HOUSTON — Pierre Part national touring pro angler Cliff Crochet said he would come out swinging for this tournament, the 47th Bassmaster Classic, and he did.
Crochet, working the backwaters off windswept Lake Conroe, brought in a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 8 ounces to stand in third place after Friday's first day of the three-day Classic. The weigh-in was held in Minute Maid Park.
Only problem for Crochet and the rest of the 512-angler field is that California pro Brent Ehrler was swinging in the day's heaviest largemouth, a giant weighing 9-12, a bass that separated him from the field with a 23-3 total and the lead going into Saturday's second round.
With the field cut to the top 25 after the second round, Louisiana anglers Ryan Lavigne and Greg Hackney — both from Gonzales — are in the running to stick around Sunday.
Lavigne, who qualified through Bassmaster-affiliated clubs, is 17th after his five-bass limit ran the scales to 16-10.
Hackney, the national touring pro and one-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year, has work to do. He's in 26th place, His five bass weighed 13-6.
Rounding out the top five are second-place Kentucky angler Bradley Roy (22-1), former Classic champion Mike Iaconelli (21-2) in fourth, and, in fifth, Arizona fisherman Clifford Pirch (20-11).
Defending Classic champion Edwin Evers holds the 13th place (18-3).
Conditions were rough on the east Texas reservoir with 20-25 knot south winds whipping up four-foot waves on the main lake, which is why finding bass in the lee of the win paid off for the top anglers.
For the final two days, "Classic Live" airs on the Bassmaster website: www.bassmaster.com from 7-10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Saturday's weigh-in and leaderboard can be seen on the same website beginning at 4:30 p.m.