The Red River has been buzzing with activity the past couple of months as 46 of the top competitive anglers from around the country scouted out the waters and bass bite on the Red River in Shreveport/Bossier. Big-name anglers in their fancy fishing shirts and bright colored logo wrapped super bass boats have been fishing every nook and cranny of the river and its backwater lakes. They’ve been pretty hard to miss.
Another angler in the tournament, Paul Clark of Monroe, has been there, too. But the former ULM fisherman, who has earned his spot to cast for the $500,000 first prize and other cash prizes and awards in the Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, August 15-18, on the Red River in Shreveport, has been in his khaki shorts and unmarked shirts fishing out of his dad’s regular Bumble Bee bass boat.
“I just looked like another ordinary local fisherman,” he said. “I’ve seen just about everybody in the tournament on the river at one time or another. They are all in their wrapped boats and fancy trucks. They don’t even know who I am. That’s kind of been my secret weapon.”
He hopes to change that next week. The Red is off limits now (I say if Clark wins it, they start calling it the Maroon River). Practice is Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with Wednesday as press day and the actual tournament is four days – Thursday through Sunday. It’s a grueling schedule.
“I have to be careful that I don’t wear myself out mentally and physically practicing too hard or getting too worked up,” he said in an exclusive lakedarbonnelife.com interview yesterday. “I’m planning to just go fish like I always do in tournaments.”
He will also have a big following. “I’ve got so many people coming I can’t even name them all,” he said. “Family, friends, my whole team. They are all coming. Lots of fans from Monroe and the area will be there.”
We’ll also be bringing you reports on Paul and his success daily on this website. Paul says river fishing fits his favorite style of angling and he can’t talk much about what he is going to do right now. But he has a good plan. There are fish everywhere on the Red, but he does plan on making a long runs. It’s risky, but can pay with much bigger fish. He’ll probably be getting out of the main river into the backwater lakes. Paul has picked up sponsorships from Strike King, Quantum and Vicious Fishing Line.
How has he handled the pressure the last week or so? Pretty well, I’d say. He went to Jamaica on vacation and he didn’t take any rods and reels, although he admits he did a little handline fishing while he was there.
Paul is the only fisherman from Louisiana in the big tourney. Representing the University of Louisiana Monroe at FLW College Fishing events since 2011, Clark has scored third-, sixth- and 10th-place finishes in the Southern Division, a second-place finish during the Southern Conference Championship in 2012 as well as this year’s college national championship title. Clark has also netted over $25,000 in scholarships and winnings since the start of his college fishing career. We wish him the best!
Anglers will take off from Red River South Marina located at 250 Red River South Marina Road in Bossier City, La., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at the CenturyLink Center located at 2000 CenturyLink Center Drive in Bossier City, La., beginning at 5 p.m. daily.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Shreveport Convention Center located at 400 Caddo St. in Shreveport, La., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Saturday and Sunday, 500 free rods and reels will be given away each day to the first 500 children 14 years and under who are accompanied by an adult. The rod and reel giveaways are courtesy of 1130 AM The Tiger. Also on Sunday, one lucky fishing fan will win a Ranger Z520C with a Mercury outboard. The Ranger boat giveaway is courtesy of KSLA News 12 and is free to enter, but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.
If you’ve never been to an event like this and you like bass fishing, you shouldn’t miss it. For a complete schedule see http://www.flwoutdoors.com/bassfishing/flw/tournament/2013/6949/forrest-wood-cup-event-schedule/