The Bassmaster Classic on the Red River started with a strong north wind at about 15 miles per hour, and air temperatures roughly 30 degrees cooler than yesterday. While there was still some left over cloud cover from the passing cold front, it didn’t take long for the sky’s to open up and let the sun shine brightly. Normally when your outside on a cool day that sun would be a welcome part of the day. However, when your fishing the first day of the Bassmaster Classic, the post front sun, means the bass are going to get difficult to catch.
The field, as a whole, did well. With many anglers bringing limits of bass to the scale. The problem was that the size of bass just wasn’t what they wanted and know they can catch. There were multiple common themes that each angler discussed. First was that the Red River is fishing very “small” right now. Lots of water, but to many anglers trying to fish the same water. Another common problem was the very strong south wind yesterday pushed muddy water into areas that anglers had counted on finding migrating bass. “The extremely muddy water, from the south wind yesterday, put a halt to any spawn migration for the day”, according to Aaron Martens. Aaron Martens and Kevin Van Dam both started in the same area, just a few hundred yards from the ramp. Both struggled with the morning bite. At noon, Aaron had one keeper in the boat and made a move and quickly found a limit catching over 20 keeper bass.
If the windblown waters and congestion of anglers in the key locations wasn’t enough, compound that with the fact that the female bass were not cooperating. According to Mike Iaconelli, “They are all males, the female bass are not biting yet. I know they are there. I’ve pulled them to the top prefishing, but they didn’t bite today.” When asked to sum up the day Ike said, “I’m fishing with a 30″ Swimbait tomorrow!” Ike is very confident in his area; however, he said that there were no less than 10 boats at any one time fishing the same waters. Depending on where his 10 plus pounds placed him in the standings, he is considering running to pool 4 on Saturday.
Greg Hackney made the run to pool 3 today. He said he made his first cast at 9:33 AM and his last cast at 12:22. Leaving him just short of 3 hours of fishing time. Only getting 7 bites but bringing 5 solid keepers to the scale. When asked why risk all the lost fishing time, Hackney replied, “Pool 3 suits my fishing style better, the oxbows are easy to read, and finding the bites comes natural for me.” Hackney said that since he didn’t spend much time prefishing that far down the Red River he was a little caught off guard with the fact that it was down a foot from when he seen it the first day of practice. Hackney said, “It took me 45 minutes to figure out what was going on, but once I did, the bites came quickly”. He is headed back to Pool 3 Saturday and feels very confident that he can dial the bass in and find larger bites. An excited Hackney said with a wink, “Now that I know what I’m looking at, I know exactly what I need to do.”
Kevin Wirth struggled today only bringing 4 fish to the scale. With all the common problems among the anglers, I asked Kevin if the crowding of the competition hurt his game plan. He chuckled and said, “my first spot had 2 anglers on it, so I headed to spot number 2 only to find 3 anglers sitting there. Pressing on to my third spot, I was shocked to see four anglers already working it over. Finally, I just picked my way into and area and started casting.” Wirth was fishing in pool 4. He said, “because of the strong south wind yesterday muddying the waters, the small productive areas got even smaller.”
Alton Jones said he was fishing in the dirt. His fish are so shallow that two feet of water was his deep water access. Because of the front that had just passed, most of his fish came during the afternoon. Tomorrow morning is forecast to be about 35 degrees, “I’m going to adjust my game plan some and look at some new water, if that doesn’t pan out I’ll be back to work these same bass in the afternoon again.”
Dean Rojas, one of my favorites going into this tournament, zigged instead of zagged. He has an area that is receiving zero pressure from other competitors. Going with his gut during the afternoon, Rojas managed a 4 pounder and another solid keeper. However, those were his only two fish. Because of the lack of pressure his area received, he is looking forward to Saturday and expects he can bounce back. “This area has some really good fish in it, and I figured it out just a little late. After looking at the weights today, winning will be tough, but if I can get the right bites I can still do it!” Rojas is a very confident angler, and I’m not counting him out yet.
Dustin Wilks has 16 pounds plus pounds and sitting in 4th place. When asked what he’s doing different, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Catching bigger fish.” While that might sound arrogant, he really is very humble. “I’m fishing an area with lots of other people, I just got the good bites today. I’m doing something a little different with a crankbait, and hopefully it’s enough to hold out.”
Ish Monroe was probably the most disappointed angler to come through the media tables. “The area I’m fishing has the fish to win, but they are not biting. I can catch a limit in 10 minutes, but they are not going to win the Bassmaster Classic. I’m headed to pool 3 tomorrow. I’ve got an area in pool three that the water temperature has been higher, and I know they will eat when I get there. Once there I’ll have only about 2 hours to fish, but that’s all I’ll need.”
Federation Angler Matt McCoy, only had 4 bites today. Hooking everyone, but unable to execute them to the boat. Matt said that he had two in the three pound class and one at least four pounds come unbuttoned on him today. “I’m fishing some great fish, I just have to execute and put them in the boat. I’m going right back at them Saturday.” I asked Matt to sum up his first day fishing the Bassmaster Classic, “As bad as it is right now for me, It’s still the Classic.” Matt has a great outlook, and I know the area he is fishing, it’s got potential. The weather conditions are setting it up to be a place that can turn this 180 degrees for him.
I interviewed Kennedy Thursday during the Media Day. He told me there that he knew where the tournament would be won, but it was a matter of which angler got there at the correct time. Well, while interviewing Steve after he had weighed in today, I asked him about this statement, he said, “Poche, Poche got there and stayed there, he’s on the fish that will win.” Just a few anglers later, sure enough, Poche takes the lead and hangs on to it for day one.
I was able to talk with each angler today! This one is going to come down to a very tight super six on the last day. I talked highly of a record breaking Classic, conditions were setting up to be perfect; however, Mother Nature threw a curveball. While many anglers adjusted to bring quality stringers of bass to the scales, the record breaking weights just didn’t show up today. While it’s still possible, a new record is going to have to involve some pretty hefty fish to make up for not breaking 20 pounds today.
Looking forward to what calmer and more stable weather will bring on Saturday.
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