One hundred eighty eight boats carrying pro anglers launched on Douglas Lake as the sun rose early Thursday morning to start the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open series.
The pro anglers alongside their co-anglers will compete Thursday and Friday, then the top twelve from the first two days of competition will fish on Saturday with the champion crowned at Bass Pro Shops at 3 P.M. that afternoon.
Perhaps the most unique boat on the waters of Douglas Lake was a blue and silver Triton featuring the Dallas Cowboys logo.
That one belongs to Gerald Sensabaugh, who played safety for eight seasons in the NFL with the Jaguars and Cowboys. He holds the record for highest vertical leap at the NFL combine at 46 inches, but he's traded his helmet for life on the water.
"I would take my boat to practice and after I would get done practicing or lifting weights I would take some guys out or I would just go fish by myself," Sensabaugh said. "I always wanted to fish the Bassmaster Classic and fish the Elite Series that's what I'm trying to do now and hopefully I can get there one day. I need to get better I'm still a rookie at this.
Sensabaugh's five fish limit weighed eight pounds, one ounce, putting him 104th place after day one.
Caryville native Brandon Card is no rookie. He has nine top ten finishes in Bassmaster events and wants a good showing on his home lake.
"I guide here all the time. This is one of my favorite lakes in East Tennessee," Card says of Douglas Lake. Today was kind of a tough day for me, I only had 9 pounds something. Normally I catch 20 pounds a day out here on guide trips so it was a dissappointing day but there's still a lot of big fish out there."
Card and his brother Jordan both landed inside the top 100 after the first day of fishing.
It was another local guy, Dewayne Wilson, a custom rod builder from LaFollette, who sat atop the leaderboard at the end of day one with a five fish limit weighing 21 pounds 12 ounces.
The anglers will be back out on Douglas Lake Friday morning at 6 A.M. Boats launch at The Point Marina in Dandrige and will start returning at 2 P.M. for weigh-ins.
For the full leaderboard click here.