2009 Central Open #1 Toledo Bend Reservoir - Many, LA, Mar 5 - 7, 2009

Open strategy changed with Day One cancellation

MANY, La. — Bassmaster Central Open anglers spent Thursday working on equipment and resting up after the first day of competition was canceled because of high-wind concerns. They also had to figure out how to best approach a tournament that is one day shorter.

 "It definitely changes things," Missouri's Sammy Burks said. "I have six spots I know are holding fish, and I was planning on spending about 20 minutes on each one during the first day and then going to look at some other areas.

 "Now I'm going to fish those areas as hard as possible."

 Many other anglers will be following Burks' approach, tossing fish management for an all-you-can get approach — especially since the forecast for Saturday calls for gusts as high as 25 mph, presenting the possibility that the day would be canceled due to safety concerns.

 "When you get down to one-day or two-day tournaments, luck becomes a bigger factor," Georgia's Eric Neathery said. "If somebody goes out and catches a 9-pounder and ends up with a 26-pound bag — a one-day, huge bag like that can carry them two days.

 "Three days kind of eliminates that."

 These two Open pros said that's why they'll catch the absolute maximum weight Friday.

 During a three-day tournament, you get what you think is going to be good and leave yourself open for the next day,"Neathery said. "For this one, you better go out and catch everything you can [Friday]."

 Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland said another factor that's going to be in play in this event is the warming trend that could result in bass moving shallow en masse to set up housekeeping for the spawn.

 "We've had two or three days of warming weather, so the fish will probably be moving up tomorrow," McClelland said on Thursday. "If we had fished today, that probably wouldn't have been as big of a factor because the fish could still be caught deeper."

 So sight fishing could produce big over the next two days, but McClelland pointed out that the wind that caused the first-day cancellation will still be blowing. That could make it much more difficult to pick out beds even in the coves off the main lake.

 "I know in some of the areas I'm going fish the wind is going to murk up the waters," he said.

 That, along with the fact that fish probably will be moving from staging areas to shallows as water temps continue to climb, means anglers will have to be flexible.

 "You better not be locked into what you were doing in practice," McClelland said. "The fish are going to be changing hourly, and you'd better be ready to change with them."

 The bottom line is that competitors should bang out the heaviest weight possible whenever fish are found.

 "That's one thing I keep learning," McClelland said. "If they're biting, you'd better catch all you can because you never know what's going to happen the next day.

 "I've never been in a situation where I've caught 25 pounds and wished the next day I hadn't caught some of that."

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