GROVE, Okla. – Grand Lake proved an uphill battle for many of the 219 pros and Strike King co-anglers on Day 1 of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Plains Division event. Yet, Chad Warren found a way to top the leaderboard with 23 pounds, 8 ounces at the end of the day. He holds just a 12-ounce advantage over second-place Brad Jelinek. Cole Breeden and Kevin Miller also boasted bags over the 20-pound mark, and Blake Capps rounded out the top five with 19-11.
“I didn’t catch a whole lot of fish,” Warren said. “At about 10 or 11 o’clock I only had two fish. I pulled into a pocket and a big group of them had moved up and I caught what I weighed. I culled out my last three fish around 12:30 or 1 and left.”
The flurry only ceased when Warren decided to let his fish rest for the next two days of competition. Warren is certainly aware of the changing weather conditions hitting Grand Lake. Friday’s forecast calls for frigid weather at takeoff, before giving way to a clear sky and temps in the low 50s around midday. Other than having to add a layer or two to his morning attire, Warren thinks he can overcome the weather changes in the coming days of competition.
“I didn’t fish a lot of my stuff, so I think I have a few places I can still catch a few,” he said. “I’m hoping there will be a morning bite. But I haven’t been catching a lot until the afternoon anyways. I think the sun will help. I think it’s going to make things tougher on the majority of the field. I don’t think it will affect me.”
Warren knows that he’s on a pattern to do well on Grand. He said he’s covering a lot of water and depth zones with moving baits to get his offering in front of as many fish as possible.
“I’m winding,” he said. “Today I got on a shallower bite. I’ve been fishing anywhere from 25 feet to zero. I’ve got a lot of experience here. I grew up fishing this lake and I’ve found a ton of areas where they stage and where they winter, but today it was more of a focus on shallow because the last couple of days were warmer.”
Warren has a long history on Grand, but a Toyota Series win has eluded him so far.
“I don’t have any Toyota Series wins yet, I have a third and a fifth-place finish,” he said. “I only came here to win. I’m fishing for big ones. I don’t care if I don’t have a fish in the boat until the last minute, I’m fishing for big ones. I’ve been runner-up, I cannot tell you how many times, in team tournaments here. I was close to winning both of those Toyotas and stupid stuff happened and I didn’t get it done. But I’m here to win this time. I’m pretty excited, to be honest with you.”
1. Chad Warren – 23 – 08 (5)
2. Brad Jelinek – 22 – 12 (5)
3. Cole Breeden – 21 – 03 (5)
4. Kevin Miller – 20 – 05 (5)
5. Blake Capps – 19 – 11 (5)
6. Jordan Hartman – 19 – 10 (5)
7. Austin Culbertson – 18 – 00 (5)
8. Tyler Darling – 17 – 14 (4)
9. Mike McClelland – 17 – 06 (5)
10. Billy Lemon – 16 – 08 (5)
Westville, Oklahoma, Strike King co-angler Travis Snyder sits atop the leaderboard after Day 1 with 14-11 for four. He holds a 3-pound 10-ounce lead over Scott Neiheisel who brought the right tandem of fish to the scales on Day 1. The pair went 11-1 and included a Big Bass weighing 7 pounds even. Grand Lake’s challenging weather this week is hitting the co-anglers the hardest as nobody in the field caught a limit, and the Top 25 cutline sits at only 4-2 presently.