The Red River produced 140 five-bass limits for anglers in the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open Thursday in Shreveport. After some rough weather earlier in the week, it was a picture perfect day for fishing the Red. The Red River’s dropping water level created problems for several of the anglers, but Jimmy Johnson of Ganado, Texas, found the conditions to his liking.
“I think it actually helped me,” said Johnson. “It let me see a little bit more of the stuff I was fishing. Visibility is only about 4 inches, so when it dropped about 3 inches, I saw something new to fish.”
The Texan relied on the newly revealed cover to catch a 16-pound, 5-ounce limit and take over the lead in the boater division of the tournament. Despite the falling water, Johnson was able to fish the same lures and areas that he did in practice. The only difference he noticed from practice to the first competition day was the size of the fish.
“The big fish were a surprise,” he said. “The fish just grew a little bit. I had a limit before 8:30 and had a 4-pounder by then. When you get that limit early, you just relax, and then you just go to work.”
While other anglers had to share spots, Johnson found a secluded oxbow where he saw only two other
boats all day. He fished three shallow areas where he believes the postspawn bass he is targeting will replenish in the next two days. A 7-pound largemouth, which was the Carhartt Big Bass of the day, propelled Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., into second place with a 15-14 limit. He caught the big fish — his eighth keeper — around noon.
Rounding out the Top 5 on the pro side are Chad Wiley of Pineville, La., in third place with a 14-12 limit; Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike Iaconelli of New Jersey, fourth, 14-9; and Roy Sanford of Texas, fifth, 14-7. Ernest Smoak of Keatchie, La., took over the lead in the non-boater division with three bass weighing 9 pound, 9 ounces. The Louisiana State University Health Science Center facility maintenance manager said he fishes the Red River at least two or three times a month.
Pro anglers and co-anglers launch each day at 6:30 a.m. from Red River South Marina, Hwy. 71 S., 250 Red River South Marina Rd., Bossier City, LA 71112. Weigh-in today will be held at the Red River South Marina. The final weigh-in on Saturday will be held at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City.