MONROE — Thursday on Ouachita River turned out to be a great day for Gonzales angler Jamie Laiche.

He can’t do any better than being in first place after the opening round of the three-day Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, but challengers are staring him square in his face for the next two days.

Laiche ditched the idea of using his bass boat to navigate the shallows along the Ouachita, instead taking to a smaller bateau to get into off-the-beaten-path locations to catch Thursday’s five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces. Fabian Rodriguez is second at 14-8.

But Laiche has to be concerned about more than Rodriguez. Laiche is vying with nine other anglers representing states and countries lumped into the Nation’s Central Division. The division’s top angler in this event earns a berth in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic.

And he has challengers: Led by Texas’ Albert Collins (third place, 14-1) and Doug Thompson (fourth, 12-9), seven other Central Division competitors are in the top 20 among the 59-angler field.

Launch is 6:15 a.m. and weigh-ins are set for 2:30 p.m. through Saturday at Forsythe Park Boat Launch. Live weigh-ins can be seen on Bassmasters’ website: