I've always said that the toughest fishing in the world is when the water's cold and muddy. Nowhere was that more evident than on Lay Lake last weekend during the official practice period. It was by far the most difficult Classic practice I've ever fished.
I'm really disappointed. Usually after practice I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do when competition starts. That's not true this time. I'm struggling. I ran all over the place and never found any water that was above the middle 40-degree range. That's cold.
Nevertheless, you could catch them if the water was a little clearer. But, of course, it isn't. It's really muddy. All you have to do is look around and you'll understand why. Every creek or ditch you see is running with water. As it moves along it picks up sediment and dumps it into the lake. Heck, even the fields around here are full of standing water.
Some of the creeks might be starting to clear, but I don't think it's going to happen fast enough to help us much. Besides, the cold will continue no matter what. The weather forecast says it'll be in the middle 20s at night and no higher than the middle 30s during the day all the way through Thursday night. That won't help anything.
I saw a lot of fish on my electronics, but I'm not sure they were bass. They might have been something else. (That should be a clue as to how many of them I caught.) The thing to keep in mind, though, is that just because I had a tough practice doesn't mean the other guys did. I'm sure somebody caught them.
The guys who might be able to pull of a win later this week are those who are experienced at wintertime jig fishing. That's probably going to be the key to winning the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.
Experienced anglers who spend a lot of time fishing nasty winter conditions are going to be tough when the competition starts. Jeff Kriet and Mike McClelland are worth a close look. They both have a lot of wintertime experience and are really good with a jig. And, they fish real slow to begin with. All that will give them a huge advantage.
But every angler who launches on Friday morning can fish. They wouldn't be here if they couldn't. Any one of them can put together the winning combination. It's a matter of finding out what works. Don't count anybody out.
I've got to go now. I need to swap out a lot of my tackle and lures. Based on what I did — and didn't — accomplish in practice I know I need to make some changes. I only have a few hours on Wednesday to put something together so I can try to win this one.
Remember, it's all about the attitude.