Ultimate Bass

Brent Chapman leads on Short Day

With Lake Dardanelle tightening up and anglers facing weather challenges on the opening day of the Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive, Brent Chapman was able to take advantage by focusing on a few spots and…

With Lake Dardanelle tightening up and anglers facing weather challenges on the opening day of the Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive, Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., was able to take advantage by focusing on a few spots and turning a less-than-stellar practice into the Day One lead with 19 pounds, 7 ounces, Thursday at the second event of the 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series season.

Chapman opened up a more than 2-pound advantage over Mark Menendez’s 17 pounds, 12 ounces. Menendez, of Paducah, Ky., was one of four anglers in the field using an aluminum boat. The 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion, Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, carried a solid performance at the season opener on Texas’ Lake Amistad into the second event, coming in third with 17-5. Rounding out the top five were Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., in fourth with 17-1, and Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., with 16-12 in fifth.

A dense fog prevented Chapman and the other 99 Elite Series anglers from launching at the scheduled time of 7:15 a.m. CT. With safer conditions a little more than three hours later, anglers launched after the delay cut significantly into their competition day.

While the delay was a curse for some – just 41 caught limits — Chapman felt it helped him focus on his most productive spots after a lackluster practice.

“That’s how fishing is supposed to go,” said the two-time BASS event winner. “I had nothing solid in practice and I wasn’t feeling that great about my chances. But things changed really quickly and I was able to limit my focus. I just can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow.”

Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action from the Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive on The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday, April 4, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2. The daily weigh-ins for this and all other regular-season Elite events and two postseason events will air live at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports network, while a wealth of unique content will also be available at Bassmaster.com. Also this week on Bassmaster.com, fans can get daily, live Hooked Up updates, featuring BASS emcee Keith Alan, throughout each day’s competition. The updates will air at the top of the hour, beginning at 10 a.m. ET.

Chapman started fast Thursday, boating three keepers with a crankbait in the first 15 minutes of competition. But the real windfall came later at his second spot. Throwing a jig to the shallows, Chapman took advantage of aggressive fish that he felt moved up to the area just hours before he arrived.

Surprised that he was alone in the spot, Chapman was able to upgrade his weight. With Dardanelle poised to absorb some serious overnight rain, the 36-year-old was worried that his spot would be muddied and perhaps not as productive, but he said he plans to visit the same area Friday. With a victory, Chapman would push his BASS career earnings to more than $1 million.

Menendez attributed his Day One success to his unique approach of using an aluminum rig with a 90-horsepower engine. His five-fish limit was buoyed by a 6-pounder, the biggest bass in the field, which was caught while he was targeting a 3-pounder.

“It’s your turn when things like that happen,” said Menendez, 44. “I had such a blast today. It was like getting back to my old roots. The boat proved to be very effective.”

Despite his success, Menendez was unsure whether he would use the aluminum boat or his typical Skeeter rig for Day Two. The two-time BASS event winner practiced with both scenarios and found success, but with the impending onslaught of rain and poor conditions set for Friday, he felt that the aluminum rig might not be the best choice.

Just 7 ounces behind Menendez was Jones. Like Chapman, he was aided by the shortened day. He abandoned his original pattern — sight fishing — for a secondary plan he developed in practice.

Early in the day, he totaled a solid weight using the pattern, which he didn’t want to detail, and was then able to revisit his sight-fishing bite. In the last hour of competition, he was able to capitalize on an area he had to himself. He located two fish, both more than 3 pounds, and was able to catch them, leaving just enough time to get back to the docks to check in.

With a second-place showing at the Elite season-opener on Lake Amistad, another solid finish would boost Jones in staking an impressive early claim in the points race for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and its accompanying $200,000 top prize.

Notables Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., (9th) and Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., (11th) fared well and are within striking distance. Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., who won the 2007 Bassmaster Major on Dardanelle with 55 pounds, 9 ounces, was 33rd.

After Friday, the field will be cut to the top 50 competitors. The final day of competition, Sunday, will feature the top 12 anglers. Part of the Arkansas River Valley, the 34,300-acre Lake Dardanelle has been host to five BASS events.

The Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive includes a top prize of $100,000 and awards valuable points in the 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title race. Fans are encouraged to attend daily launches (7:15 a.m. CT) and weigh-ins (4 p.m.) through Sunday at Lake Dardanelle State Park, 100 State Park Drive, Russellville. Sunday’s activities include the live taping of Hooked Up, hosted by ESPN Outdoors personalities Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders. The show, which will air live at 4:30 p.m. ET on Bassmaster.com, will preview Sunday’s final weigh-in. Other activities Saturday and Sunday at the Diamond Drive, including Dog Training & Retriever Demonstrations Brought To You By Sport Dog, will begin at 1 p.m. CT at Lake Dardanelle State Park. Product demonstrations from Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Motors, OPTIMA Batteries and more will be available on site. Fans are invited to join the “Ask the Experts” session with the Elite pros during Bassmaster University, set for 3 p.m. CT Saturday. All events at the Diamond Drive are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com. Visit ESPNMediaZone.com for ESPN’s latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video, audio clips and more.

Local sponsors of the Diamond Drive are the State of Arkansas and Russellville A&P Commission.

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine; Bass Pro Shops, Costa Del Mar, Ramada, SpongeTech and Triton Boats.

TOYOTA TRUCKS DIAMOND DRIVE DAY 1

2009 Diamond Drive 3/26-3/29 Lake Dardanelle, Russellville AR. (PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1

Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Brent Chapman Lake Quivira, KS 5 19-07 305 Day 1: 5 19-07

2. Mark Menendez Paducah, KY 5 17-12 295 Day 1: 5 17-12

3. Alton Jones Waco, TX 5 17-05 290 Day 1: 5 17-05

4. Matt Herren Trussville, AL 5 17-01 285 Day 1: 5 17-01

5. Fred Roumbanis Bixby, OK 5 16-12 280 Day 1: 5 16-12

6. Cliff Pace Petal, MS 5 16-11 276 Day 1: 5 16-11

7. Denny Brauer Camdenton, MO 5 16-06 272 Day 1: 5 16-06

8. Chris Lane Lakeland, FL 5 15-14 268 Day 1: 5 15-14

9. Skeet Reese Auburn, CA 5 15-13 264 Day 1: 5 15-13

10. Billy Mccaghren Mayflower, AR 5 15-11 260 Day 1: 5 15-11

11. Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, MI 5 15-06 257 Day 1: 5 15-06

12. Stephen Browning Hot Springs National Pa 5 15-05 254 Day 1: 5 15-05

13. Tommy Biffle Wagoner, OK 5 15-02 251 Day 1: 5 15-02

14. Bill Lowen North Bend, OH 5 15-01 248 Day 1: 5 15-01

15. Kelly Jordon Mineola, TX 5 14-14 245 Day 1: 5 14-14

15. Gary Klein Weatherford, TX 5 14-14 245 Day 1: 5 14-14

15. Dean Rojas Lake Havasu City, AZ 5 14-14 245 Day 1: 5 14-14

18. Shaw E Grigsby Gainesville, FL 4 14-13 239 Day 1: 4 14-13

19. Todd Faircloth Jasper, TX 5 14-11 237 Day 1: 5 14-11

20. James Niggemeyer Van, TX 5 14-06 235 Day 1: 5 14-06



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