The word of the day was tough. Angler after angler who crossed the weigh-in stage at the Bassmaster Elite at Potomac River presented by Econo Lodge used it.
The fishery itself has been the subject of some tough talk with people saying its declined in quality the last few years. So much so that Maryland Department of Natural Resources put some stiff regulations in place for tournaments that nearly kept this one from happening.
But on Thursday it showed the Potomac showed off some of it's old luster, especially for a trio of guys who grew up fishing the west coast.
Justin Lucas brought 20 pounds 4 ounces to the stage to sit atop the Day 1 leader board.
“I think the river has taken a little hit the last couple of years, but there’s more grass growing this year than there has been the past two or three years,” Lucas said. “That really helps the weights in a tournament.
“The bass get up in there and eat bluegill and whatever baitfish they can — and it fattens them up.”
Gerald Swindle, the current leader in the Angler of the Year standings extended his lead over Keith Combs to 44 points after Thursday. And it didn't come easy for him.
“Anybody who looks at my weight and thinks I really caught them, needs to talk to my marshal,” said Swindle, who brought in 16-5. “It was a grind. At one point, I told (my marshal) ‘I ain’t getting no bites; I’m lost; I’ve burned 30 gallons of gas.’ It was just tough.”
“It was truly a blessing. I don’t really get all sappy about crazy stuff like that. But I believe sometimes, when you’re meant to catch them, you’re just meant to catch them."
Because of new regulations implemented by DNR this year, B.A.S.S. put special fish care measures in place, including an incredibly quick weigh-in that saw more than 100 anglers cross the state in less than 90 minutes.
Day 2 kicks off Friday morning at 6:15 a.m. with takeoff from Smallwood State Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park's marina area at 3 p.m.
*Jeff Herman is the assistant news director at WMAR | ABC2. His main passion while not at work is fishing. This column is part of a series of columns he writes for our outdoors page. You can read more of his columns here. Follow him on Twitter @JeffABC2News and @TightLinesABC2