B.A.S.S. Central recap on the Red River
I recently got back from fishing my first B.A.S.S. Open on Louisiana's Red River and just in time to cram for a few finals. Of course I have plenty of time to take a short study break and tell you all about my experience on one of the most treacherous and vast bodies of water I have every been on. There are certain bodies of water that I have been on such as Lake Okeechobee and now, the Red River, where you launch a boat and have no clue where to start. The Red River has more cover from one end to the other than almost any other place I have ever been. Even worse than this is the fact that an angler can choose to run as far as he wants, just as long as he has enough time and gas to make it back. Making the task even more difficult for me was the fact that I would get three days of practice and then have to drive 9 hours back to Auburn to attend a presentation for my "Data Based Decision Making with Six Sigma" class and then turn right back around and head back to Shreveport.
With the presentation behind me and nothing on my mind but figuring out these bass, I began Day 1 of the tournament with a pretty good feeling about catching some fish. As I got to my first area I found that there were already a few anglers milling around in the backwater only a couple of miles from the ramp, but this really did not bother me and in fact was something I expected. I knew I could catch fish behind them on the dropshot I had rigged up, as I could tell they were flipping creature baits and bulky jigs. In my past experiences with bedding fish, which was predominantly what I was fishing for, a drop shot can be a deadly and dominating bait for fish in this stage. The only problem to the area producing fish was the fact that I had really discounted the idea of several trolling motors banging around over the tops of these fish. I stayed in this area far too long and also chose to skip by the next place I had in mind for fear that more boats might be in there. This would prove to be a costly decision. I fished around all day, never really putting together a pattern and coming in totally puzzled that I was only to catch four fish for a total weight of 4-11.
Day 2 I knew that I had to put my head down and fish. I know KVD says its all about the attitutude... well my attitude was "MAD AT 'EM." I knew I was capable of a weight far above the 4-11 that I had caught on Day 1. Even worse than that was that I knew I had the ability to really catch fish on the baits and presentations I used on Day 1 I just needed to make better decisions on the water and fish slow and thorough in the areas I knew had the most potential. I chose to start next to the ramp and fish an area more thoroughly where I had caught a 3 ½ lb fish in practice and one of my keepers the day before. I fished through for a while without a bite and finally made a stray cast up to a stump in no more than 6" of water and off swims the dropshot. I caught two keepers right off the bat on two stumps next to each other—both in extremely shallow water. Having these two keepers before 8:30 and knowing I had the opportunity to fish until 4:30 that day really helped me to slow down and fish thorough all day long. My biggest fish of the day was one close to 4 ¼ lbs and I caught her on a bomber square A shallow crankbait. This is an awesome bait to throw around and deflect off of shallow stumps that are sitting in less than three feet of water. My most productive setup was a dropshotting a 6" Yum Mightee worm in Bama Bug. I used 17-lb Silverthread Line, a 4/0 Rebarb Roboworm hook, and a 3/16th ounce xcalibur tungsten weight. I also used a small swivel up above the hook in order to eliminate line twist. Many people associate dropshotting as being strictly a light-line technique but this is not the case. I have discovered over the past few years that a dropshot is one of the most versatile setups out there. In many instances I found that I would have to let the bait sit in the strikezone for at least 5 seconds before getting a fish to bite. I used a 7'1 Medium Envy Rod for the squarebill and a 7'1 MH Envy Rod for the dropshot. If you have not had the chance to check out either the Envy or Omen lineup from 13 Fishing, I really recommend you do so. I have been really impressed with their performance and cannot wait to showcase some new ideas we have coming in the near future.
Overall, this was not the way I had envisioned my first B.A.S.S. Open going but I was blessed to have the second day that I did. Now I really have to ace the next to events if I want to have a shot at qualifying for the Elite Series and getting the opportunity to chase my dreams next year. Thank you everyone for your continued support. It means the world.