BIRMINGHAM, Ala. South Carolina's three entrees in the Bassmasters Classic have a lot of distance to make up to have any chance at professional bass fishing's "world championship."
The most successful of three anglers connected to the Palmetto State, Brent Long, is in 33rd place after Friday's first of three competition days on Lay Lake, catching a 5-bass limit weighing six pounds, eight ounces. Long, who lives in Cornelius, N.C., reached the Classic as a member of a South Carolina-based BASS Federation club.
He's a full 13 pounds behind first-round leader Kevin Van Dam. The 2009 Bass Angler of the Year, Van Dam weighed in 19 pounds, eight ounces. He's got a lead of 22 ounces on Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, who is at 18-2. Oklahoman Jeff Kreit is third with 16-7, and Cliff Pace of Mississippi and 2004 Classic champ Takahiro Omori of Texas rounded out the top five at 15-7.
Jason Quinn of York is 35th after catching two fish weighing 5-12, and Casey Ashley of Donalds is 39th with four fish weighing 4-2.