MONROE, La. — With the Ouachita River fishing so small, some of the contenders held back on their fish today in the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats, but Alabama’s Jamie Horton went all out.

Thinking about what Alabama football coach Nick Saban would say facing such tough conditions as Horton encountered on the Ouachita, the Centerville, Ala., angler put together a 16-pound, 4-ounce limit to take over the lead at the FNC. “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.

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.“

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.

Tomorrow’s takeoff will begin at 7:15 a.m. CT at the Forsyth Park boat ramp (2201 Riverside Dr., in Monroe).

For more information about the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, go to www.bassmaster.com/federation.

2011 Bassmaster Federation Championship and Federation Divisional Championships presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats Official Sponsors: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, Skeeter, Triton, Yamaha

2011 Bassmaster Federation Championship and Federation Divisional Championships presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats Supporting Sponsors: Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, MotorGuide

About B.A.S.S.

For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com, ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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