Jim Dillard of West
Monroe, La., is on a quest to fulfill his career-long dream: To qualify
for the Bassmaster Classic. He’s been fishing professionally for the
past 7 years, mostly on another circuit, but has recently made the
switch to the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens for a crack at the
Classic. The 2012 Northern Open is being held out of Richmond, Va., June
Though Dillard is miles from home, he feels comfortable fishing the tidal James River system.
“The good Lord shined down on me
today,” he said as he weighed in 17-1 on Day 1 of the first 2012
Northern Open. “I feel real comfortable fishing a system like this
because I grew up fishing the Red and Ouachita rivers; there is a lot of
the same stuff here.”
Open comes on the heels of another tournament Dillard fished, which
meant he only had one day of practice on the James. However, he
immediately fell into a rhythm the first day.
where and how I wanted to fish, and I got a good bite early on and just
rolled with it,” Dillard said. “It’s a lot of junk fishing in pads,
stumps and wood, so there’s really no pattern except fish everything in
also credits a high tide for his bite. Though tomorrow’s tide will
likely be different, he plans on sticking to what got him to the top.
He’s currently leading the Luck “E” Strike Heavyweight Award, which
gives the pro with the heaviest 5-fish limit a $500 bonus at the end of
the tournament. Former Elite Series pro Ben Parker of Springville,
Tenn., leads the Carhartt Big Bass Award with a 6-1 largemouth. Dillard
currently has just more than a pound lead over current runner-up Kevin
Hawk of Guntersville, Ala.
relied on a Yamamoto Senko all day, and said that he had to work it
at a snail’s pace to get a bite. His 5-fish limit weighed 15-14. In
third place is Steven Colgin with 15-11; in fourth is Whitney Stephens
with 15-9; and in fifth is Allan Glasgow with 15-2.
pros are vying for a grand prize of a boat and cash worth roughly
$50,000, as well as a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic to be held in
Tulsa, Okla., on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees this coming February. To claim the Classic spot, the Open winner must compete in all three of the division’s tournaments.
co-angler division, Randy Bowles of Lanexa, Va., leads the pack with a
whopping 10-pound, 4-ounce three-fish limit. He said that the high water
that blessed Dillard made fishing tough for him today.
“I had to fish really slow; it was a grind,” he said. “That high tide makes ’em act different.”
Bowles flipped a jig in shallow
water. Behind him is Donnie Mead of Richmond, Va., with 10-1. In third
place is Alan Jackson (no relation to the singer) with 9-11. In fourth
is Robert Seymour with 9-7; and in fifth place is Ian Miller with 8-14.
Co-anglers are vying for a top prize of a fully rigged Skeeter/Yamaha
boat and motor package.