In that event, the pros will be focused on two goals:
• Capturing the $50,000 top prize.
• Doing well enough to finish in the top 25 in the season-long standings, which guarantees those anglers a trip to the no-entry-fee Open Championship Dec. 1-4 on the Alabama River in Prattville, Ala. The top five finishers in that event receive invitations to the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla., Feb. 24-26.
And it all comes down to three important days of fishing on the northern Louisiana waterway. “There’s a lot at stake in this tournament, that’s for sure,” said Homer Humphreys, an Open competitor and longtime guide on the river. “It should be an interesting tournament.”
Humphreys, of Minden, La., says competitors will not find the Red River at its bass-surrendering best. “It’s going to be typical fall fishing here, which is tough,” the 56-year-old said. “To give you an idea of what to expect, we just had a big tournament here and the three-day winning weight was just more than 25 pounds.”
That’s a far cry from some previous winning weights on the river, including:
• Ken Christ’s 53 pounds, 13 ounces, which secured the 2003 BASS Federation Championship.
• The 41 pounds, 8 ounces Davy Hite of South Carolina caught to take a 2001 CITGO Bassmaster Tour event.
• The 50-3 Kansan Brent Chapman brought in to win a BASS Invitational in 2000.
“I think 11 pounds a day will win it,” Humphreys said. “The Red River has never been fantastic for big bass in the fall. You might see a 14- to 16-pound stringer caught in the tournament, but chances are the person who catches it won’t duplicate it.”
The pros will have plenty of water to fish in this event as tournament waters are north of Lock and Dam #2, which include Pools 3, 4 and 5.
Humphreys predicts the most successful Open pros will first target main-lake spots to catch a limit on crankbaits and spinnerbaits before moving into the backwater areas in search of bigger bass. The backwater bass are susceptible to several techniques, including spinnerbaiting, buzzbaiting and flipping/pitching.
Pool 3 will likely receive plenty of fishing pressure. In addition to the area’s abundant fishery, Humphreys said local tournaments typically release their bass there. “As a result, there are more bigger-sized fish there than ever before,” he said.
The biggest bass typically live in Pool 5, which requires a long run and gambling with the lock system.
Weigh-ins will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Grand Ecore Recreation Area, 160 Rufus Morgan Road, Natchitoches, La., 71458. Local sponsors include the City of Natchitoches.
Sponsors of the Bassmaster Open Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-22208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.