Fog delays Bassmaster Classic start

The 2011 Bassmaster Classic kicks off this morning, but thick fog has delayed the scheduled 7 a.m. blast-off.

“It’s really bad,” said Luling’s Bruce McDonald, who went to Bayou Segnette State Park to watch the 50 competitors head out. “It’s probably less than a quarter of a mile visibility.

“I can barely see across the bayou. When I tried to take pictures this morning, it looked like it was raining on my lens.”

B.A.S.S. Communications’ Melissa Dixon told via text that the field will be held until half the fishing day passed. That means competition will be canceled if the fog doesn’t break at Bayou Segnette State Park before 11:07, she texted. will announced the final decision as soon as it’s made. So continue checking the site’s dedicated Bassmaster Classic Updates page for the latest news on the world championship.

If the field is released, the outlook was a little less bleak in Venice, where about half of the Classic field planned to run.

“It’s pretty thick, but out our boats went out,” Venice Marina’s Kimberly Mertz said. “I can’t really see the other side marina (basin), but it’s not too bad.”

Of course, anglers only have a maximum of about three hours of fishing time, so if the field is held too long anglers will have to punt and stay closer to the launch.

“If everything goes perfect, you’ve got three hours of fishing,” Mississippi’s Paul Elias said during yesterday’s Media Day. “So I figure I’ve got to catch my fish in two hours.”

Obviously, even an hour’s delay in the launch makes a run to the mouth of the Mississippi River almost undoable.

Louisiana Sportsman editor Todd Masson was sitting in his boat just before 7 a.m. across the river in Delacroix, and he said the visibility was awful.

“It’s terrible,” Masson said. “I’m about to leave the dock, and it’s really foolish. Now that I’m in the water I can barely see the other side of (Bayou) Terre Aux Boeufs.

“It’s pea soup. It’s really thick. They can’t fish in this, I know that.”

Mertz lamented the development, which has been forecast all week but never developed until today

“Today is the first day we’ve had fog,” she said. “It’s been clear every other day.”

McDonald said competitors were greeted by crowds of spectators who showed up to send them off.

“You ought to see the people out here,” he said. “There’s probably a thousand people.”

If the fishing day isn’t canceled, the weigh-in will take place this afternoon at the New Orleans Arena. Doors open to the public at 3 p.m., and admission is free.

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Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.