Practice began this morning. Not long ago, in fact. Lots of questions and only a few days to find the best answers. The Forrest Wood Cup begins Thursday, four days from now. That's when 46 pros will begin the four-day battle on Louisiana's Red River for the title of world champion and the top prize of 1/2 million dollars.
Tournament waters include 150 miles of river, divided into three pools, plus extensive backwaters. Vast and complex, the Red River system is also ever-changing, and widely varying water levels and water colors dictate a great deal about how the fish will behave and where they will position themselves. Water levels also dictate which backwaters can even be reached in a bass boat, and that could change as the week progresses. Because some areas can only be reached by long runs and four trips through locks (round-trip), a lot of strategizing will have to come into play.
The general word I've gathered from anglers who know the Red and from what pros determined pre-practice is that this tournament is unlikely to be won on a single pot-of-gold spot. The fish groups just won't be big enough for one spot to do it for four days. Winner will need multiple areas or a highly repeatable pattern, and he'll probably need a back up pattern or at least be able to adjust his pattern as the tournament progresses -- because some condition almost certainly will change.
Today most pros probably will cover a lot of water, riding and looking at spots, seeing what cover is flooded and accessible in different areas, looking at water color and current strength, possibly in different pools, and making a few casts in a lot of areas, possibly with reaction lures. Other pros have already chosen major areas where they want to focus attention, and they'll spend today trying different techniques and hitting specific types of bank or weedlines in an attempt to narrow things.
Day 1 practice usually is about getting a general sense of things and possibly eliminating some ideas. If a pro finds something he really likes today and can spend the rest of practice looking for back-up stuff, that's a big bonus. I'll be watching for reports of what the pros find in practice and will pass them along here, on Twitter and on my facebook fishing page.