BOSSIER CITY, La. Bass like to eat candy, but, like humans, it will only make them fat.
Say, isn't that what the anglers want? Big fat bass?
Yes, said Mike Wood, the Program Manager for the Inland Fisheries Division of Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries. He was the guest of a BASS news conference, and explained how the local strain of Florida largemouth were established in the Red River.
Shad, bluegill and other bait fish aside, the local abundance of crayfish was mentioned. While yummy, they're not the protein required to build bodies and grow strong bones.
"Crawfish are not a big protein source," Wood said. "They're a carbohydrate. They're like candy. They put a lot of fat on them."
Again, isn't that what these anglers want?
"Yes, but fish eating fish is what really makes them grow," he said, going on to explain how bass eat a variety of baits presented by anglers. "There's a difference between what they'll catch them on and what makes them grow.
"I might go eat a Hershey bar, but it's not going to make me grow. Bass will certainly eat something even though it's not necessarily got a lot of protein. Bass like it, and that's all they care about."
Overseeing the health of the bass that were released for the Classic, he described how they're put in a release tank with water, fresh from the Red River, and then hand-dipped back into the river system.
While all the fish released remained healthy, he was worried that Classic competitors might have some issues with spectator traffic this week, because of the type of habitat the bass thrive in.
"I was really concerned that these professional anglers were going to be bothered by the viewers because of that," he said. "There's so many stumps and shallow waters, it's going to make a heck of a ruckus for the angler to catch fish."
And he's seen higher weights here. The Classic record was expected to be passed, but the winner Skeet Reese came up just short.
"I might have expected a little bit more, but we had some temperature fluctuations that make it pretty tough," he said. "Just like this cool front that we have right now. And especially with those bystanders, that's a big, big thing."
Five more to tie
As of today, Shreveport/Bossier City needs five to tie and six to lead.
After the 39th Classic wound down Sunday, Brandy Evans of the city's Convention and Tourist Bureau said the town would like to set a Classic record.
"We want to host it more times than Birmingham," she said, not knowing the Alabama city, right down the road from longtime BASS headquarters in Montgomery, Ala., has actually hosted six and has secured next year's event.
With years invested in politicking for the event, Shreveport/Bossier City footed the bill for much of the shebang in hopes the BASS promises of at least 60,000 fans spilling into town would create the anticipated $26 million economic impact.
Well, 100,000 fans made it a crowded Convention Center for the Expo and spilled out of CenturyTel Center for the weigh-ins. The cities' 9,016 hotel rooms were filled and others wanting to stay were referred to surrounding towns.
Evans wouldn't hazard a guess at the new impact total, but did remark, "Of course, we want it back."
Zac Eastwood, 13, got his wish to go to a Classic, but didn't get to see his favorite angler up close and personal-like.
The Pine Bluff youth, traveling with his father Sam and two more friends, made the one-day trip to his first Classic. He made his way around the Expo and weigh-in hobbled a touch with a plastic cast. He broke his leg two weeks ago, he said sheepishly, on a four-wheeler. He was going fishing, though.
"I wanted to meet KVD," he said. "He was leaving as soon as we got (to the Expo)."
He did get to see Bill Dance, Hank Parker and Jimmy Houston, and they talked to Stephen Browning, who they already knew from Arkansas.
Sam has gone to several Classics, including the one down the street in Pine Bluff that Rick Clunn won in 1984.
"I'll talk more when I win the Classic."
"I did think I had a little more. I always seem to overestimate a little bit. It's probably from yelling 'giant' for so many years. I guess after fishing Pittsburgh everything looks big, but I thought I had over 21 pounds, I really did."