, LA -- 5, 20-03 -- 62
Day 1: 5, 20-03

52. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 5, 20-01 -- 59
Day 1: 5, 20-01

53. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 5, 19-15 -- 58
Day 1: 5, 19-15

54. Randy Sullivan -- Breckenridge, TX -- 5, 19-11 -- 57
Day 1: 5, 19-11

55. Matt Herren -- Ashville, AL -- 5, 19-10 -- 56
Day 1: 5, 19-10

56. Chris Zaldain -- Laughlin, NV -- 5, 19-08 -- 55
Day 1: 5, 19-08

57. Boyd Duckett -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 19-07 -- 54
Day 1: 5, 19-07

57. Bradley Roy -- Lancaster, KY -- 5, 19-07 -- 54
Day 1: 5, 19-07

59. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 5, 19-04 -- 52
Day 1: 5, 19-04

60. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 5, 19-03 -- 51
Day 1: 5, 19-03

61. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, NJ -- 5, 19-01 -- 50
Day 1: 5, 19-01

62. Brandon Coulter -- Knoxville, TN -- 5, 18-11 -- 49
Day 1: 5, 18-11

63. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 5, 18-10 -- 48
Day 1: 5, 18-10

64. Chris Groh -- Spring Grove, IL -- 5, 18-09 -- 47
Day 1: 5, 18-09

65. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, OK -- 5, 18-07 -- 46
Day 1: 5, 18-07

66. Fred Roumbanis -- Russellville, AR -- 5, 18-06 -- 45
Day 1: 5, 18-06

67. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 5, 18-05 -- 44
Day 1: 5, 18-05

68. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 5, 18-05 -- 43
Day 1: 5, 18-05

69. Jordan Lee -- Grant, AL -- 5, 18-04 -- 42
Day 1: 5, 18-04

70. Gary Klein -- Mingus, TX -- 5, 18-03 -- 41
Day 1: 5, 18-03

71. Cliff Crochet -- Pierre Part, LA -- 5, 18-02 -- 40
Day 1: 5, 18-02

72. Fletcher Shryock -- Dennison, OH -- 5, 18-01 -- 39
Day 1: 5, 18-01

73. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 5, 17-15 -- 38
Day 1: 5, 17-15

73. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 5, 17-15 -- 38
Day 1: 5, 17-15

75. Jacob Wheeler -- Harrison, TN -- 5, 17-12 -- 36
Day 1: 5, 17-12

76. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 5, 17-12 -- 35
Day 1: 5, 17-12

77. Drew Benton -- Panama City, FL -- 5, 17-08 -- 34
Day 1: 5, 17-08

78. David Fritts -- Lexington, NC -- 5, 17-06 -- 33
Day 1: 5, 17-06

78. Shin Fukae -- Palestine, TX -- 5, 17-06 -- 33
Day 1: 5, 17-06

78. Brock Mosley -- Collinsville, MS -- 5, 17-06 -- 33
Day 1: 5, 17-06

81. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 5, 17-03 -- 30
Day 1: 5, 17-03

82. Randy Howell -- Guntersville, AL -- 5, 17-01 -- 29
Day 1: 5, 17-01

83. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, FL -- 5, 16-15 -- 28
Day 1: 5, 16-15

84. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 5, 16-13 -- 27
Day 1: 5, 16-13

85. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 5, 16-12 -- 26
Day 1: 5, 16-12

86. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 5, 16-02 -- 25
Day 1: 5, 16-02

86. Cliff Pace -- Petal, MS -- 5, 16-02 -- 25
Day 1: 5, 16-02

88. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 5, 16-01 -- 23
Day 1: 5, 16-01

89. Greg Vinson -- Wetumpka, AL -- 5, 15-11 -- 22
Day 1: 5, 15-11

90. Paul Mueller -- Naugatuck, CT -- 5, 15-08 -- 21
Day 1: 5, 15-08

91. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 15-03 -- 20
Day 1: 5, 15-03

92. Jake Whitaker -- Fairview, NC -- 5, 15-02 -- 19
Day 1: 5, 15-02

93. Hank Cherry Jr -- Lincolnton, NC -- 5, 15-00 -- 18
Day 1: 5, 15-00

94. Russ Lane -- Prattville, AL -- 5, 14-14 -- 17
Day 1: 5, 14-14

95. Skylar Hamilton -- Dandridge, TN -- 5, 14-10 -- 16
Day 1: 5, 14-10

96. Clifford Pirch -- Payson, AZ -- 5, 14-08 -- 15
Day 1: 5, 14-08

97. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 5, 14-04 -- 14
Day 1: 5, 14-04

98. Kelly Jordon -- Flint, TX -- 5, 14-02 -- 13
Day 1: 5, 14-02

99. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 5, 13-06 -- 12
Day 1: 5, 13-06

100. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 5, 13-00 -- 11
Day 1: 5, 13-00

101. Bill Weidler -- Helena, AL -- 4, 12-11 -- 10
Day 1: 4, 12-11

102. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, OK -- 5, 12-10 -- 9
Day 1: 5, 12-10

103. Tim Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 3, 12-08 -- 8
Day 1: 4, 12-08

104. Robbie Latuso -- Gonzales, LA -- 5, 12-03 -- 7
Day 1: 5, 12-03

105. Morizo Shimizu -- Osaka, Japan-- 5, 12-02 -- 6
Day 1: 5, 12-02

106. Chad Pipkens -- Lansing, MI -- 5, 11-05 -- 5
Day 1: 5, 11-05

107. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 0, 00-00 -- 0
Day 1: 0, 00-00