Dennis Tietje highest-ranking Louisiana pro at 28th
Dean Rojas caught 16 pounds of Toledo Bend bass by 10 a.m. Thursday. Then he got serious. He went looking for the big spawning bass and found them.
A 7-pound, 1-ounce largemouth, followed by one over 5, went into the box. He ended up with 23 pounds, 1 ounce, and the lead in the Elite Series stop on the reservoir.
After one day of fishing, Fred Roumbanis, with 21-3 for second place, ended the day behind Rojas by 1 pound, 14 ounces. It was a decent cushion for the leader, especially on a day when No. 10 was only 4-3 behind him.
Finishing third after one day was rookie Brandon Palaniuk, who had 20-6. Fourth was Todd Faircloth, with 20-4, and fifth was Steve Kennedy with 20-0.
Roanoke’s Dennis Tietje goes into Day 2 in 28th with 15-07. Jeff Connella of Bentley was in 39th with 14-06. Pierre Part’s Cliff Crochet and Gonzales’ Greg Hackney were just outside the top 50, moving into the second day of competition in 52nd and 55th, respectively.
Complete first-day standings can be found at Bassmaster.com.
As good as his day was, Rojas had hoped for better — a total of 25 pounds, he said.
“The wind really hurt me today because it took out an area that had some really big ones in it,” he said.
For the second day, he’s hoping for flat water and no wind — ideal sight-fishing conditions. He’s got more spawners in reserve, he said, enough to carry him all four days.
“The bites came quickly this morning, and I don’t foresee it being any different tomorrow,” he said. “I milked the area pretty good, but there are still a lot of fish in there.”
Rojas said he’s taking his bedding fish with the WarMouth, the same signature lure he used on the St. Johns River in Florida last month.
“It’s just a great sight-fishing bait,” he said.
Roumbanis produced his 21-3 for second place by starting out “in the dirt and ending up deep.”
“I’m fishing off the bottom — not on the bottom,” he said. “I can see them on the graph, about 5, 6 feet off the bottom. The weather’s bringing them — they’re cruisers. The wind is definitely helping me,” he said.
Roumbanis said he’s got a solitary spot and a technique no one else has.
“It’s a trick I taught myself,” he said, but was tight-lipped after that.
Rookie Palaniuk said that, unlike Roumbanis but like Rojas, he went sight fishing Thursday, catching his two of his largest fish of the day off beds.
He caught his biggest one, a 7-4, about 15 minutes before he came in.
“I had another big one today blow up on a topwater,” Palaniuk said. “I missed it, but I’m going back to it tomorrow.”
Topping Palaniuk’s big one was the day’s largest bass, a 7-14 by Chris Lane. The bass is in contention for the tournament’s Berkley Big Bass of Tournament.