Secrets are the name of the game in tournament bass fishing, be they locations or techniques.
But the father-son duo of Alex and Darrell Keszler brought out their secret weapon while pre-fishing for the 2010 Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
Alex’s daughter, Amanda, joined the pair in the boat before the tournament, allowing them to experiment with different areas and techniques.
Darrell credited that flexibility with helping them secure the lead after Day 1 yesterday with 20.10 pounds.
“She showed us two spots,” he recalled. “She caught one big smallie [smallmouth bass] off of each of these two spots, which really helped us today.
“We got three of our ‘weigh’ fish in those two spots.
“She caught ’em, and if she hadn’t, we never would have fished there,” Keszler added.
“It’s just the fact of having that third line in the boat in practice,” he stressed.
“She uses something different or I use something weird.”
The Keszlers, who finished second in 2008 and were third back in 2004, took note of the best areas they found before the tournament and made a point of hitting them up on Day 1.
“Russian roulette” as the duo referred to the strategy.
“We felt today that we got the biggest day that we could get in this tournament,” Alex Keszler reasoned.
“We stuck to our guns and it did work out,” he noted. “It’s not often that it works out like that.”
The pair hauled in a just 12 bass altogether yesterday, and lost only one fish “that might have made a difference,” said Alex.
But while the fish were few and far between, the ones they caught were good-sized.
The 20.10-pound bag is their highest as a team since entering the FFCBC together in 2001.
Alex has participated in every FFCBC, fishing as Phil Killeen’s partner from 1995-2000.
“The way the pre-fish was, [it] was not too bad, but we’re accustomed to catching a few more about here,” noted Darrell.
The pair fished seven different spots yesterday, holding out for a decent return on their time spent, eventually catching at least one bass at each location.
“That tells you how spaced out our fish pattern was,” Darrell explained.
“We sat a long time to catch a fish on one spot. We felt there were big ones,” added Alex.
Darrell said he kept his faith in Alex’s steadfast patience on certain spots, but admitted he crossed his fingers at midday when they had just four fish in the boat.
“I never doubt him, but in the back of my head I was like, ‘Please let him be right again,’” Darrell recalled.
Perhaps the most intimidating fact to come out of the first day is that the pair didn’t have to resort to any secondary plans, saving them for Day 2 today.
The finale still may be a bit of a crapshoot, though.
“We left Plan ‘B’ for the rest of the tournament,” Alex maintained.
“We figured if we hit Plan ‘B’ on Day 1, there might not be enough fish for three days, and there still might not be,” he warned.
Dorian Lindholm and Bill Wilcox sat in second place after Day 1 with a 19.63-pound total, followed by Mark Raveling and Mike Luhman in third (19.11) and David Skallet and Jim Merthan in fourth (18.62).
Bryan Gustafson and Jamie Bruce were tied for fifth with Frank McClymont and Albert Trudeau at 17.61 pounds.
Rounding out the top 10 on Day 1 were Trevor Guderyan and Dean Tacknyk (17.60), Randy Amenrud and Brian Amenrud (17.56), Pat Jeffries and Kurt Johnson (17.32), and Eric Kielb and David Hartig (17.13).
Three-time defending champs Joe Thrun and Jim Moynagh were in 13th place after Day 1 with 16.73 pounds while three-time champion Norm Lindsay, partnered with Andrew Rogozinski, was is 16th with 16.19 pounds.
James Lindner and Bill Lindner, the FFCBC champs in 2003 and 2004, were in 40th with 14.74 pounds.
The 2001 champs, Kent and Steve Ballan, who captured the Safeway KidPro tournament on Sunday, had a rough first day, sitting 92nd with just 10.05 pounds.
The Day 2 weigh-in gets underway at 3:30 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena, with the final weigh-in going tomorrow starting at 3 p.m.