STOCKTON, Calif. In the dim, chilly hours before first safe light, when anglers would rather contemplate strategy, double-check their gear or fantasize about weighing in a sack of 10-pound bass, they instead were met Thursday with a light interrogation at the dock.
The questions asked were: What weight will be needed to win the tournament? How will the tide influence what you do today? And have you observed many fish on beds yet?
Here were their responses:
Winning weight? "I think it will take something like 87 to 88 pounds to bring this thing home."
Tidal influences? "There will be plenty of water movement to start the day off, which should help anglers catch fish. If there is a low tide soon enough this afternoon you'll see both the weights and fish get bigger."
Bed fish? "I saw a small group of them that had already spawned, but there were a ton of fish still waiting. We're seeing them near the beds and some of them on the beds, but seeing is not catching."
Winning weight? "I think it will take 80 to 87 pounds to win."
Tidal influences? "There will be a later bite. With high water, we'll have to go find the fish first."
Bed fish? "I didn't think there would be a lot of focus on the bedding fish as the spawn is just starting."
Winning weight? "I'm guessing 80 to 90 pounds."
Tidal influences? "I'm looking for a good bite on the high tide."
Bed fish? "You can't win sight fishing."
Winning weight? "I think it'll take 24 to 26 pounds a day, solid, to win this thing."
Tidal influences? "The major problem in the morning will be seeing the fish with all the water. In the afternoon, we'll be able to see the fish better but we won't have as long to look at them."
Bed fish? "There will be several spawns with most still waiting, but I think we'll still see a lot caught."
Winning weight? "One hundred sixteen pounds."
Tidal influences? "Not much. They'll be hitting on the outgoing and hitting on the incoming. I'm going to just fish."
Bed fish? "I've seen a few but I'm not going to focus on them."
Winning weight? "It'll take 85 to 90 pounds to win."
Tidal influences? "It's better for me if it's low. I'll be looking to hit them as it goes down."
Bed fish? "They're not quite there yet. I think they are still 10 days to two weeks out."
Winning weight? "I'll say 100 pounds."
Tidal influences? "Bad tide for me this morning, as it'll be high for most of the day."
Bed fish? "I'll start looking in the middle of the day for them."
Winning weight? "It'll take 80 to 85 pounds to win."
Tidal influences? "They'll be better in the afternoon. Tomorrow we won't have much."
Bed fish? "I saw five fish over where I'll be staying that looked like 40 pounds plus. So I know they're out there, but not many of them are on beds yet."
Winning weight? "I'll say about 90 pounds."
Tidal influences? "Best bite should be between 8 and noon."
Bed fish? "I'll be looking in the afternoon when the tide goes out for them."
Winning weight? "Probably 30 pounds today and 80 to 90 pounds for the whole thing."
Tidal influences? "The last of the high tide today and the first of the hour as it turns will play a part."
Bed fish? "I saw some and it'll get better as the week goes on."
Winning weight? "Ninety pounds."
Tidal influences? "You have to have a 3-D perspective. At high tide, the rule of thumb is to fish shallower. At low tide, fish deep water."
Bed fish? "I've seen a few here and there, with others cruising around."
Winning weight? "Ninety might be the right number to start with."
Tidal influences? "When the tide's low, sight fish and hit the beds. I don't know if that'll be possible if the wind is like yesterday."
Bed fish? "Not a lot. I found a few, but they're the same ones everyone else is seeing. I haven't found any secret fish."
Winning weight? "Twenty pounds a day."
Tidal influences? "I don't have a clue. This tide is a whole new game to me."
Bed fish? "I've seen a few."
Editors Note: ESPNOutdoors.com's new and exclusive pre-game show, Hooked Up, will start at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, March 25. It will be hosted by ESPN2 Bassmaster television hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, and can be seen in the same location on ESPNOutdoors.com where the live video weigh-in is streamed. Click here for more information