Cleveland's Frank Scalish was in 42nd place.
By JACK WOLLITZ
SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Texan Jay Yelas had his best day ever Thursday in the CITGO BASS Masters Classic competition to grab a firm hold on first place in the world championship bass tournament.
Yelas snatched up 18 pounds, 9 ounces of Lay Lake largemouth and spotted bass to finish the first round more than 5 pounds ahead of second place Aaron Martens of California.
Cleveland's Frank Scalish, the lone Ohio angler in the Classic, weathered a tough day on the water to bring in four bass weighing 4 pounds, 3 ounces and found himself in 42nd place heading into today's second round.
The leader also hooked up with the day one lunker, a 6-pound, 2-ounce largemouth.
"Everything that happened to me was unexplainable," he said.
Yelas said he hooked the big fish soon after a pair of local anglers, who were fishing with live shad, moved out. He pitched his lure into the area and the lunker struck.
"This was the best day I ever have had in the Classic," he said.
Yelas tossed Berkley Frenzy crankbaits and Powerbait worms.
Martens, meanwhile, tossed topwater baits to sack his five-fish limit of spotted bass. His haul weighed 14 pounds, 1 ounce.
Scalish, fishing his first ever BASS Masters Classic, worked main lake bluffs and concentrated on deep water with a finesse-style plastic worm on 10-pound line.
"I needed the sun to shine to put those fish up on the structure," said Scalish, who battled overcast skies. "Instead the fish were suspended and roaming, and that made them difficult to catch."
The tournament continues today on Lay Lake, about 35 miles south of Birmingham. Action wraps up Saturday afternoon when the 2002 Classic champion will be crowned on a live broadcast of the weigh-in on ESPN2.