By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

Kyle Weisenburger is plenty used to tough fisheries.

Hailing from northwestern Ohio, he gets a steady dose of the Ohio River and the small lakes around the western part of the state. Hes won two BFLs with stringers weighing less than 10 pounds. Grind-it-out tournaments dont faze him.

And thats why today was such a treat for him.

On the heels of a challenging practice, Weisenburger turned in his best day as an FLW Tour pro, sacking 24-12 to seize the day-1 lead at a tough-to-tame Grand Lake. Only one other angler Todd Castledine eclipsed the 20-pound mark on a day that saw just 37 limits caught and 115 competitors weigh three or fewer fish.

Miles Burghoff (3rd, 19-12) and Billy McCaghren (4th, 19-09) both entered the event in the top 5 in Angler of the Year points and had stellar days to put themselves in contention. Burghoffs stringer was anchored by a day-best 8-pounder. Bradford Beavers caught 19-00 and sits in 5th.

I had a difficult practice like almost everybody else, said Weisenburger, whose previous best Tour stringer was a 19-09 bag caught on day 1 at Lake St. Clair last season. I kept telling myself that the light switch will turn on and that I have to put myself in areas where I think I need to be.

He returned to an area where hed caught a big fish in practice and within 30 minutes this morning had a 4 1/2-pounder in his livewell.

That was key for me because I at least got a bite and keyed in to what I wanted to keep doing, he added. I ran with that pattern and finished my limit. I left that area without beating it up too bad.

When he moved to other areas, he got bites there, too. His big fish today weighed 6-13.

I went from having no confidence to having a day Ill never forget, he said. I go from the worst practice of my life to the best tournament day of my life. Thats tournament fishing.

Breezy conditions moved some of the dirtier water out of places it had been and activated the reaction-bait bite today. The water temperature, which had risen thanks to sunny conditions Tuesday and Wednesday, backed off a few degrees, but that isnt much of a worry moving forward. Scattered thunderstorms are in Fridays forecast along with south winds in the 10- to 15-mph range.

AOY points leader Terry Bolton got off to a solid start with 15-14, which has him in 15th place. The Oklahoma contingent is being led by Bradley Hallman (10th, 16-05) and Grove native Sheldon Collings (21st, 14-05).



FLW
Photo: FLW

Todd Castledine is concerned that he'll have to hunt new water tomorrow if the lake levels continue to drop.

While Weisenburger isnt expecting to catch another 24-pound bag tomorrow, hes hoping to scratch out at least 10 pounds from the areas he fished today.

I still think big fish live in there, but the light switch could flip off just as quick as it flipped on, he said. Im used to this in Ohio. If we dont have a bite by 10 a.m., the wheels dont come off. I just stay focused. Im fully prepared to go with that mindset tomorrow. Ill take them one bite at a time.

Castledine, who has two top-10s in FLW Series competition at Grand, amassed 20-02 but has concerns that the water in his most productive area might drop too far for other fish to hang around there tomorrow.

I didnt realize it, but theyre dropping the water and its 100 percent going to affect me, he said.

He caught a limit out of his best area this morning, then caught two other keepers elsewhere. After a dry spell, he returned to his starting spot and caught three more before backing off of it.

I had one pretty good stretch, he said. Im hoping I can catch just enough to make the cut and figure out something else over the next day or two.

Burghoff made the most of his six keepers today and is optimistic about tomorrows prospects.

I caught 13 fish overall so there were a lot more bucks around, he said, adding that he caught the 8-pounder around 2:15 p.m. Practice was hot and cold. I had a good day Sunday and I fished the same series of pockets today.

He relied mostly on a Z-Man Sling BladeZ spinnerbait and is zeroing in on areas where fish are moving up to spawn or areas in the same vicinity where they may be staging.

FLW
Photo: FLW

Miles Burghoff's day got a lot better this afternoon when he caught an 8-pounder.

Im going to fish the same areas (tomorrow) because I saw good potential as far as fish moving up, he added. The warming weather is definitely a big factor. Its pulling those fish up from deeper water.

At the 10-foot mark, its like a straight line of shad, almost like a thermocline. If we can get them up toward the bank, we can catch them. Today, I was hoping for three bites. Tomorrow, Im putting my foot on the gas.

McCaghren, who was 4th in AOY points entering the tournament, figured hed be a little higher on the leaderboard based on how tough the lake is fishing.

Im relieved, but after looking at the leaderboard, its like, What the heck happened, he said.

McCaghren relied today on an area that produced some fish for him in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic.

Its warmer now than it was then, and I thought it would be better, he said.

He came away with a 6-06 kicker and two more keepers close to 4 pounds. He feels good about catching a decent bag on Friday.

I think I can, he added. The zone I was in, I left them biting. Its not getting cold so hopefully more will move in. I think Ill catch them if it stays like this.

Weather Forecast

> Fri., March 29 Scattered thunderstorms 66/42
- Wind: From the S at 10 to 15 mph

> Sat., March 30 Morning rain, mostly cloud 47/32
- Wind: From the NNW at 10 to 20 mph

> Sun., March 31 Mostly Sunny 52/32
- Wind: From the N at 5 to 10 mph

Day 1 Standings

1. Kyle Weisenburger -- Ottawa, Oh -- 24-12 (5)

2. Todd Castledine -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 20-2 (5)

3. Miles Burghoff -- Hixson, Tn -- 19-12 (5) -- $500

4. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, Ar -- 19-9 (5)

5. Bradford Beavers -- Summerville, SC -- 19-0 (5)

6. Dicky Newberry -- Houston, Tx -- 18-9 (5)

7. Braxton Setzer -- Montgomery, Al -- 17-7 (5)

8. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 17-0 (5)

9. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 16-12 (5)

10. Bradley Hallman -- Norman, Ok -- 16-5 (5)

11. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Tx -- 16-3 (5)

12. John Cox -- Debary, Fl -- 15-15 (5)

12. Dakota Ebare -- Denham Springs, La -- 15-15 (5)

14. Terry Bolton -- Benton, Ky -- 15-14 (5)

14. Tom Redington -- Royse City, Tx -- 15-14 (4)

16. Joseph Webster -- Winfield, Al -- 15-5 (5)

17. Brad Knight -- Lancing, Tn -- 14-14 (5)

17. Bailey Boutries -- Daphne, Al -- 14-14 (5)

19. Glenn Chappelear -- Acworth, Ga -- 14-13 (4)

20. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 14-7 (5)

21. Sheldon Collings -- Grove, Ok -- 14-5 (5)

22. Joel Willert -- Prior Lake, Mn -- 14-2 (5)

23. J Todd Tucker -- Moultrie, Ga -- 13-15 (5)

24. Ron Farrow -- Rock Hill, SC -- 13-14 (4)

24. Jamie Horton -- Centerville, Al -- 13-14 (5)

24. Randy Blaukat -- Joplin, Mo -- 13-14 (5)

27. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 13-13 (5)

28. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 13-12 (4)

29. David Wootton -- Collierville, Tn -- 13-11 (4)

29. Jimmy Houston -- Cookson, Ok -- 13-11 (4)

31. Matt Reed -- Madisonville, Tx -- 13-8 (5)

32. Tyler Stewart -- West Monroe, La -- 12-12 (3)

32. Nick Lebrun -- Bossier City, La -- 12-12 (5)

34. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 12-10 (4)

35. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 12-8 (5)

36. Ryan Chandler -- Hebron, In -- 12-5 (5)

36. Lendell Martin Jr -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 12-5 (4)

38. Larry Nixon -- Quitman, Ar -- 12-1 (5)

39. Josh Douglas -- Isle, Mn -- 12-0 (5)

40. Hensley Powell -- Whitwell, Tn -- 11-8 (5)

41. Brian Latimer -- Belton, SC -- 11-6 (3)

42. Jared Mcmillan -- Belle Glade, Fl -- 11-4 (5)

43. Clayton Batts -- Butler, Ga -- 11-2 (4)

44. Clark Reehm -- Elm Grove, La -- 10-14 (3)

45. Matthew Stefan -- Junction City, Wi -- 10-9 (5)

45. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 10-9 (3)

47. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 10-7 (5)

48. Matt Wittekiend -- Angleton, Tx -- 10-5 (5)

49. Chad Randles -- Elkhorn, Ne -- 10-4 (3)

50. David Williams -- Maiden, NC -- 10-3 (5)

51. Jim Jones -- Big Bend, Wi -- 10-1 (3)

52. Colby Schrumpf -- Highland, Il -- 10-0 (5)

53. Sam George -- Athens, Al -- 9-15 (3)

54. Bradley Dortch -- Atmore, Al -- 9-14 (3)

55. Johnny McCombs -- Morris, Al -- 9-6 (3)

56. Marty Lawrence -- Mesa, Az -- 9-4 (2)

56. Jason Reyes -- Huffman, Tx -- 9-4 (4)

58. Michael Matthee -- Centurion, Gp -- 9-3 (3)

59. Derrick Snavely -- Piney Flats, Tn -- 8-15 (4)

60. Matt Greenblatt -- Port St Lucie, Fl -- 8-14 (3)

61. Jason Meninger -- Saint Augustine, Fl -- 8-13 (3)

62. Cody Kelley -- Conway, Ar -- 8-12 (2)

62. Joey Cifuentes -- Clinton, Ar -- 8-12 (3)

64. Ron Nelson -- Berrien Springs, Mi -- 8-6 (3)

65. Kurt Dove -- Del Rio, Tx -- 8-4 (4)

66. Curtis Richardson -- Belleville, On -- 8-3 (2)

67. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 8-0 (3)

68. Jordan Osborne -- Longview, Tx -- 7-15 (3)

68. Casey Scanlon -- Lake Ozark, Mo -- 7-15 (4)

70. Joshua Weaver -- Macon, Ga -- 7-14 (3)

71. Dylan Hays -- El Dorado, Ar -- 7-8 (2)

72. Brandon Mosley -- Choctaw, Ok -- 7-6 (2)

72. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 7-6 (3)

74. Evan Barnes -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 7-2 (3)

75. Matt Becker -- Finleyville, Pa -- 7-0 (3)

75. Jimmy Reese -- Witter Springs, Ca -- 7-0 (2)

77. Chad Warren -- Sand Springs, Ok -- 6-15 (3)

78. Bill Hutchison -- Bessemer, Al -- 6-14 (3)

79. James Niggemeyer -- Van, Tx -- 6-13 (3)

80. Buddy Gross -- Chickamauga, Ga -- 6-11 (3)

80. Randy Allen -- Gilliam, La -- 6-11 (2)

80. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 6-11 (3)

83. Robert Case -- Point, Tx -- 6-10 (3)

84. Jeff Dobson -- Bartlesville, Ok -- 6-8 (3)

85. Jason Abram -- Piney Flats, Tn -- 6-7 (3)

86. Jonathan Canada -- Helena, Al -- 6-2 (2)

87. John Hunter -- Shelbyville, Ky -- 6-1 (2)

88. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 5-13 (3)

89. Jacob Wall -- Jacksonville, Or -- 5-12 (2)

89. Brandon Mcmillan -- Clewiston, Fl -- 5-12 (3)

91. Chuck Medley -- Owens Cross Roads, Al -- 5-9 (3)

92. Wade Strelic -- Alpine, Ca -- 5-6 (3)

92. Ramie Colson Jr -- Cadiz, Ky -- 5-6 (2)

92. Nick Gainey -- Charleston, SC -- 5-6 (1)

95. Rob Kilby -- Hot Springs, Ar -- 5-5 (2)

96. Russell Cecil -- Willis, Tx -- 5-4 (3)

97. Chris Neau -- New Orleans, La -- 5-1 (2)

98. Cody Murray -- Nampa, Id -- 4-14 (2)

98. Capt Blake Smith -- Lakeland, Fl -- 4-14 (1)

100. Luke Dunkin -- Lawrenceburg, Tn -- 4-11 (2)

100. Daryl Biron -- South Windsor, Ct -- 4-11 (2)

102. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 4-10 (2)

102. Corey Neece -- Bristol, Tn -- 4-10 (2)

104. Tyler Woolcott -- Port Orange, Fl -- 4-9 (2)

105. Miles Howe -- San Juan Capistrano, Ca -- 4-8 (2)

106. Billy Hines -- Vacaville, Ca -- 4-7 (2)

106. Darrell Davis -- Dover, Fl -- 4-7 (2)

108. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 4-6 (2)

109. Andy Young -- Isle, Mn -- 4-3 (2)

110. Andy Wicker -- Pomaria, SC -- 4-2 (2)

111. Randy Despino -- Colfax, La -- 4-1 (2)

112. Austin Wilson -- Citrus Heights, Ca -- 3-15 (2)

113. Chip Harrington -- Olathe, Ks -- 3-13 (2)

114. Chris McCall -- Palmer, Tx -- 3-11 (2)

115. Cody Hahner -- Wausau, Wi -- 3-9 (2)

115. Kyle Cortiana -- Coweta, Ok -- 3-9 (1)

117. Scott Ashmore -- Broken Arrow, Ok -- 3-8 (1)

118. Grae Buck -- Harleysville, Pa -- 3-5 (1)

118. Ryan Salzman -- Huntsville, Al -- 3-5 (2)

120. Tim Cales -- Sandstone, WV -- 3-4 (1)

120. Pete Ponds -- Madison, Ms -- 3-4 (2)

122. Bob Morin -- Seymour, Tn -- 3-2 (1)

123. Derek Fulps -- Broken Arrow, Ok -- 3-1 (1)

123. Kevin Finley -- Phoenix, Az -- 3-1 (1)

125. Hunter Freeman -- Monroe, La -- 3-0 (1)

126. Jon Englund -- Farwell, Mn -- 2-15 (1)

127. Shawn Murphy -- Nicholasville, Ky -- 2-12 (1)

128. Charles Sim -- Nepean, On -- 2-9 (1)

129. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 2-8 (1)

130. Aj Slegona -- Pine Bush, Ny -- 2-4 (1)

131. Tommy Dickerson -- Orange, Tx -- 2-2 (1)

132. Drew Ratley -- Shreveport, La -- 2-1 (1)

132. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 2-1 (1)

132. Mark Fisher -- Wauconda, Il -- 2-1 (1)

135. Kurt Mitchell -- Milford, De -- 1-12 (1)

136. Tim Malone -- Kodak, Tn -- 1-11 (1)

137. Chris Whitson -- Louisville, Tn -- 1-10 (1)

137. Alton Wilhoit -- Noble, Ok -- 1-10 (1)

139. Aaron Britt -- Yuba City, Ca -- 1-9 (1)

140. Brant Grimm -- Church Hill, Tn -- 1-7 (1)

141. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 1-6 (1)

141. Chad Grigsby -- Maple Grove, Mn -- 1-6 (1)

143. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 1-4 (1)

Austin Felix -- Eden Prairie, Mn -- 0-0 (0)

Gary Yamamoto -- Palestine, Tx -- 0-0 (0)

Richard Lowitzki -- Hampshire, Il -- 0-0 (0)

Tim Frederick -- Leesburg, Fl -- 0-0 (0)

Troy Roder -- Brookeland, Tx -- 0-0 (0)

Greg Bohannan -- Bentonville, Ar -- 0-0 (0)

Jason Christy -- Dadeville, Al -- 0-0 (0)

Eric Jackson -- Walling, Tn -- 0-0 (0)

Timmy Thompkins -- Myrtle Beach, SC -- 0-0 (0)

Charlie Evans -- Berea, Ky -- 0-0 (0)

Chuck Stratton -- Chaffee, Mo -- 0-0 (0)

Harry Moore -- Valley, Al -- 0-0 (0)

Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 0-0 (0)

Jay Kendrick -- Grant, Al -- 0-0 (0)

Tony Dumitras -- Winston, Ga -- 0-0 (0)

Craig Rozema -- Simpsonville, SC -- 0-0 (0)

Jimmy Brewer -- Marshall, Tx -- 0-0 (0)

Rex Huff -- Corbin, Ky -- 0-0 (0)

David Gaston -- Sylacauga, Al -- 0-0 (0)

Rex Jaeger -- Hamilton, Oh -- 0-0 (0)

Bill McDonald -- Greenwood, In -- 0-0 (0)

Wes Logan -- Springville, Al -- 0-0 (0)