Gerald Swindle says it could be worse. Flood warnings that resulted from torrential downpours in Shreveport’s Red River region this past Saturday morning have not turned Bassmaster Classic waters to looking like chocolate milk. And, as far as he knows, his ribs aren’t broken following a missed step in rubber boots that sent his 6-foot, 4-inch frame slamming into his Triton’s fiberglass gunnel wall during a rainy practice day earlier this week.
Swindle does warn, however, that rubber boots don’t stick well to wet fiberglass, and this year’s Classic waters are far dirtier than the 2009 edition of bass fishing’s biggest event.
“No, the whole river doesn’t look like chocolate milk,” said Swindle. “But it’s three times dirtier than it was in 2009 when Skeet Reese won here,” said Swindle. “Surface temps are around 52 degrees, and the bass aren’t chasing real well, but there’s still some good looking water out there if you look hard enough to find it.
“When the water rises and gets off-colored, these bass are like me in a dark hotel room – they don’t move fast, and they don’t move far,” said Swindle, as he sat tying on shades of black, red and blue lures to a 6.6:1 gear ratio Quantum EXO reel, and 7-4 EXO pitchin’ stick.
BoatUS Angler member Terry Scroggins isn’t seeing as good as he used to either. Scroggins, age 43, has recently experienced the post-40 slip in vision that a lot of folks do. “Yep, I got me a pair of cheaters,” said Scroggins, referencing a cheap pair of reading glasses.
“I spent about $550 with an optometrist, and the glasses he gave me weren’t worth a dang,” said Scroggins. “So I took my buddy’s advice and went to Walmart. It’s great, you can pick out any lens you want for about twelve bucks,” he grinned. “ I don’t read much, but when I do it’s usually magazines. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition has been a big hit here in camp this week.”
Not far from Scroggins sat two-time Bassmaster Elite Series tournament champ Casey Ashley rifling his sites on one lure – a jig – that he uses just about everywhere the pro tour takes him. “It’s a hand-tied jig that an older gentleman back home makes, and it hardly ever gets hung-up or snagged compared to most jigs,” said Ashley, age 28.
“The man’s name that makes these jigs is Louie Hull, and he calls them Shooter Lures. He sells them stapled on these cardboard cards, and I’m pretty sure that’s his home phone number printed on the top of the card,” grinned Ashley, who has a deep appreciation for life’s simplest approaches.
“It’s pretty much the only jig I throw everywhere we go. I mostly throw a black-blue, 3/8-ounce version trimmed with a blue Zoom Super Chunk Junior. Once in a while, I use a color called Brown Craw. I cast it, pitch it, flip it, whatever – Louie’s jigs just don’t hang up much, and they get bit,” said Casey, who understands well, that simplicity is often the best approach to seeing his way to tournament success, even if the Red River was once threatening to cloud up like chocolate milk.