"We're proud of the Delaware, and we've been working for many years to clean it up and make it the kind of life habitat that allows something like this to happen," said Mayor Nutter, who greeted the crowd and gave his seal of approval.
Fishermen from far and wide drop their lines every year to compete with the Bassmaster Elite. But local hopefuls got schooled yesterday. Boyd Duckett, of Guntersville, Ala., battered his fellow mariners with a 16-pound total catch on Day 1.
Until Sunday, these dab hands will spread out along the river and into its tributaries trying to reel in the fattest fish, which are judged at the end of each day during a weigh-in at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing.
There's no room for clamming up, said Barry Stockinger, of Deptford, N.J., who was with grandson Alston Willis, 11. The top 100 competing in the tournament must prove to be the mussel-bound seamen they claim to be by evading the jaws of defeat.
"This is a big deal," said Stockinger, a veteran bass fisherman who said the sole scale of the event was no red herring.
"The largemouth bass - you can see them," he said. "They're not monsters but they're healthy. This is history in the making."
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