Be careful what you wish for

BASS Fantasy Fishing | 2009 Classic Archive

The prevailing desire was unmistakable as soon as the Red River was announced as the site of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. Most of the competitors wanted stable weather and low, clean water not at all representative of the body of water's namesake.

Only for the moment, it seems the old adage holds sure: be careful what you wish for.

"If you were just riding around out there, you'd think you'd be catching them everywhere," Randy Howell said. "But really they're just not biting well right now. I think if you got everybody together and they were telling the truth, it's across the board slower than what was anticipated."

Howell said he was also running into a problem efficiently covering the water he needed to cover due to the treacherous nature of the vast stump flats that define some of the more productive backwater areas.

"I don't believe I've covered half the water I should have by now. There's so much idling in getting into an area that before you know it, you've burned a large part of your day," said Howell. "It makes for a lot of hard decisions coming up on Wednesday."

Howell wasn't the only one perplexed by the paucity of action in an event billed by most everybody as shaping up as a Classic for the record books.

"I figured we'd be absolutely cracking them, but it's just not happening," said 2007 Classic champion Boyd Duckett. "When I've gotten away from the crowds, I've gotten some good bites — I got a seven (pounder), a four and a three today — but that's it.

"You go in a creek and get one bite. Some of the better areas are holding more fish, but those are the places where there are five, six or eight boats. Obviously come tournament time, those guys are going to split those fish up."

Mike McClelland was right along with Howell and Duckett in expressing marked disappointment in the action thus far, but he was trying to put a positive spin on his prospects for next week.

"The fish, I guess, haven't gotten the memo, but they're not far from it," McClelland said. "I've gotta believe that this is one of those tournaments that will bust wide open any day now even though they're not doing it now.

"I'm trying to anticipate where the fish are going to be a week from now. That's the way you've got to fish this tournament. It kinda burdened me last year when we had that cold weather and rain right before, but the long-range forecast doesn't really show me anything that should turn this around."

One of the problems McClelland has found is that despite the conditions being ideal for a stable all day bite, he is simply not finding any action until the sun gets well into the sky.

"I spent two and a half to three hours in one of my best areas and didn't get a bite. Later in the day I was actually able to do pretty well," McClelland said. "That really makes the spectator boat traffic a big factor. Now today was a beautiful Saturday on the water, but there were just so many locals on the water, it really makes you hope that those guys give us a chance to do what we need to do next week."

McClelland emphasized that he and others are covering areas several times during the day based on the absence of early cooperation of the fish. He anticipated a change in this pattern due to continued stable weather and the switch of the moon phase, but at the same time was looking at running the same water multiple times, something a well-meaning but clumsy spectator boat could really hinder.

"It's a big river, but it really does fish small," he said. "A day like today just makes you feel like you can't bear down on an area and figure it out."

Duckett had a theory regarding the slow fishing that seemed blasphemous coming in to the tournament, but one which was backed by anecdotal evidence in a few forms Saturday as he plied the shallow backwaters.

"I think that with all of the warm weather we've had down here and the full moon that a big wave of the big females spawned already," Duckett said. "I saw a bunch of empty nests — they're there if you really look for them — and caught a buck today that I swear was guarding fry. I know a few of them spawned already."

That said, Duckett indicated that he'll try something different on tomorrow's final pre-practice day. He's going deep in an effort to find a definite and more importantly, a productive prespawn pattern.

"I haven't seen anyone else do it. I've just got to fish different, because what I've done so far isn't going to do it," Duckett said. "I don't know if that'll work, but I'm going to try it anyway."

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