Thanks, Tulsa! Thanks also to Dave Mercer for sending this along.
There are already a few hundred spectators out lining the barrier fence by the boat ramp. Most are from Oklahoma, Nebraska;Missouri and Arkansas but I found the Spences from Lafayette, La. This is their third Classic, the other two in their home state. Are they rooting for someone from near home? Quite the opposite. They're Palaniuk fans and think this weather plays to his cold water experience.
I just spoke with Peggy Kiefer of the Grove Sun. She's covered lots of tournaments on Grand Lake, but Wednesday was her first time riding with a pro. She was in Ish Monroe's boat and said that "the only thing that got cold was my hands. I had gloves but I had to take them off to take pictues." How about some hazard pay?
The most popular people this morning are three ladies in a tent serving coffee, hot chocolate and "more coffee." They're all shivering, though. "They promised us there'd be a heater," said Alicia Pimental. She's still cheerful, but with temps dropping that may not last long. Coffee works, but it becomes a struggle when nature calls.
Because of the distance from Tulsa to the takeoff, I was skeptical about seeing big crowds this morning. But when photographer Jerry Cunningham and I arrived at 5:05, there were already about 200 cars and trucks in the parking lot. I hope they dressed in ample layers, because it's cold!
With frigid temperatures descending on Grand Lake, you'd figure the Classic contenders would be bundled up in hotel rooms and campers the night before Day One of the tournament. Not Aaron Martens. The noted outside-the-box thinker was spotted at the Grove, Okla., Walmart a little before 9 p.m. buying Cheerios among other things. Not for his kids, though -- they're in Tulsa, probably already tucked in. One can only wonder if the noted tackle-tinkerer still has to tweak some lures or respool reels.
The weather’s been a little tough out here, but I have to tell you that this has really been a fun Classic for me and the family.
Gene Gilliland, a fisheries biologist who has studied Grand Lake for 30 years, shares his perspective on what it takes to win there.
Here we go – my 23rd Bassmaster Classic - and what a special one it’s going to be.
It’s Thursday, the last day for prep before the Classic starts. It’s been a fairly busy day but nothing got out of control.