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.
David Walker started the day with a new prop on his outboard motor. The new wore off it pretty quick. Walker was leaving one of his first fishing spots when his prop thumped a stump. "It bent one of the ears back," Walker said. "I had to change it out." Walker was in a popular backwater area at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, but he didn't seem to mind the crowd. "If you get the right plan in an area this big, there won't be enough boats in here to stop it," Walker said. But he hadn't figured out the right plan yet. "I think the conditions are really good," Walker said, "but the fish don't act like it. I'm surprised. I think this is ideal. This is the best chance to catch your biggest fish. The bass are pre-spawn; they are as heavy as they are going to be all year. "It's muddy, it's shallow, it's cold, I like it."
Wind is blowing a steady 15 now and the only-recently cleared water is getting dirty again. Poche has gotten a few bites on creature baits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits . Between the wind and the bountiful stumps, footing requires a bit more concentration. Morethan one angler has told me they've almost gone over out here and that having someone else in the boat ain't necessarily a bad thing. Remarkable to see a young former division 1 football player like Keith have to catch himself every now and then.
Browning is still cranking about an oxbow off of Pool 4, while we found Josh Polfer nearby playing with what we assume was a bedding bass. Polfer caught a small fish from the area, then hung around throwing a bright green wacky worm back into the bed. Yerger says that he's caught several 20-plus-pound winning stringers from the area Polfer is fishing. Apologies to Yerger for misspelling his name previously.