Friday marked the first day of the 2017 Bassmaster Classic, with 52 of the best bass-fishers in the world converging on Houston's Lake Conroe for the right to call themselves a champion.
Edwin Evers is the defending champ. Last season, he wrangled a total of 14 bass over the three days, including a spectacular 29-pound, three-ounce catch on the final day to breeze past Jason Christie.
Here are the results from the opening day of this year's Bassmaster Classic, along with reaction from what happened on the water:
|2017 Bassmaster Classic Friday Results|
|Place||Angler||Total Fish||Weight (Pounds-Ounces)|
Full results available via Bassmaster.com.
There are high expectations for this year's event based on the quality of the bass in the lake. Prior to the start of Friday's festivities, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Mark Webb offered a brief assessment on Lake Conroe.
"I think you're going to see some really impressive catches—maybe even some records broken," Webb said, per Shannon Tompkins of the Houston Chronicle. "Lake Conroe has a very high-quality bass fishery."
Tompkins also noted several of the anglers competing in this year's classic believe the record weight of 69 pounds, 11 ounces could be in jeopardy.
"Lake Conroe has coughed up more than two-dozen largemouths weighing 13 pounds or more, and the lake record stands at 15.93 pounds," Tompkins wrote.
Brent Ehrler started the day nearly one-third of the way to the all-time weight total in the event. He started with 23 pounds, three ounces from his five bass.
The talent in the field is another reason for optimism about the high level of competition this weekend. Twelve former Bassmaster Classic champions are participating, including the ones for each of the past three years (Evers, Casey Ashley, Randy Howell).
From that trio, Evers had the best start to the Bassmaster Classic, sitting in 13th place with 18 pounds, three ounces. Ashley and Howell had rough starts, with both sitting outside the top 40 after the first day. Howell is fourth from the bottom with just two catches totaling four pounds, eight ounces.
Among the top-10 finishers Friday, James Elam was the only angler not to catch five bass. He made his catches count, generating 20 pounds, one ounce from four.
With one day in the books, there are no definitive statements to make. Ehrler's slim edge at the top of the leaderboard may give him confidence heading into Saturday, but Lake Conroe is proving to be fruitful for large bass.
Even those anglers who got off to a slow start, like Howell and Ashley, can climb back into the mix with the right catches tomorrow.