• Palatka’s Cliff Prince puts a bass in his boat during Thursday's first day of the Bassmater Elite. (GREG WALKER / Special To The Daily News)
  • Bassmaster Elite first-day leader Robbie Latuso shows off part of his catch on Thursday. (GREG WALKER / Special To The Daily News)

Bassmaster Elite: Louisiana Leader

Latuso in front as first day weights prove heavier than many expected

Robbie Latuso of Gonzales, La., took the day-one lead at the BASS Elite Bass Tournament Thursday at Palatka Riverfront with a five-fish limit weighing 25.02 pounds. Latuso said his day started out slow, but as temperatures rose, he began finding fish. 

Giving out no secrets to the big crowd of spectators, he did say he felt the area he was fishing would produce again today.

Lower weights were predicted by many anglers but the top 10 proved them wrong with each bringing 20-plus pound creels to the scales at the 4 p.m. weigh-in.

John Crews Jr. of Salem, Va., was second with 24.13 pounds, but in his sack was a behemoth largemouth tipping the scales at 11.02 pounds.

“I didn’t have much to go by starting out,” said Crews. “I had a poor pre-fish time. I spotted the big fish and dropped my lure in front of her and she bit. I underestimated her weight at first.”

In third was veteran angler Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky. who was close behind with a weight of 24.08 pounds. Menendez said he too was not able to find many fish during pre-fish. 

“I moved a few times and as the day warmed up the fish began to move up,” he said.

Brad Whatley of Bivins, Texas, was fourth with 23.04 pounds. Micah Frazier of Newnan, Ga,, took fifth with 22.8 pounds. The 20-plus pounders ended with Shane Lehew of Catawba, N.C. with 20.8 pounds.

Cliff Prince of Palatka had a good day, scoring 18.03 pounds. 

“I’m okay with this weight today. If I do that or better tomorrow, I think I will be in good shape,” he said.

Prince finished sixth in the St. Johns River Elite event in 2016 with 73.06 pounds. Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., was in 23rd place Thursday. Clunn won the 2016 Elite with a whopping 81.15 pounds.

Only two anglers in the 75-man field turned in zero weights Thursday.

The Elite will launch from Palatka City Dock at 7:30 a.m. with a 4 p.m. weigh-in at the riverfront park.  During morning hours breakfast will be available for the public, served by Jerry Stalvey’s Catering Service. During the tournament there will food and merchandise vendors, games and contests.

Palatka Daily News

1825 St. Johns Ave.
Palatka, FL 32177
(386) 312-5200


Follow Us on Facebook