It's been well-publicized that the backwater areas of the Red River are where the winning bag will come from, and also that they can be hazardous to boat and angler. So far, both have proven to be true. Bent trolling motor shafts, broken props and torn boat wraps are the most common casualties.
Scott Parker of Londonberry, N.H., was trolling through a stump field when a loud "thunk" from under the boat let him know something was wrong.
"I hit one hard, and it bent the shaft on my Minn Kota and broke one of the ears of the prop off," he said. "This is the best prop you can buy, so that's really saying something."
One quick call later, and he was back in business.
"The Ranger guys fixed me up, so I didn't lose hardly any time."
Parker would not catch enough to fish on Day 3, finishing 31st with 22 pounds, 12 ounces.
On Day 1, Fred Roumbanis managed third place despite trolling motor troubles of his own. After running upriver first thing, he caught two fish then headed to his second spot when he smashed a stump, bending the shaft of his motor beyond repair.
"I straightened it out as much as I could, but the rest of the day I was at about 25 percent," he said. "It was hard controlling the boat after that."
Roumbanis said his incident almost sent him swimming numerous times. He would finish in 29th with 23-12.
While most boats didn't suffer damage to the extent that Roumbanis and Parker did, no one's wrap was spared.
"Between the lock and the stumps, they're getting beat up pretty good," Ish Monroe said. Monroe would finish 41st with 16-4.
Brent Chapman feels the frustration that most anglers feel by damaging their fresh wraps on the first few days of a new season.
"We haven't even fished a tournament yet, and it's already falling apart," he said. Chapman finished just outside of the cut in 27th with 24-6.
Dean Rojas had a run in with a stump that had him concerned he may have damaged his boat until he inspected it.
I thought I had done something pretty bad," he said. "At my first stop today (Day 2) I landed on a stump and thought I broke something off the boat, but it just scratched it pretty good. I wish it didn't have to get so beat up, but it still looks pretty good."
Not even the best in the sport were spared by the Red River's minefield of stumps.
"It's got the usual battle scars, but nothing major," Kevin VanDam said. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Classic so far is VanDam's failure to make the cut and finishing in 30th with 23-11 after his Day 2 catch of 19-7 shot him up fifteen places to from 45th.