New water, challenging start

Terry Scroggins shows sportsmanship as he recovers from a poor tournament start.

Terry Scroggins

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FORT MADISON, Iowa — Fishing for an entire day without catching a single keeper can be a frustrating experience. Here on the Elite Series, it can be downright depressing. Without any fish to the scales, you won't get a check for your efforts, and you won't even get the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points normally reserved for last place. In fact, not many anglers can overcome the wrench it throws in their mental game, let alone the ground they must make up in total weight.

Fortunately for anglers at the Genuity River Rumble who failed to land any fish, they weren't alone. Day One saw nine anglers with zero for the day, and Day Two had that number grow to 15. Of those that started out on the wrong foot, only one turned it around to make the Top 50 cut, and that was Terry Scroggins.

Not fishing as well as he is used to, Scroggins has made the Top 50 cut at five Elite Series events so far in 2009, but no Top 20 appearances. That puts him well shy of his performance in the last few years of the tour. He had a ninth-place finish in the 2008 season and was fourth place in 2007. And after a blank on Day One, his chances of reviving his season standings were looking pretty thin.

"I just got started a day late," Scroggins said. "I had two keepers in three days of practice, so I was real happy to do well at all."

And do well he did, weighing in one of the largest bags of the tournament and the largest on Day Two, a limit of 13 pounds, 9 ounces. That was enough to jump him from dead last up to 32nd place, which not only guaranteed him a check, but also allowed him to fish another day.

His change in fortune was due mainly to shifting the water he was targeting. After giving up on his Day One targets, he decided to try a new area. As is the case with most potential spots at the Genuity River Rumble, Scroggins did not have the water to himself.

"When I got there, Shaw [Grigsby] was already there. But he let me fish as well, so I appreciated that."

But Grigsby was not letting Scroggins in on a sure thing. Although Grigsby has been in a top spot since weighing in 12 pounds, 8 ounces on Day One, he has still had to grind his spot to catch a limit each day.

"Tomorrow I may not catch them, but that's part of river fishing," Grigsby said.

Scroggins' Day Two limit did not show up immediately, either.

"I fished that spot for 2 ½ hours and still didn't catch a single fish. It wasn't until a second pass that I got anything. Then, in 15 minutes, I caught a limit."

That sort of flurry has been rare this week, and Scroggins can only hope to repeat that success on Day Three. But, surprisingly, he won't be fishing the same area that saved him. With Grigsby in seventh place, Scroggins wants to give Grigsby the best chance he can to make the Top 12 cut.

"I'm not even gonna go," Scroggins said. "I'm gonna run some new water and see what happens. I'm gonna look at my GPS and pick out some new spots."

At an event that has seen anglers fishing shoulder-to-shoulder on the same bushes, solo water has been rare. And close quarters require all the anglers show a high level of sportsmanship, something the pros have come to expect on the Elite Series. But to give up your only successful water must be a difficult decision, especially for someone who needs the boost in TTBAOY points to salvage a tough season.

However, on water as volatile as Iowa's stretch of the Mississippi River, no one can predict what will happen on Saturday. After days of pressure, Grigsby's fish may not hold up, and who knows what Scroggins will find on his GPS.

"That's the good thing about having a tough event," Scroggins said. "You can come back and catch them."

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