VENICE, La. — Wait with fingers crossed. That's the mantra most anglers fishing Venice are living by as they launch for the second day of official Classic practice. With the time already invested in scouting and fishing that far from the launch, all the anglers can do is hope the water warms up enough to get the bass active.
Most anglers know the wealth of bass in the area, but water temperatures in the 40s shut down the action, at least on Friday's first day of official practice. Jeff Kriet was concerned when he found 41-degree water at the ramp in the morning.
"The water was way colder than what I expected it to be," Kriet said. "That's not good in this shallow water. It's like Florida, they don't like the cold. When I finally did get a bite yesterday, it scared me."
Kriet found that even just getting a few bites was a good sign of things to come. Four bites on Saturday might translate to 15 or 20 bites by the time the tournament begins.
"I think the weather will warm up and that will help because this is a fun area to fish," Kriet said. "There will be a lot of whining in practice and when it warms up guys will end up catching them. Right now, it wasn't what you want to run two hours for. We are gambling that they are coming."
With current forecasts putting the highs next week in the 60s, the fishing will definitely improve. At least as important as the highs will be the overnight lows. Cold nights the last few days have kept water temperatures down, but as the week eases into Tuesday and Wednesday, nighttime temperatures around 50 degrees should heat the water in a hurry.
That's good news all around, especially for guys making the long run. With less time to fish, the anglers around Venice will need to find active fish in a hurry if they want to make a run at the Classic title. Mike McClelland already is prepared to adjust quickly to the fish migrations.
"I think with the warm weather, we are going to have a good week," McClelland said. "You have to keep in mind the fish could move up with the warm water and it will be important not to be too locked into how you caught them. That is what makes it challenging with the short fishing time."
The fish movements are not going to be massive, but subtle enough to stump an angler who is not prepared.
"I'm not talking about Table Rock, where they will move from 12 feet up to the bank," McClelland said. "There is not enough water depth for that to happen. You might have to adjust the way you are fishing for them though."
Early on Saturday, the water temperatures were 46 degrees in the Venice Marina, already a significant improvement on the first day of practice. Another week of warmth could have the fishing ready to explode.
Edwin Evers was one of the many to miss valuable practice time on Friday, but he was at the ramp early the next morning to get back after it. Terry Butcher reported that as of sunset, Evers was still stuck out on the marsh with the Coast Guard on the way and Evers confirmed that he did not get back in until after 10 p.m. Friday night.
"I saw some deep water on my graph and thought I could get to it, but I just ran out of water and got stuck," said Evers, who had to get pulled out by an airboat. "Now I know what a hurricane feels like. Being pulled by an airboat was like rain coming sideways. Before that it was a pretty eerie feeling. I was prepared to spend the night out there."
In Evers' own words, life goes on: "It happened before and it will happen again."