Further back in McDade is Ott DeFoe. We don't know if he's got anything, but we just saw Steve Kennedy swing a 1 1/2 pounder aboard.
Dustin Wilks is working deeper water with a red lipless crankbait while everyone else is pitching jigs and soft plastics to the bank.
As we move further back in McDade, we found Randy Howell and Fred Roumbanis up against an earthen dam which Yerger says has a culvert in the middle of it. Howell is working it over thoroughly. The three pros a re within a cast of each other with DeFoe and Roumbanis working along the same side.
Brandon Palanuik is in Shaw Lake, the backwater area where so many anglers practiced at least part of the day on Wednesday, and where Skeet Reese won the Classic in 2009. But the clear water that was in here Wednesday has dirtied considerably.
Palanuik has thrown a variety of baits while we've been watching him - a crankbait, a spinnerbait and now a jig.
Brent Chapman is also in this area, and there may be one other competitor in the very back of the pond. But it's a huge stump-filled backwater, so no one is crowded in the least.
The question is whether the fish are going to bite in this area with a north wind blowing through considerably dingy water.
Something to pay attention to with these early weights are the quality of fish. For instance, Randy Howell is leading on BASSTrakk right now with a 9 pound limit. That’s not going to hold up.
Look for guys putting 3-pound class fish in the boat, even if they just have a couple of them. Today seems to be the day anglers think will be the best day for fishing in terms of weather. It’s been warm for a couple days, which most of these guys liked. This morning it dropped 10 degrees from when we got to the ramp at 5:30 a.m. to the takeoff at 7 a.m.
VanDam said before takeoff that the weather has been perfect the last two days. It’s only going to get “worse.” I don’t think anglers can afford to have a bad day today and win this tournament. The last few Classics the winner had two great days and one average day. That can definitely happen but I think, different from most years, Day One will separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Some of us don't have lucky cookies to carry us through the day. Although I will say that the car we are riding in is nice and toasty. Outside, it is cold and windy, conditions that will get some if these anglers off their game.
Talking with David Walker at the dock this morning, he told me he liked the weather because it will eliminate more of the field right from the start. Anyone can fish in beautiful conditions, but it takes a special mindset to excel when things are tough.
Check out the video with him at the launch on the BASSCam page.
I would also like to give a shout out to Mike and Marshall from Columbus, Ohio. I met them on the plane coming into Shreveport last night and they were geeked out about attending their first Classic. They are just a few of the many great fans of this sport that come from all over the country to see the big show this weekend. Shreveport turns out great crowds and this morning was no different. The shoreline and ramps were packed with spectators. Today's weigh-in should be even bigger.
Almost time to break out the PBJ.
The big debate coming in here was who is going lock and will it pay off. These river tournaments are always a story of fishing time vs. quality fish vs. pressured fish. And finding the right balance between those three things has a lot to do with the decision these guys make to lock or not to lock.
With that said, as you can see in this screen grab from BASSTrakk, there is a pile of anglers, including Kevin VanDam, are sitting a few hundred yards from launch.
Only 13 guys locked. Swindle estimated that number to be 40 earlier in the week, so that's a big surprise. Not many guys locked in Wednesday's practice, but Wednesday's practice is usually just a day for these guys to check out the water and check secondary spots. It will be interesting to watch the leaderboard today and compare weights from those who locked and those who did not.
Apparently Overstreet found his way through the wood without getting attacked by snakes, gators, nutria or sasquatch. He just called to report that Kriet caught a fish that looked to weigh about two and a half pounds.
My boat driver Beaux Yerger and I ran the length of Pool 5 to Lock and Dam No. 5. We saw 18 boats go through the lock, so we decided to stay in Pool 5. We're heading to the back of McDade and found Mike Iaconelli, Fletcher Shryock, Steve Kennedy, Dustin Wilks, Andrew Upshaw and a host of spectator boats. Everyone is pitching to stumps, which there's no shortage of. We saw Upshaw catch a small keeper.
I just dropped off Overstreet on the outside of the backwater so he can get a better angle on the action. First he'll have to do some serious bushwhacking, though -- these woods are pretty gnarly.
He left behind one of KVD's lucky cookies. I didn't have express authorization to eat it, but rest assured I have now tasted Classic glory.
Winning the Classic is all about making the right decisions. There are so many variables involved that successful anglers have to be flexible. The last time they were on the water was Wednesday. Thursday was warm and windy, while this morning the temperature has dipped back down.
Plus this is spring, a time of transition. The fish will be changing constantly and those who keep an open mind and make the right adjustments will prevail. That's one of the reasons KVD has been so good in the Classic the last few years. It's hard to think of anyone who adjusts quicker than VanDam.
At launch, many of the anglers were mulling over what decisions to make. These aren't simple decisions either. As Chris Lane told me, they depend on what anglers go where and how crowded some places are. At some point though, you just have to fish.
Our decision is to go down to Pool 4 and cover the popular areas around Sullivan's. I'm curious to see who is locking down to 4 and even potentially 3. Should be an interesting day. Like most tournaments, we don't know much at the start, but this blog is our way of learning more and sharing it with you. Post any questions you might have about the conditions or anything else in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer them.
KVD is the first to score -- dropped a fish in the livewell. He always seems to set the pace.