NEW ORLEANS, La. —All weekend long, anglers have talked about the cold weather being a major factor effecting the fishing. Almost equally important has been the low water, making navigating and fishing more difficult.
A strong, constant north wind leading up to the official practice pushed a lot of water out of an already low Delta system. Calmer south winds and warmer weather that began appearing as recently as Saturday should start reversing that effect. For Terry Scroggins, that change would put his strong suit, flipping, back into play.
"I had high expectations coming in of being able to flip into heavy cover," Scroggins said. "There's a lot of that kind of cover, but the water is low and muddy. You want the opposite, higher and clean, for that to be effective."
Scroggins, who hails from Palatka, Fla., is no stranger to fishing tidal water. He knows how quickly things can change from his experience on the St. Johns River.
"I live on tidal water, so I know this water can fluctuate two or three feet and that can make all the difference in the world." Scroggins said.
Local angler Burt Duncan from Jefferson, La., was on hand as the anglers arrived back at the dock on the third day of official practice and he agreed with Scroggins that the water level made Delta fishing hard.
Duncan lives about 10 minutes away from the ramp at Bayou Segnette State Park, where the anglers will launch from each day of the tournament, and he has been fishing club tournaments anywhere from Venice to Bayou Black for the last seven years. In all that time, he has never seen the water as low as it has been this weekend.
"I turned up mud today in places I've never done that before," Duncan said. "It's never this low. When the water is low, it's a lot harder to flip, which is something I like to do. At least when the tides are moving the fish are more active. When the tide is low and not moving, it shrinks the strike zone down to nothing and the fish become lethargic."
That certainly has been the case for the three days of official Classic practice. Sunday showed some positive signs, with air temperatures rising into the upper 60s. Greg Vinson hopes that even if the water levels don't come up much, the rising temperatures will still push the bass up.
"The water temperature is coming up quickly, so I'm hoping the fish I did catch will replenish," Vinson said. "I did catch one of the better fish I've caught all week, but I think it was just blind luck. It was totally separate from the other places I'm fishing, so I hope you don't end up seeing me fish there."
Keith Combs was another angler that found warming water temperatures on Sunday, but it didn't equate to an immediate increase in fish activity.
"I went to Venice this morning but didn't like what I saw, so I came back here and fished for about 1.5 hours," Combs said. "It made me feel better to see 54-degree water temperature. We are going to get to fish some 60-degree water in the tournament, so they are going to bite. It's just guesswork to put yourself in the right water since they aren't eating now."