UMATILLA - First year FLW Series bass fishing pro Joseph Caporuscio stood off to the side of the main weigh-in stage with an incredulous look on his face after his first day at the Columbia River FLW series tournament.
In just his second tournament since joining the tour, Caporuscio sat in the lead, catching the five-bass limit for a total weight of 13 pounds, 12 ounces. But as angler after angler watched their catches fall shy of the top mark, the 21-year-old Caporuscio could only feel like his mark would fall.
It took until the final flight, but Orting, Wash., native Ronald Hobbs Jr. finally pushed the mark even higher, setting the bar at 17 pounds, 11 ounces. In the co-angler competition, Japan-born Gary Haraguchi finished Day 1 in first place with five fish at a weight of 11 pounds, 15 ounces. Haraguchi will try and become the second Japanese angler to win in consecutive tournaments, following Hideki Maeda's win in Lake Havasu, Ariz.
Caporuscio, though, who this season finally was able to follow in the footsteps of his father Dino Caporuscio as a member of the FLW Series at least for one day out-did his mentor, taking advantage of his first competition on the Columbia River.
"I had a great day today, it was fun," Joseph Caporuscio said. "I executed great and I put all the bites in the boat. I didn't lose a fish all day, I?caught seven and culled twice and had three good bites. I?got one good bigmouth (bass) and two smallmouth and hopefully I can go out (today) and do it again."
Not knowing the terrain he was fishing, the young pro said he just stayed with his usual game.
"I was just doing what I like to do - throwing worms and finesse fishing," Caporuscio said. "I found a spot that was holding the fish I?like to catch. I just hit two spots. That's good, though after a long run, like 45 miles, you don't have a lot of time to fish so you have to get it done fast."
Some anglers had even less time to work with, but none as little as pro Wade Headrick. The Draper, Utah, native started Wednesday's competition as well as anyone could, landing a five-pound large mouth at his first spot. But shortly after, his boat went on the fritz.
After catching his "green fish" at his first spot 40 miles upriver, Headrick said he moved to a spot by the Columbia Point and was about to leave that spot when he had trouble with his boat. Stuck 25 miles away from the Umatilla Marina, Headrick was picked up and brought in to have his fish weighed before going right back out to try and get it ready for today's round.
"It killed my day," Headrick said. "I only got two hours to fish and I had been getting about 13 pounds a day out here. I got my five-pounder, my largemouth, first thing in the morning and I got a spot where I?can get a four or five-pounder and then head out to get my smallies. I got two and then was heading up the Snake River, and really it just stopped me from running my stops. I was able to hit two spots and get three fish and that was the end of my fish day. I've been to the dock twice and spent the last three hours on someone else's boat."
The day did not end a total loss for Headrick, though, who landed one of the top single-fish weights of the day, with his five-pound largemouth.
"The thing is, the weights are down," Headrick said. "I'm thinking that if I can go out and get my green fish every day and get a couple decent sacks I can salvage this. I might be able to make the cut if I?can get those 15-pound bags I was getting in practice and I can cut a pretty nice check if I can get those 13-pound sacks I've been averaging. My tournament isn't over."
The rest of the field has similar feelings with three days of competition left. Today and Friday's weights will determine the top 10 pro anglers who advance to Saturday's short round, while today is the last chance for the co-anglers to make the top 30 who advance to Friday's final day.