By BassFan Staff

After a three-fish, 8-13 bag on day 1 of the Bassmaster Classic left him mired in 39th place in a field of 49 anglers, Denny Brauer talked as if he might soon call a halt to his long, storied career.

"We (he and wife Shirley) built a second home on Lake Amistad this year and we've been down there since December," he said.

"I'll be honest, I've been having so much fun fishing down there that it was really hard for me to pack up and head to the Classic. I don't know, maybe I'm losing some of that competitive edge and it's time to just relax and have fun.

"I will fish the tour this year. My body is really going to determine how much longer I can go. It gets tougher every year to get up and compete against these guys. Then again, I won an event last year (at the Arkansas River) and that makes you think you can still hang in there. This sport's been so good to me. Why press it too much longer?"

On Friday evening, his body wasn't telling him what he wanted to hear.

"I've got more aches and pains than what I used to have. I've got an ear infection going on right now. I've got an artificial knee. I've had five back operations and I've got a headache at the moment. Other than that, I'm feeling really good for 63 years old."

With 17 wins, an Angler of the Year (AOY) title and a Classic trophy to his credit, he's captured every accolade the sport has to offer. He showed up in Shreveport with his standard win-or-go-home mentality, and that, combined with his disdain for working crowded water, proved to be his undoing on day 1.

He boated everything that bit, but just didn't get enough bites.

"I never found anything in practice that made me feel like I could win this event so I sat down last night and decided I would fish a completely new area I'd never seen before, which is hard to do in a place like this. I got into an area that looked like it had a lot of potential. I caught a 4-pounder right off the bat and thought, 'Boy, here we go.' After that I only got two more keeper bites.

"I made my mind up coming here that I wasn't going to fish the community holes. I've been told time and time again that if you want to win on this river that's what you have to do, but that's now how I fish."

Following are some notes from other anglers not featured in BassFan's primary day-1 coverage.

11th: Scroggins Lost a Couple

Day 1: 5, 14-08

On the one hand, Terry Scroggins was very much in the thick of things after day 1. On the other, he lamented that two fish that should have come to the scale with him are still swimming around in Pool 5.

One of those, which he estimated at 5 to 6 pounds, had been attached to a crankbait.

"I had a decent day today and probably had about 15 bites or so, but I did lose two big fish today and it kind of hurt me, he said. I had 14-08, but I had a good chance to have 18 to 20 pounds. I just missed the opportunities.

Anytime you lose something like that, especially in an event like this, that really hurts.

13th: Long Run for Hackney

Day 1: 5, 13-15

Greg Hackney ran all the way to Pool 3, but caught just seven males. He was unable to connect with the chunky females that he'd gone down there for.

I spent most of the day driving, " he said. I shut down at 9:33 and started fishing, and fished until 12:22. Thats when I started to come back.

I made that big a gamble going that far (because) I decided to fish today like it was over today. I had a couple of different areas and I went to the one that I thought had the best potential to produce some big ones. I really think that after it turns out the way it is going to be that the weights are going to be close. Its going to be one or two big bites that makes the difference in winning.

I know Im around big ones,," he added. "The potential is there and Ive just got to make the adjustments.

14th: Omori Pleased

Day 1: 5, 13-14

Takahiro Omori, the 2004 Classic champion, pleased to find himself positioned for a run up the leaderboard on day 2 especially after very tough pre-Classic practice rounds.

During practice it was so tough, so you shook off the bite and you really dont know whats (out) there, he said. Today I had nine or 10 keepers. Every bite I had, I put in the boat and the biggest one I had was 4 pounds, 6 ounces."

His only concern for day 2 was the anticipated chilly weather.



B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Terry Scroggins had a solid day, but it would've been better had a fish that weighed over 5 pounds not come unbuttoned.

It was already pretty cold (today). Anytime you get north winds at 20 mph at this time of year, it doesnt help. Either (the fish) are there or they are not there. Ill find out tomorrow morning.

17th: Combs was Near-Perfect

Day 1: 5, 13-09

For Keith Combs, day 1 was nearly perfect except for that one good fish that spit out his spinnerbait. That was the only fish that he lost out of 25 keepers in Pool 4.

It was actually right on plan, he said. We got into our area, locked down, went through there and probably had a limit in about 10 minutes. I had a couple of decent ones and just upgraded all day long.

(But) I had one fish that was a key fish. I just had one good bite all day long and unfortunately, I lost it. But it did show me that there are decent fish in the area because mostly what Im catching are 2- or 2 1/2-pounders.

He said the pressure in his best area isn't unbearable

Im really not getting as many boats in the area as I thought I would, so Im looking forward to that (again on day 2). Even though I lost my 4-pounder, Im excited to see one. It gives me plenty of hope.

19th: Robinson Needs Change

Day 1: 5, 12-08

Marty Robinson had a simple goal for his first-ever day of Classic competition.

I had one little area where I thought I could catch a limit pretty quick, he said. It took me just a little bit longer (than he would've liked). With it being my first Classic, I wanted a place where I could go and get something in the well and ease the nerves a little bit, so it worked pretty well as far as that was concerned.

Now that he has that notch on his belt, he'd like to make up some ground in the standings.

Ill probably go to a totally different area. I dont know if Ill catch anything or not but I have to. To have a shot at winning, Im going to have to move.

31st: Ike Will Gamble

> Day 1: 5, 10-07

Mike Iaconelli was noticeably puzzled after walking off the weigh-in stage Friday afternoon. He knew he'd be fishing with a crowd in the McDade area and thought the pressure might have hampered his bite a little bit, but he expected more.

"I don't get it," he said. "I really thought I'd get a couple female bites, but all I caught were males. The big fish are there and that area has everything they need. It's got flats. It's got deeper water. I can't really explain it. It's like all the 4-pound bites I was getting in practice turned into 2-pound bites, and that's how I ended up with 10 pounds instead of 14 or 15.

"The question is do I go back in there tomorrow and catch another 10 pounds and try to make Sunday, or do you take a gamble and fish for the win. I'd rather try to win, even if it means missing Sunday. I'll most likely run down to Pool 4 tomorrow."

Ike mixed it up with a combination of power techniques and spinning tackle and joked that he might "bust out a 30-inch swimbait" to persuade a big fish to eat on day 2. Junk-fishing isn't in his vocabulary for this event. He said he's discovered two separate patterns one of which he thought was "really good" but he prepared for a slower bite on day 2 and looked for the fish to reposition overnight.

BassFan
Photo: BassFan

Takahiro Omori capitalized on every bite he got on day 1.

"I caught a lot of fish today in what you would consider semi-open water," he noted. "I think those fish will move tight to cover tomorrow and lock on to mats and stumps. But all it takes is a few hours of sun and they could go back to what they were doing today. I have to keep an open mind."

35th: No Lock For Shryock

> Day 1: 5, 10-03

Southern Open qualifier and Elite Series rookie Fletcher Shryock had intentions to head to Pool 4, but an early flurry of bites in Pool 5 lured him away from his original gameplan.

"I knew I wouldn't be the first boat (to his spot in Pool 4), so I decided to go check one spot in Pool 5 before I hit the lock," he said. "I went in and it was just fish, fish, fish. I had four or five bites right off the rip. I figured I could either stay in (Pool) 5 and work with what I'd found or take a risk of running to Pool 4 and get shut out by somebody that was already on my stuff. I decided just to keep fishing."

He knows the area in Pool 4 has better quality than what he found today, but in spite of being the seventh boat out of the gate tomorrow he won't head that direction.

"I'd like to go to that area but I'm pretty sure one of the guys near the top (of the standings) is fishing down there, so I'm going to respect that and keep my distance. I'll just stay with what I found today and see what happens."

37th: Faircloth Frustrated

> Day 1: 5, 9-09

Todd Faircloth made a 50-mile run into Pool 4 and followed that with a slow, "frustrating" idle to his first spot. It didn't take long for him to realize he wasn't going to find the bites he needed there, but by the time he decided to make a move it was already too late.

"I actually had the same piece of water picked out that Greg (Vinson) caught his fish from today," he said. "Instead of going there first thing this morning I decided to make that my Plan B and you see how that worked out. I feel like one of these days I'll be able to put it all together and make the right decisions, but it won't be this time.

"There's no doubt I'm putting myself in the right areas," he added. "People see your weight and think you were doing something really wrong, but they don't realize how fine that edge is that separates winning and losing in this sport. It all comes down to decisions and that's where I fell short today.

"It's sort of bittersweet, I guess. There's a positive side in that I feel like I found the area that could potentially win the Classic, but the downside is I didn't make the right decision by going there first thing (this morning)."

Additional Notes

> 30th: Fred Roumbanis (5, 10-10) "I caught six keepers today and I only lost one bite. My execution was right on, but the wind repositioned my fish into an area where someone else was. I think with the wind settling down tomorr ow, the fish should scatter out a little more and move back over to my main area. I did some really light-line stuff today cranking, some flipping, swimjigs. I just junk-fished, straight up. The only thing I'm doing is trying to figure out which way the laydowns come off the stumps. You have to make several casts to figure it out, but once you get the right (position), the bites are there."

B.A.S.S.
Photo: B.A.S.S.

Ish Monroe planned to make the long run to Pool 3 on day 2.

> 31st: Tom Jessop (5, 10-07) "I fished the clearest water I could find and mainly just fished slow. I probably caught 20 fish. I just never got a quality fish to eat. I don't really know if there's a specific thing I can do to get the bigger bites, so my plan is to burn through as many fish as possible and hope that a few of those are the ones I need. The bite really slacked off for me today and I hope it picks up tomorrow. I caught them pretty good on a spinnerbait in practice and I couldn't buy a bite on a spinnerbait today."

> 31st: Chris Price (5, 10-07) "I went to Pool 4 where I thought I could do well, maybe 15 or 17 pounds, but it didn't happen. Luckily I had one backup area where I could catch 10 pounds because everything else had been trashed by the wind. I fished a Senko real slow in a shallow pocket. There's a lot of bucks in there, but I can't figure out where the big ones are. I caught what I weighed in about 40 minutes and then went looking again, but I didn't find anything."

> 36th: Ish Monroe (5, 9-10) "I fished in Pool 4 all day and I caught a limit in probably 10 minutes, but they weren't the right ones. The big ones aren't in there yet. The water came up 4 feet over the last 2 weeks, but now it's dropping. It was easy in practice, but it was a lot harder today. I think I'm going to pack my bags and make a good, long run down to Pool 3."

> 38th: Kevin Wirth (4, 8-15) "The water getting dirty really shrunk down and confined my area, and after making that long run (to Pool 4) it was hard to jump and move around. The first three places I went all had at least two other competitors on them. I lost one average keeper, about 2 pounds, that would've put me up around 11 pounds and in the ballgame. I'm still in it, but now I need two good bites (on day 2) instead of one. That's feasible they're in here to do that."

> 41st: John Diaco (4, 6-12) "I stayed in Pool 5 and I did lose two or three fish today, so I should've had a limit. Wednesday it was easy, but today stuff changed, The wind direction messed things up a little bit. They're still in there I didn't catch them, that's for sure. I'll go back because it's the best area I've found."

> 42nd: Jared Lintner (3, 6-08) "I was punching hyacinths and when the wind switched, it turned by best stretch to mud. I caught a 3 1/2-pounder early and I thought I could grind it out, but it just didn't happen. I lost a 3 1/2 on a spinnerbait, then late in the day I ran over to a place where I'd shook a good one off in practice. I got her to bite, but she broke me off on a piece of re-bar."

> 43rd: Dean Rojas (2, 6-00) "I'll try a couple different areas tomorrow. I ran down to Pool 4 today and all my stuff was blown out. I could tell pretty quick it wasn't happening down there, so I decided to come (back to Pool 5) early. I got to a spot where I'd caught some big ones in practice and caught a 4 1/2 and thought I would wreck them there, but I never got another bite. I fished slow today, but I'm going to slow down even more tomorrow. I'm pitching and flipping and throwing some swimbaits. It's mostly just a junk deal for me."

> 44th: Mark Tucker (2, 5-07) "I had a place where I thought I could catch them and I had five bites. The first one I saw the line moving off and the fish went under a stick and when I pulled up, it came off. A little farther down I caught a 4-pounder, and then I lost a 15-incher upside the boat. The wind was blowing so bad that I never felt the bites pitching a little jig I'd just see the line move. Then I picked up a rod that had a spinnerbait tied on and I hooked a 4 1/2-pounder, and I go to lip it and it opened its mouth and came off. I looked at the spinnerbait and it still had the hook cover on from practice. It was the stupidest mistake I've ever made."

> 46th: Matt McCoy (1, 1-14) "I had four bites and the one I put in the boat was the littlest of the four. I lost at least 10 or 11 pounds of fish. I wish I had a reason for it, but I don't. They seem to be eating it a little funny. I talked to one other guy fishing my area and he had the same issue as me. He caught a few and lost a few. If I can put five bites together, I think I'm absolutely looking at a limit in the teens."

> 47th: Kelly Pratt (1, 1-13) "I learned a little bit about the Red today even with the cold and wind, the fish were still moving up. I was trying to make them bite offshore. I had one good area, but the wind blew about an acre and a half of hyacinth over it and I couldn't get to them. But tomorrow the wind's going to turn, so it should push that stuff away."

> 48th: Casey Ashley (1, 1-11) "I made a bunch of wrong decisions today. I had a mental lapse on the water. Everywhere I went, the wind had trashed it out. I kept trying to force something to happen instead of adjusting to what I saw. It's fishing. I really expected to catch a couple big ones first thing this morning. I've got one stretch where big ones live and that was the only place the wind didn't mess up. The fish just didn't bite this morning. The one fish I caught was a (spotted bass). I didn't even know spots existed in this river."