The two anglers with the most impressive total were Nebraska anglers Jamee Guggenmos and Chadd Murray, who ended up at the top of the numerical heap with a total of 12.90 pounds for a three-fish basket. A seven pounder that didn't come until the middle of the day, made the difference in their day-one total. Murray, a doctor from Kearney, Nebraska, boated the big fish, and all of their fish came pulling three-ways with a one ounce sinker and leeches for bait. "We don't know rivers very well, but that's a technique that has worked for us, so we're going to stick with it tomorrow," Guggenmos said.
A number of different techniques were mentioned during the on-stage interviews, much of the field echoed the quandary of the leaders. For a large number of teams, this is their first time fishing a river, and many were baffled by the challenges of fishing in such a heavy current. However, the second place team had no such problem.
While many felt that local anglers would have a major advantage, with so many novice river rats in the field, in the top five positions only one local team claimed a spot. Hometown favorites, Maury Schmerbach and Mike Glynn came to the scales with a five-fish limit, one of only 5 weighed today. Their total of 12.24 was strong enough to put them in second place, less than a pound back.
Third place is held by Rick Bryson and Jay Motszko, of Arcadia, Wisconsin, with a 11.16 pound basket. In fourth place, with a weight of 10 pounds, are a father and son team, Lonnie and Alan Baumgardner, from White Hall, Maryland. The Baumbardners are also the current leaders in the race for the Stihl chain saw big fish award. Their big, and only weigh-fish tipped the scales at 10 pounds even.
"We only caught one keeper today, pulling Tennessee Shad colored Model "A" Bombers in ten feet of water. Guess we'll do the same tomorrow. We were catching fish, just not the right ones. We had a 20-1/2" and a 21" fish, eight all together. But we had a great day. My dad's been taking me fishing since I was three years old. Now I'm happy to be taking him," Alan said.
The fractions of an ounce that separate many of the positions in the tournament means that tomorrow's standings can, and most certainly will change dramatically, as successful teams attempt to duplicate their catches and others find a change of technique or luck swings their fortunes upward.
While the difference in several positions is measured in hundredths of an ounce, the gap between fifth and sixth is singular, only 1/100. Bruce Brasser and Jim Stull, of Rockford, Michigan have fifth place with a weight of 9.49 and Chad Miller and Carl Heller have sixth with 9.48. Both teams had five fish limits.
Three spots in the top 25 are tied with identical weights. In 21st place, John and James Lass of Antioch, Illinois are tied at 4.95 pounds with Brian Mensing and Tom De Berg of Gillette, Wyoming.
Kevin Oyen and John Marshall of Dubuque are tied with Kansas anglers Randy Wheeler and Virgil Michaels, with a matching weight of 4.48.
Rounding out the top 25 places with a total of 4.46 pounds, are the Colorado team of Jerry Leech and Rick Bishop, tied with the Dubuque team of Marty Berns and Jeff Lahr.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about today's results is that virtually no one in the field is out of the hunt, even those who blanked out today. With the stingy nature of the Mississippi, who is reluctantly giving up her walleye, the tables could turn tomorrow and reveal a whole new set of challenges.
Today, anglers found the river temperature had dropped several degrees, due to heavy rains in the region, and risen another foot to 10.6, which is on the high side of normal levels for this part of the river. In the past two days, the river's level has risen around two feet. During the weigh-in, a light shower sent the throng of cheering fans running for cover to the protection of Dubuque beautiful riverside convention center, where tournament activities are taking place. After the ceremonies were over another storm was making its way over the dispersing crowd, so rain may continue to alter the river's level, and angler's fortunes.
The final day of this prestigious team tournament will determine who takes home $25,000 in cash and a new Ranger boat for first place. No matter how the fish totals shake out tomorrow, that's one number that every team wants to see beside their name.