KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Andrew Slegona’s first fishing trip to Florida is off to a memorable start. The Walker Valley, N.Y., angler jumped to the first-day lead in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #1 presented by Allstate on Lake Tohopekaliga with a whopping 31 pounds, 2 ounces.
The former construction worker, who built subway tunnels in New York before pursuing a career in pro fishing, was aided by a pair of lunkers weighing 9-1 and 8-10. He had his big bag by 10:30 in the morning.
“I caught them out of one area and never saw a boat come within 300 yards of where I was fishing,” said Slegona, who spent last week fishing nearby Florida waters to tune up for the event. “I found this spot in practice, and today I realized I was really onto something.”
Slegona said he was flipping hydrilla in 10 feet of water.
“The thing is, this is a morning spot, and I hope they’re in there tomorrow (Friday), too,” he added.
Two-time Bassmaster Junior World Champion Joey Nania of Cropwell, Ala., is second with 25-1; Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., had 24-9; Garrett Rocamora of Lithia, Fla., 24-4; and Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn. 20-13.
Nania’s sack was even more impressive considering it also included a pair of scrawny 1-pounders, but was helped with bass weighing 8-3 and 8-12.
“I’ve always struggled here. I’ve had so many let-downs fishing in Florida, this really felt good,” he said. “I had been fishing fast, covering a lot of water, but when my co-angler caught a good one fishing slow, I decided to slow it down. That’s when I caught the 8-12 and figured it out.”
Daniel Lanier Jr. of Winter Springs, Fla., topped the co-angler division with three bass weighing 11-9. Craig Cullen of Vero Beach, Fla., was second with 11-4; and Steve Jarrett of Valrico, Fla., was third with 11-2.
Rocamora set the bar for the Carhartt Big Bass prize with an 11-9 brute. Brock Mosely of Mississippi had the second biggest bass, a 9-15.
Despite the number of 8-pound-plus bass caught on Thursday, the overall weights were down. Fiftieth place was only 10-10. Cooling weather with overcast conditions hampered the bed fishing activities and, as some anglers said, the fish were scattered.
“The water is high and the fish are hard to pinpoint,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins, in eighth place. “The sun is supposed to shine tomorrow, and that will help position the fish in areas where we can catch ’em better.”
The competitors will take off each day at 7 a.m. ET at Big Toho Marina. Weigh-ins will be held at 3 p.m. ET at the marina Friday, but the final weigh-in on Saturday will be held at the Bass Pro Shops in Orlando at 4 p.m. ET.
Top Twelve after day one
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open – Lake Toho Presented by Allstate 1/15-1/17 Lake Toho, Kissimmee FL. (BOATER) Standings Day 1
Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts
1. Andrew Slegona Jr Walker Valley, NY 5 31-02 200
Day 1: 5 31-02
2. Joey Nania Cropwell, AL 5 25-01 199
Day 1: 5 25-01
3. Brandon McMillan Clewiston, FL 5 24-09 198
Day 1: 5 24-09
4. Garrett Rocamora Lithia, FL 5 24-04 197
Day 1: 5 24-04
5. Brad Knight Lancing, TN 5 20-13 196
Day 1: 5 20-13
6. Blake Nick Adger, AL 5 19-10 195
Day 1: 5 19-10
7. Brock Mosley Collinsville, MS 5 19-09 194
Day 1: 5 19-09
8. Terry Scroggins San Mateo, FL 5 19-00 193
Day 1: 5 19-00
9. Kelley Jaye Dadeville, AL 5 17-05 192
Day 1: 5 17-05
10. Colby Flinn Linden, TN 5 17-04 191
Day 1: 5 17-04
11. Justin Lucas Guntersville, AL 5 16-15 190
Day 1: 5 16-15
12. Chad Morgenthaler Coulterville, IL 5 16-07 189
Day 1: 5 16-07
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Presenting Sponsor: Allstate
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Evan Williams, GoPro, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2015 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Huk Performance Fishing, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
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