Remember that dying wind I wrote about earlier? I was sadly mistaken. It's howling. We've found Jared Lintner at the mouth of a cut and he has the area all to himself. It appears to be a likely transition area but in 15 minutes of casting we've yet to see him set the hook on anything.
Greg Hackney might just be driving to his home in Gonzalez, La. He’s miles and miles further south than the rest of the field. At this point he’s gone about 70 miles and he’s still going.
According to Zona, Hackney said he only needs one hour on the stretch he’s heading toward and he thinks, as Zona said, “He will crush their heads.”
That kind of gamble speaks to the type of tournament the Bassmaster Classic. Unlike all the other events these guys fish, this is a win or go home tournament. There are no points awarded and the cash difference between first and second place is enough to fund a five year career.
Hackney has been favored as the local in a number of the recent Classics and just flat bombed. He’s a guy who takes chances, and that’s what wins events like the Classic. Nobody will remember the bombs if he makes this work.
The air temperature feels like it's dropping, but the bass catching is heating up in McDade Lake. Mike Iaconelli has added his third bass of the day, a 2.5-pounder he flipped from some heavy cover. Andrew Upshaw, who was working up the same bank as Ike, about 25 yards behind him, landed his fourth bass of the day, about 15 minutes before Ike's.
Upshaw cranked his outboard and moved to the opposite bank, where Ott DeFoe landed a keeper as Upshaw approached.
We have moved slightly down lake, where Dustin Wilks and Fred Roumbanis are within 50 yards of each other. A spectator told us that Wilks has caught three bass in 10 minutes on a crankbait. Wilks just landed a non-keeper as we drifted by.
McDade is alive this morning. We've seen Randy Howell wear out a small spot on the dam, Fletcher Shryock has caught another one and, and Dustin Wilks has caught a few short fish.
Andrew Upshaw's gang of fan is following him down the bank cheering as he welcomed another fish aboard. Iaconelli just swung two more into the boat as well. The last one was just shy of 3 pounds.
I’m going to do my best to explain a little bit of the weather situation and hammer home a point that I’ve been hammering home all morning: today is the day to catch a big bag.
Zona explained some of this on the live feed, but I’m going to put it on paper (actually, your screen).
The basic thing you need to understand is guys are looking, ideally, for clearer, clean water. There has been a lot of rain and such the last couple weeks in this area (and north of this area) that muddied up the water real bad. Typically, that mud flows south with the current over time, which would explain why less than half the field locked south (19 of 49).
To add to the south/north mud flow, the warm front that came in on Wednesday and Thursday, which brought the air temperature to 80 degrees yesterday, was blowing from south to north. That warmed things up (yea!) but kept the muddy water from flowing south (boo!). And guys couldn’t get on the water yesterday, so they just had to guess as to whether that mud moved out of or into their A-1 spot.
“I bet there are some guys who thought their spot would be clear that are disappointed right now,” Zona said.
If you’re still following me, hang in there, I’m getting to the pay-off. There was a cold front that blew through this morning – from north to south, which will help move the mud south as this day goes on but won’t really affect the water temperature until later tonight.
So all that to say, we’re about to hit a window that will probably give us the best fishing this three-day tournament is going to offer. It’s the perfect storm: water is warm from the warm front, mud is moving south from the cold front, guys are figuring it out as the day goes on, and weather will get into the 60s in the next hour or so.
The last five hours of today is going to be really interesting. This might be the only day where these guys get warm, clear(ish) water.
Mike Iaconelli just added a keeper on a crankbait. He and College B.A.S.S. champion Andrew Upshaw are within about 25 yards of each other, working the opposite bank from where Fletcher Shryock caught his second fish of the day.
Shryock just moved up the lake, so he can work back down the bank he's been flipping.
The water surface temperature is 58.9 degrees, and there are several spectator boats in here, idling in the middle, watching anglers working the banks on either side of them.
Swindle still has not had a bite. Somehow, Eric has still managed to take a lot of pictures of Swindle. Wiping his nose, casting into the wind, casting with some birds in the foreground, wiping his nose again. It's just that kind of day. Eric is no James Overstreet, but he's getting the job done. Now if only Swindle would start getting his job done we would be in good shape.
There's an interesting transition approaching, with the steeper bank he's been fishing becoming more shallow and populated by water hyacinths. When things got tough last time on the final day, there were some big bags caught flipping hyacinths. I don't know if it has emerged as a pattern yet this year, but it will be interesting to see what happens here with Swindle regardless.
We are going to head farther into this backwater in a bit to see what other action is going on. Swindle has the same idea and puts on his life jacket. Only, he's not moving, he's stuck on a stump. That can happen out here. It won't be the last time, that's for sure.
Hackney hit lock 3 at 8:50 a.m., and two other boats were already in the lock. Unfortunately, we couldn't determine which boats they were from our vantage point outside the lock. The gates closed on those anglers' destinies at just after 9 a.m.
We are in the Jungle now and don't see anybody fishing here.
My fingers are numb. I've been riding in a helicopter with the door off to get video and photos. Wonder what windchill factor is at 100 mph.
We saw a flotilla head into a backwater that had crystal clear water compared to the chocolate milk of the main channel. We flew over the lock to Pool 4 and watched the boats stack up only to have to wait. It looked like several smart ones were fishing while they waited to get in. Greg Vinson was the leader out of that pack of 18 boats with Edwin Evers, Shaw Grigsby and Davy Hite pursuing.
Two anglers, I believe it was Jeff Kriet and Stephen Browning, had issues getting into a clear backwater ditch; they were forced to pole in through the shallow gap.
We're cold and low on fuel so were coming in. Hope to have some interesting images soon.
Perfect timing on your question about Swindle, Dustin. We just ran into him down here on Pool 4 and while I don't like to give away too much information the first day of the Classic, I will say he is fishing shallow cover using both drop baits and some power fishing techniques. That's not much, I know, but it's still early in the game.
The water temps back in here are 58 degrees and the clarity isn't great. I'm not sure what these guys expected after a day away from the water, but the wind over yesterday and today hasn't helped any. Right now it's just a moderate breeze, but it's blowing right down the area Swindle is working. He's pointed the nose of his boat stubbornly into the wind and has hunkered down picking apart the cover.
It's still cold out here. We actually noticed the temperature dropping from the time we left the hotel until the time we got to the launch. This could be one of those days where the high temperature happens early in the morning. That shouldn't bode well for the fishing, although many were still optimistic for a good bite. Dean Rojas told me he thought it would take 14 pounds to be inside the top 10.
Swindle has been looking very intense, but we have yet to see him get a bite.