CARTERVILLE - The door to the championship of the 37th annual Boy Scout Tournament at Crab Orchard Lake is wide open.
The team of Kirby Cottrell of Chandlerville and Louis Viol of Brentwood, Tenn., sit atop the leaderboard after Saturday's action, but just more than 2 ½ pounds separate the first five teams.
On a day when just six limits were weighed in, Cottrell and Viol brought 19.53 pounds to the scales.
"There were not a lot of bites, but the ones we did get we were able to put in the boat," Viol said. "It was a slow bite."
Although short on specifics, Viol was candid about his team's approach to catching post-spawn fish.
"They're up close to the banks," he said. "(We used) a couple of soft plastics and we stuck with it the whole day."
Ryne Sanders of Herrin and Justin Lamb of Carterville are right on their tails. Their five-fish limit weighed in at 18.96.
"It was pretty tough all day," Lamb said. "We definitely had to work for them.
"We fished all over here and there and we fished all kinds of different things."
Mitch Gosha and Steve Powers, last year's champions, are in third place, just 1.4 pounds behind the leaders. Kevin Finney of Carterville and Ken Finney of Herrin are in third with 17.57 pounds.
Ronald Johnson of Creal Springs and Tyson Shoot of Herrin round out the top five with 17.01 pounds.
The leaderboard is tightly bunched. The 10th place team of Lester Robison and Marcy Davison of Du Quoin are just seven pounds out of the lead.
The 98 teams brought a total of 148 fish to the scales.
"Compared to the (Harkins) Four-Man, they had 72 fish the first day," said tournament director Wendell Stritzel.
Last year's winners had about 19 pounds after the first round last year. It took just more than 30 pounds to win last year's event.
"It's about a mirror image of last year," Stritzel said.
The 148 fish weighed in Saturday totaled 478 pounds, a total of about 3.3 pounds per fish.
"I heard people say they caught a six-pounder," Stritzel said.
Ben Schultz earned big bass honors for the day with a 6.6-pound lunker.
The tournament wraps up with a 2:30 p.m. weigh-in today.
1. Kirby Cottrell, Chandlerville and Louis Viol, Brentwood, Tenn, 19.53
2. Ryne Sanders, Herrin and Justin Lamb, Carterville, 18.96
3. Mitch Gosha, Carterville and Steve Powers, Murphysboro, 18.13
4. Kevin Finney, Carterville and Ken Finney, Herrin, 17.57
5. Ronald Johnson, Creal Springs and Tyson Shoot, Marion, 17.01
6. Tom Webster, West Frankfort and Rob Halstead, Carterville, 14.36
7. Kyle and Steve Garner, both of Carterville, 13.27
8. Boo and David Guill, both of Royalton, 13.20
9. David and David Pedigo, both of Benton, 12.78
10. Lester Robison and Marcy Davis, both of Du Quoin, 12.14