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‘Slow’ First Day: Anglers find few good bites in Pine Bluff


There was definitely a buzzword among those fishing the Pine Bluff pool of the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza on Friday.

Slow.

“It’s been slow today,” said Brian Pennington. “I only caught the two fish that I weighed.”

“Slow,” said Tim Gartman. “It’s slow. There’s some biting but it’s maybe one here and there.”

“It was slow,” said Ronnie Hackney. “It looks like it’s been a slow day for everybody.

“I just had one good bite.”

One good bite, another theme of the pool on the first day of the three-day tournament.

It seemed especially true for local anglers. A local fisher won five of the six weigh-ins, while locals swept four of the weigh-in periods. Even with all the local success, it’s Greenbrier resident Terry Stewart who leads the pool after Day 1 with a haul of 5.13 lbs., brought in during the first weigh period.

Hackney’s one good bite earned him the top spot in the final weigh-in of the day at 1 p.m. with a weight of 4.71 lbs.

“There just weren’t a lot of fish,” the 51-year-old from Star City said. “I probably caught six or seven that I threw back.

“The weather was great, so I don’t know what it was.”

Pennington, of White Hall, won the noon weigh-in with a 4.45-pound catch. The 45-year-old said he only weighed two fish the whole day. Pennington said the only reason he weighed a catch earlier in the day was to try and win the $300 gift card from Academy Sports given out for an exactly three-pound fish weighed in during the third weigh period.

“Most of them were small,” he said of the fish he caught. “Then after the rain stopped, I caught three fish in 10 minutes (the last being his 4.45-pounder).

“Haven’t been back out since.”

Cletus Gartman, of Redfield, finished on top at the 11 a.m. weigh-in with a 4.11-pound catch and also earned second place behind Hackney in the 1 p.m. weigh-in with a 3.6-pounder.

“It’s been OK,” the 66-year-old said. “We’ve had some good luck, some bad luck and no luck at all.”

Gartman said he had little trouble catching fish, just trouble finding the big one.

“We were throwing back keeper fish,” he said. “The little two-, three-pounders that are nice, but won’t get you in the money.”

Gartman said it was nice to enjoy the experience with his son, Tim, who didn’t have as successful a day.

“It was alright,” Tim Gartman said. “Caught some two-, three-pounders. Had a four-pounder jump off.”

It was a far cry from his success at the Pine Bluff pool in 2013.

“I had four first-place winners last year,” Tim Gartman said. “I think my dad had one second place and a third place.

“And I had the fourth-highest overall in the whole pool.”

Considering the Gartman’s success last year at the Pine Bluff pool, it’s possible Friday was just a slow day for them. But with just 51 fish weighed during the seven-hour tournament day, maybe it was a slow day for the whole pool.

Or maybe it’s setting up to be a slow weekend.

“It’s going to be tough,” Pennington said of Saturday. “It’s supposed to be cool with another chance of rain.

“Hopefully, it will be a good day. We’ll see what happens.”