Horton Goes All Out To Lead B.A.S.S. Nation Championship

bassmasterJamie HortonB.A.S.S./Adam Harbottle

Alabama's Jamie Horton decided to buck the trend his competitors would follow and instead went all out on day one of the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship, presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats. The result: a lead in the tournament with a bag limit of 16-pound, 4-ounces.

Some of the competitors kept mentioning during the weigh-in that they just concentrated on catching a limit and saving the rest of their fish for the next couple of days, but Horton had a different strategy. "I went to the biggest 12 fish I knew about first and caught five of them," he said. "I felt excellent about what I had, and then I caught a 5-pounder right before I came in.

"It was just isolated fish on isolated pieces of cover. I moved around a lot and hit all of my best stuff. I didn't hold back anything because the way the wind was blowing, I didn't know what tomorrow might hold. I didn't even have a plan because I didn't have any expectations of catching them like that, but after I caught those five and thought I had about 10 or 12 pounds, I decided I wasn't going to let up."

With such tough conditions on the Ouachita River, Horton had Alabama football coach Nick Saban on his mind.

"Nick would probably tell you to focus on doing your best and preparing yourself and not focusing on the goal at the end," said Horton. "I have been telling myself that over and over and hope these three days I can fish just as clean and as hard and as good as I can do and the result at the end will be what it is.

"It was a struggle all day and I only caught six fish," said Horton, who caught only two fish in practice but stayed away from his best spots.

Fifty-four contestants are split into six geographical divisions in this three-day event. The top finisher in each division will qualify for a coveted berth for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, taking place in Louisiana, on the Red River. Tournament leader Horton also tops the Southern Division. The other division leaders include Josh Polfer of Idaho in the Western with 11-3; Matt McCoy of Indiana in the Northern with 14-1; Richard McCrone of New Jersey, in the Mid-Atlantic with 10-10; John Diaco of New Hampshire, in the Eastern with 11-15; and Jared Miller of Oklahoma, in the Central with 10-9.

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