Day One gamble


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With no qualifying points to fret about and with the bumper-boat style of fishing that the Red River's community holes presented, a handful of Bassmaster Classic anglers rolled the dice on Day One and made the long run to Pool 3.

A run like that isn't necessarily prohibitive mileage-wise, but when you add in the time spent negotiating two sets of locks, the trio of competitors who made the run were limited to roughly three hours of fishing time. The reason: having their pick of water to work a spot or pattern.

"It just doesn't suit me. I like to do my own little deal," said Ish Monroe, who weighed in six pounds, eight ounces. "It's fishing to win. I felt if a guy could get a spot all to himself, he can put himself in a good position.

"Three hours is just not enough fishing time unless you really get on them. But I knew the risk of that going in."

All three of the intrepid travelers — Shaw Grigsby and Dustin Wilks joined Monroe on the long run to Pool Three — reported finding decent numbers of fish, but the combination of cold and rising water basically torpedoed their chances of catching them before they even made their first toss.

"The river came up and got cold and muddy. It was 62 on Wednesday and was 55 today," said Wilks, whose only fish of the day was disqualified when he ran out of gas three miles from check-in.

"The water also came up about a foot. That made it real hard. I was fishing real isolated pieces of wood that were barely sticking up when it was lower," said Wilks.

Monroe, also, had found a nice, clear spot in Pool 3 water that had definite bed fish, but plans to fish them were scuttled when Thursday night's chill sent the water temperature plummeting.

"My day one spot had 15 pairs in one little pocket," he said. "I felt if I could get the best five out of that I'd have a chance to win.

"They just weren't there. The cold backed them way off and I just didn't have time to relocate them. There were just a few left, but they weren't locked onto the beds. They were just cruising."

Wilks thought he had a spot that would give him 14 to 18 pounds "relatively easily" and didn't hesitate in formulating a game plan based on his practice, past experience and the nature of the Bassmaster Classic.

"I fished two other tournaments here and got a check in both of them doing the same thing," Wilks said. "I spent 20 minutes in Pool 5, 15 minutes in Pool 4 and about three hours in Pool 3. I knew it was a gamble to go down there but this is one of the only tournaments you can gamble in."

Grigsby thought he had something going in the first few minutes of fishing Pool Three, boating four fish right off the bat. The problem was they weren't at all the fish he was looking for.

"It just didn't fall the way I thought it would. I got those four boom, boom, boom, but they were just smaller fish in an area that was one of my better big fish areas," Grigsby said. "I just never got the big bite.

"In the Classic, you're always going for it. Unless you're really on them and things go right, fishing down just doesn't give you enough time to put something together."

2009 Classic archive | Photo galleries | Classic blog | Live coverage