Photographer James Overstreet and I are positioned in the pinch point of a popular backwater area, which shall remain nameless. We've talked with about a dozen Bassmaster Classic competitors this morning, either on their way in here or on the way out. But no one has roared into this stump-filled shallow water like our last visitor. Overstreet reached for his 300-millimeter lens as we watched the approach, then said, "I guarantee you that's (Mike) Iaconelli, without even looking." Ike had backed it down to idling speed when he went past us, smiled and said, "We've run over some s*** today." No doubt, Mike, no doubt.
Davy Hite has a special affinity for Louisiana. Like every one else he wants to win this event.
In Pennsylvania they have Punxsutawney Phil as their harbinger of spring. In Louisiana (and I am making this up) it's Alvin Alligator.
At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jeff Kriet hadn't seen much to get excited about. In fact, he thought the bass fishing was better here Sunday than it had been so far today. "I did hit one little stretch where I thought I'd catch 'em," Kriet said. "I got two bites where I thought I'd get 10." Kriet, however, was far from discouraged, saying, "I think we're going to catch 'em (in the Classic)." That's the feeling you get from a lot of these anglers: With a few more degrees in the water temperature and a few more hours to figure out what the fish are going, then the Red River will break loose. But it's holding tight right now.
Kevin VanDam is not above joking around with reporters and cameramen. We had a chance to catch up to him yesterday while he was in the middle of some television interviews.
John Crews was fishing 56-degree water Wednesday morning, and he wasn't too happy about it. "I was wanting it to be a little bit warmer, but we've still got this afternoon and tomorrow," said Crews, just before the sun broke through the clouds. Today is crucial for Crews, who said he hadn't yet formed any kind of game plan for the Classic. "I'm trying to get a pulse on what the fish are doing today at this water temperature," Crews said. "Then I'll kind of gauge what to do Friday based on what I figure out today."
Yerger and I have arrived in Sullivan's, and it's a popular place. Swindle, Vinson and others are here. This area is a big oxbow full of flats, stumps and ditches. It gets hammered year-round, but for good reason: it always produces. Swindle is pitching along the bank to some scattered grass while Vinson is across the way spewing mud and dirt into the air as he tries to free himself from a sandbar. The wraps on these boats will take a beating. Unfortunately, many of them are brand new. there's a consistent 10 mile-per-hour wind blowing through Sullivan's, which prompted Swindle to pick up a chartreuse spinnerbait, one of Yerger's favorite baits on the river. Swindle's really moving along, covering lots of water.
Randy Howell is fishing in water that appears to have a perfect stain but he said he won't be here during the tournament. This small area is getting pounded and he speculated that the pressure has killed what used to be a hard-to-access honey hole. Howell practiced for a day and a half out of his aluminum boat and a day and a half out of his glass boat. He said it'll be fiberglass all the way come tournament time: "That aluminum boat will mess up your head."
As we idled in to our next backwater, Mike Iaconelli came blasting out with a head of steam. He slowed to a quick idle as he approached us, shot us a grin that could light up all of Shreveport, then took off again after he passed us. He was 2nd here in 2009 and has a bunch of runner up finishes in the past year -- he may be due.
I know some of you are going to think I’m playing a head game with the other anglers when I say this but I’ll tell you I had a tough practice. It’s colder than I expected and the fish aren’t where I thought they’d be at this time of the year. It was a real surprise.