BULL SHOALS, Ark. — Terry Scroggins couldn't describe his two Ramada Quest tournament days on Bulls Shoals Lake any clearer: "It's not that hard. I probably had 50 bites and 32 keepers (Saturday). It's easy. It's just a simple deal that I'm doing."
Exactly what is he doing? That's going to be a bit harder to discern. But Scroggins, who is in fourth place with 29 pounds, 9 ounces, wasn't the only Bassmaster Elite Series angler describing bass fishing at Bull Shoals in similar terms.
"I blistered them today," said Ish Monroe, who is 11th with 29-1. "This lake is awesome. It's one of the best lakes in the country for the amount of fish it's got in it. I can't think of a better lake."
Fred Roumbanis, who is seventh with 28-0, stated it simplest: "I think the fishing is just good right now."
And it's only going to get better at Bull Shoals next week, according to Ott DeFoe, who missed the top 50 cut by four ounces Saturday with a two-day total of 22-1.
On the weigh-in stage before a big crowd at Bull Shoals State Park, DeFoe said, "It will be a lot of fun next week for you people lucky enough to be here and fish this lake."
Bull Shoals was so easy Saturday that a Cajun from south Louisiana, who doesn't see water this clear coming from his home faucets, figured it out.
"I was in 29 feet of water and I could see the bottom," said Dennis Tietje, of Roanoke, La., who is in 13th place with 26-8. "This clear water is really mind-boggling to me."
But, as the old saying goes, if it was so easy, why wasn't everybody doing it?
"I can't tell you what a grind it was for me," said Greg Vinson, who remained the leader for the second day. He followed up his 16-13 Friday with 13-8 Saturday for a two-day total of 30-5 and a three-ounce lead over Casey Scanlon.
Many anglers weren't nearly as fortunate as Vinson. There were 16 in the 100-man field that didn't catch a five-bass limit on Day One; there were 19 that didn't accomplish it on Day Two. The 15-inch length limits on largemouth and smallmouth bass and the 12-inch standard for spotted bass have created some barriers for guys catching fish, just not the right fish.
Mike McClelland of nearby Bella Vista, Ark., was an example. He knows Bull Shoals as well as anyone in the field, but managed only four fish and 7-8 Saturday to finish 67th with 19-15. He was in 34th with 12-7 Friday.
There's a complicated mixture of water temperature, water clarity and wind that's reading like the big "E" at the top of the eye chart for some and like Braille for others.
Water temperature may be the most important of the three.
"The water I'm fishing starts out at 54 to 55 degrees (in the morning)," said Monroe, who had the day's big bass of 5-4. "When it hits 56 to 58, the bite turns on completely."
Roumbanis backed that thought.
"I'm reading water surface temperatures of 52 to 62 degrees," he said. "When I see what the water temperature is, I know where to fish."
There remain many variables for the last two days of this tournament. But one key is coming into focus: The clear water at Bull Shoals, where it looks like a 30-foot-deep aquarium, is where the action is.
Steve Kennedy figured that out Saturday and jumped from 69th place with 10-3 to 32nd place with 13-13 and a 24-0 total. Kennedy was catching smallmouth bass on four-pound test line.
"I was looking at boulders in 22 feet and seeing everything," Kennedy said. "I had a blast today. My muscles are cramping from keeping pressure on fish and four-pound line all day. It was that much fun. It was awesome."
Awesome, maybe. But not as simple for most as it appeared to some.