FORT MADISON, Iowa — Many anglers are in for a reality check as the Elite Series trail hits the Mississippi River for the Genuity River Rumble. After getting used to healthy fisheries like Kentucky Lake and Lake Guntersville, the muddy waters will prove tougher to find limits, let alone impressive sacks.
Kelly Jordon, 13th in Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points and just outside the cut for the postseason, described his practice thus far as "extremely challenging." Bill Lowen said simply, "brutal." Terry Scroggins called it, "the toughest event I've been to."
But not all anglers are feeling down about having a tougher event. "It's nice to have one tough fishery," said Jami Fralick.
And, as Rick Clunn pointed out, the lack of bass is not a permanent trait of the river, but due to the devastation caused by last year's flood.
"The river is not herself," Clunn said. "I hate to see the fishery hurting, since this community has been so welcoming to us, but it will bounce back."
As for this week's event, Skeet Reese said, "If there were only 10 boats in this tournament, we'd be fine."
Russ Lane agreed that the river is going to fish small. "If a guy has a spot to himself," he said, "he's gonna win it."
The question remains: Which angler will that be? With so much uncertainty, some pros were still willing to take a guess at who would take home the trophy on June 14th. Here are their predictions:
Zell Rowland: "He is boat number one. That, and he is my buddy."
Byron Velvick: "I've gotta ride the dark horse. Plus, the pressure is on for him to get inside the top 12, just like me."
Charlie Hartley: "He is a good Ohio River fisherman."
Gerald Swindle: "He is a good junk fisherman."
Aaron Martens: "I heard he was catching them in practice."
Greg Hackney: "He is a river rat."
Gary Klein: "He is a flipper. I think slow and methodical will do well."
Matt Reed: "He is due to have a good tournament."
Tommy Biffle: "He won it here in the past, and this is a flipping event."
Bradley Hallman: "Dirty water will help him."
"I'm going to pick some shallow water flipping people."
"Anybody can win it."