After the first day of the BASS Masters Classic in North Carolina, defending champion David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., found himself in 28th place, more than 9 pounds behind the tournament leader, Claude Fishburne.
Fishburne, an eight-year veteran of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society's professional tour with only seven top 10 finishes in his career, had caught five bass for 14 pounds, 10 ounces.
Fritts, the BASS Angler of the Year with 14 top 10 finishes this season, caught two bass for 5 pounds, 6 ounces -- and High Rock Lake near Greensboro, N.C., is the impoundment on which Fritts learned to fish.
Fritts, understandably a local favorite, said he was followed throughout the day by as many as 60 spectator boats.
"I just tried to go out and pretend that no one was there," Fritts said at the weigh-in. "I just tried to go out and go fishing."
But while Fritts was attracting the attention, Fishburne of Canton, Ga., was busy experimenting in relative solitude.
"I am fishing a variety of lures, just trying to mix it up," said Fishburne. "I mapped out 60 places [during practice sessions earlier in the summer] and fished maybe 15 of them today.
"Tomorrow [today] I'll try to fish more places. I don't know if I can catch as many fish each day."
The top five
1. Claude Fishburne, Canton, Ga., 14 pounds, 10 ounces; 2. Dion Hibdon, Stover, Mo., 12-8; 3. Mickey Bruce, Buford, Ga., 11-15; 4. Bryan Kerchal, Newtown, Conn., 11-2; 5. Guido Hibdon, Gravois Mills, Mo., 10-7.