APPLING, Ga. — With a shot at competing in the world's ultimate fishing championship, the Bassmaster Classic, Douglas Young quickly got down to business Wednesday on Georgia's Clarks Hill Lake on the first day of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship operated by American Bass Anglers.
Young, of Salisbury, N.C., leads the four-day event with a limit of 11.63 pounds.
Young is one of 222 competitors fighting for an entry onto bass fishing's biggest stage, the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 22-24 on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C. The winner of this weekend's championship also will take home $100,000.
"If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. The overall day, it was good," said Young, who might have widened his lead if not for a tough break. "I lost a 4-pounder, a big old fella. He fell in the boat … couldn't get the net in time. He hit the lip of the boat and slipped back in the water."
Young, 49, used top-water lures in the morning, and after the bite stopped around 11 a.m., he switched to a jig and a crankbait. He said the water in Clarks Hill Lake is warming up, which should help the top-water bite.
Richard Mason of Athens, Ala., finished second on the day with 10.96 pounds.
"I was just throwing a little bit of everything," said Mason, who caught a few keepers early and then a few more late in the day using spinnerbaits and crankbaits, as well as top-water lures. "It's very close, the weights are very close together, and two more days to go before you make the cut. I'm trying not to get too excited. It's not in the bag at all."
More than 20 anglers are within 3 pounds of the lead. Daniel Jeffers of Stevensville, Md., had Day One's biggest catch with a bass weighing 7.66 pounds.
"I've just got to get back to it," said Young, who added that his strategy for the next two days will be to "just go fishing."
Everyone in the Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship field had to qualify by finishing in the top eight within their respective regional divisions — 25 divisions overall. One wild-card qualifier from each division also made the Weekend Series Championship field.
Pat Burke of Moberly, Mo., leads on the co-angler side after a three-fish limit weighing 8.86 pounds.
For complete standings after Day One, visit the American Bass Anglers, Inc., site at www.abaproam.com.
The event continues through Saturday, with the full field participating through Friday. Only the top 25 anglers will fish the final day.