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Jason Christie Leads First Day of 2018 BASS Classic

After one day of fishing on Lake Hartwell, the leaderboard for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods has a familiar look.

Oklahoma angler Jason Christie leads the way, with Edwin Evers — a fellow Okie and Christie’s roommate on the Bassmaster Elite Series — sitting close behind in second.

Christie said a change in strategy near the mid-point of Day 1 helped him to his tournament-best weight of 20 pounds, 14 ounces.

“I’ve got two little deals going, and I did the first little deal for the first three or four hours,” said Christie, who claimed the GEICO Everyday Leader Award of $2,500. “But then it just kind of ran out.

“I changed it up and actually caught a 5-pounder — and that gave me a clue. So, I just ran with it and ended up culling everything I had.”

Christie said he caught fish all day, but patience was required for finding the type of big fish that helps an angler win the Classic.

“They’re all on the same kind of stuff, but you just don’t know where the big ones are going to come from,” he said. “You’ll catch a 2-pounder, a 2-pounder and then finally a 5-pounder.”

Evers, who brought in 19-9 Friday, got off to a fast start with a good early-morning bite that he said might have been due to bass feeding on blueback herring.

“I honestly don’t know what they were doing,” he said. “I got really lucky and found a place that had a bunch of fish in it. It was an early-morning deal. I caught them every cast.”

Like Christie, Evers caught his biggest fish — two largemouth that each weighed 4-10 — in the afternoon hours.

“Those fish came around 12:30 or 1 o’clock,” he said. “It made for a better day than I thought I was going to have. I thought I was going to catch 16 or 17 pounds and maybe get a couple of big bites to push that up — and that’s what happened.”

The last time these two anglers waged a close battle in a Classic was 2016 on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in their home state. Back then, Christie led the first two days, only to see Evers overcome him with a giant catch on the final day.

With two days left to fish on Hartwell, there are several other anglers who are within excellent striking distance of the $300,000 first-place prize, including reigning Classic champion Jordan Lee of Alabama.

Lee, who raised the Classic trophy last year on Lake Conroe in Texas after struggling the first day, had a solid opening round on Hartwell, bringing in five bass that weighed 18-10.

“It was fun to come out and have a good start for a change, especially when you consider that I wasn’t really on anything in practice,” Lee said. “I fished a lot of boat docks today, and that’s what I really like to do. I didn’t get many bites, but I caught a few big ones.”

California angler Brent Ehrler is in fourth with 17-8, followed by Tennessee’s Ott DeFoe (16-8) and yet another Oklahoma pro, James Elam (16-7).

Alabama angler Mark Daniels Jr. took the lead in the race for Berkley Big Bass with a largemouth that weighed 6-11.

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  

1.  Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            5  20-14   
2.  Edwin Evers            Talala, OK               5  19-09    
3.  Jordan Lee             Grant, AL                5  18-10    
4.  Brent Ehrler           Redlands, CA             5  17-08       
5.  Ott DeFoe              Blaine, TN               5  16-08    
6.  James Elam             Tulsa, OK                5  16-07    
7.  Jacob Wheeler          Harrison, TN             5  16-01   
8.  Mark Daniels Jr.       Tuskegee, AL             5  15-14   
9.  Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL         5  15-13   
10. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY              5  15-12    
11. Dustin Connell         Clanton, AL              5  15-05   
11. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC              5  15-05   
13. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA  5  15-04   
14. Casey Ashley           Donalds, SC              5  15-00   
15. Alton Jones            Lorena, TX               5  14-09   
16. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI            5  14-07   
17. Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL                5  14-02   
18. Matt Lee               Guntersville, AL         5  14-01   
19. Ryan Butler            Blue Eye, MO             5  14-00  
19. Luke Clausen           Otis Orchards, WA        5  14-00   
21. Cliff Pace             Petal, MS                5  13-13   
22. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA                5  13-12   
23. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               5  13-11    
24. Mark Davis             Mount Ida, AR            5  13-10    
25. Josh Bertrand          San Tan Valley, AZ       5  13-09    
26. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               5  13-07    
27. Brandon Palaniuk       Hayden, ID               5  13-00    
28. Mike McClelland        Bentonville, AR          5  12-15    
29. Seth Feider            Bloomington, MN          5  12-14    
30. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA           5  12-11    
31. Jesse Wiggins          Cullman, AL              5  12-10    
32. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC           5  12-08    
33. Todd Faircloth         Jasper, TX               5  12-03    
34. John Cox               Debary, FL               5  12-02   
34. Michael Iaconelli      Pitts Grove, NJ          5  12-02    
36. Stanley Sypeck Jr      Sugarloaf, PA            5  12-01    
36. David Walker           Sevierville, TN          5  12-01    
38. Jacob Foutz            Charleston, TN           5  11-15    
39. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  11-08  
40. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               5  11-07   
41. Russ Lane              Prattville, AL           5  11-05    
42. Randy Howell           Guntersville, AL         5  11-02   
43. Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA             5  11-00    
44. Brandon Coulter        Knoxville, TN            5  10-14  
45. Bradley Roy            Lancaster, KY            5  10-13    
46. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           5  10-09    
47. Luke Gritter           Otsego, MI               5  10-05    
48. Bobby Lane Jr.         Lakeland, FL             5  10-02    
49. Marty Giddens          Cropwell, AL             5  09-08    
50. Rick Morris            Lake Gaston, VA          5  08-02    
51. Carl Svebek  III       Siloam Springs, AR       5  08-00    
52. Skeet Reese            Auburn, CA               0  00-00