Here's a scenario for you: It's pre-spawn, the water is slightly muddy, the days are getting warmer, and the water temperature is anywhere from 4 to 10 degrees warmer than it was a couple days ago. What do you think should be happening?
If you're like just about every bass angler, including most of the Bassmaster Classic competitors, you're going to expect big female bass to be moving up. But that's not what happened at Grand Lake yesterday, and it had everyone scratching their heads.
"I caught males where big females were before," Cliff Pirch said.
Josh Bertrand found the same situation. "I found a lot of males, but I'm trying to find females."
Bobby Lane left an area where males were biting, ran to an area where he was convinced he could catch one or two females, and never got a bite – from 10:30 to 3:15.
"I keep waiting for [the females] to show up," Dean Rojas said. "Everything's right."
For a couple guys, it wasn't a matter of males or females, it was just getting bites – after they did fine in practice. "I was getting six to eight bites a day in practice, and today I got one," Mike Iaconelli said. "No idea what happened."
Justin Lucas, who had three fish for 7-14: "I was expecting it to be tough, but not that tough."
In other words, Grand Lake wasn't fishing how most competitors expected it to fish. The big females that were expected to move up, didn't. And for some anglers, the males they were catching just vanished. Eight bites a day went to two, or even zero.
What happened? A few guys had theories, but still weren't real clear on how to catch better-quality bass. (Or they weren't saying.)
Greg Hackney feels like the only bass that can be fished for are the ones that are shallow. "[The water] was much colder last time [the Classic was on Grand], but it was clear. When the water's clear, you can get them to react. But now it's dirty, and when it's cold and dirty it's like they've got their eyes closed.
"The ones that come up [shallower] are the ones that are biting. The ones that are deep, it's like they're hibernating."
Chris Zaldain's experience backs that up. He zeroed yesterday, and felt like the colder, clearer, deeper water he'd been fishing had stopped producing because of yesterday's warmth. He realized that he was fishing around some of the folks who caught fish, but wasn't fishing the right way.
"I'm in the right areas, but on the wrong sides," he said. "A lot of these guys are fishing away from the main channel [in dirtier, shallower water], but I was keeping myself in clearer water."
It might not be surprising that the only competitor who offered an explanation was Jason Christie. Or maybe not an explanation, but rather a reason Grand fished the way it did yesterday. "Nice days on this lake, it makes the males move up," he said. "And when it's blowing and clouds, the females move up."
He couldn't or wouldn't explain it more than that, and it was tough to tell if he was sandbagging, but based on the amount of head-scratching among the competitors, it made sense.
We'll see what the lake serves up today. The only constant among the competitors was that they feel the lake is changing and that every day will be different. "They're changing out there a lot," Jordan Lee said. "I'm just going to try to change with them."
Matt Herren said, "I don't see a guy winning this on one spot with one bait. The guy that wins will adjust and change with them every day."