Maybe its only fitting that only five ounces separate Jason Christie and Jimmy Houston following the first day of competition in the Walmart FLW Tour at Grand Lake.
After all, the pair live only about five miles apart in Cherokee County.
Christie, who lives at Park Hill, turned in a bag weighing 21 pounds, 12 ounces only 10 minutes after Houston — a Cookson resident — had taken the lead at 21-8.
“I exceeded expectations a little bit,” said Christie, who considers Grand his home lake. “I was hoping to catch 16 to 18 (pounds) and just stay there. I got lucky and pulled up on the right spot at the right time. They were there. I left and hoped nobody saw me. We will see what happens tomorrow.”
That came after a morning of struggles.
“At 12 o’clock, I was like ‘hey, this isn’t working and it’s time to do something different.’ It paid off,” said Christie, who landed two 3 ˝ pound bass within minutes of each other at his new location.
He thought that a dropping lake level had a lot to do with the abundance of fish. A total of 132 limit catches were recorded among the 147 anglers entered.
“I think it pulled a lot of fish out and set them where they needed to be,” Christie said. “The one thing about Grand is they can be here today and gone tomorrow. You just have to try to catch them coming out. It was just good timing. Hopefully I can hit them again tomorrow.”
Houston caught several fish in areas that he didn’t practice.
“A lot of places where I caught most of my fish today, there were hardly any other boats there,” he said. “That’s pretty unusual. You can hardly do that at a tournament today, the guys are so skilled. I hope there will be some fish there tomorrow.
He reiterated what Christie said: “I think a lot of those big fish moved in today.”
Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., was third with a total catch of 20 pounds, 12 ounces.
“We fished all over,” he said. “We fished on this upper end, but it seemed everywhere we went today, we caught fish. This lake is full of them.
“I had a lot more bites today than I did any day in practice.”
Randy Blaukat of Joplin, Mo., stands in fourth with five fish totaling 20 pounds, 3 ounces.
His total was bolstered by the day’s big catch, a 5 pound, 14 ounce largemouth. He picked up an extra $500 with the 3M ScotchBlue Big Bass Award.
Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas, set the early pace among the co-anglers with a total catch of 17 pounds, 11 ounces.
“It was a great day today. I caught a 5-pounder on my third cast of the day and probably caught two limits of fish overall,” Honeycutt told FLW. “But the miscues are what really hurts you. I wound up losing two 5-pounders flipping. They just jumped off. I really could have blown this tournament wide open. But that’s fishing.”
Mark Horton of Nicholasville, Ky., is second with 17 pounds, 9 ounces.
The field was cut following Friday’s competition.
Action on Saturday begins at 6:30 a.m., at Wolf Creek Park, with weigh-ins at 4 p.m. at Walmart, 2115 South Main, Grove.