We're headed into the CenturyLink Center for the Day One weigh-in, taking a minute to reflect on the first day's action on the water.
At this point, we're still 15 minutes from the first fish hitting scales, so I have no idea who's hot and who's not. Sure, we've been hearing sporadic updates, but it's hard to know the accuracy of reports until they're verified at the weigh-in.
But I saw some things today that really drove home what everybody's been saying about how this river system crushes the anglers' attempts to wisely manage their time.
For starters, we ran down to the upstream side of Lock and Dam 4, the barrier between Pools 3 and 4. Greg Hackney had told us he planned to make the long downstream run in an attempt to have an area more to himself than what the majority of the field would find in Pools 4 and 5. It would mean having about three hours of fishing time, the rest of the day being consumed by running time and idle time inside the locks. When we arrived, Hackney hadn't made it that far. But sitting inside the lock, waiting for the gates to close, was Shaw Grigsby. He sat there for nearly 10 minutes before Hackney made it inside the lock, and several more minutes passed before the lockmaster closed the upstream gate. Since it takes about 15 minutes to regulate the water level inside the lock so anglers can pass to the adjoining pool, that's easily 35 to 40 minutes that Grigsby wasn't fishing. It will be interesting to see if the loss of time was worth it.
Photographer Jerry Cunningham and I ran into similar time management issues, and that made it easier to understand the anglers' plight. We spent a great deal of time idling into backwaters only to learn there were few anglers on which to report. At least we weren't counting on catching fish to make a buck. We get paid the same whether we find anglers out there or not.
The point is that it's easy for productivity to decline on the Red River. There are stumps everywhere, time lost in the locks, and so many other obstacles to deal with. We spent a lot less time taking photographs and reporting for the live blog than we would've liked, but that's the nature of the Red River. And once you commit to an area, you're committed for a while.
I saw something else later in the day that made me consider time management. As we watched several anglers waiting in Lock 5 to return to check-in this afternoon, I noticed that Kevin VanDam, unlike most of the other anglers in the lock, was using the idle time to re-tie baits and organize his rods. It drove home another point -- there's a reason he's the best bass fisherman in the world.
It's often said time management is critically important to bass fishing success, and that's especially true on the Red River.