Graves only fished for about six hours, spending the rest of the time traveling north – very north. Still, he was disappointed by the handful of bass he lost. “If you didn’t realize immediately that you had them, they were gone,” he said.
A cold front swept over Natchitoches early in the morning and anglers said the cooler weather and overcast skies were helpful – especially since the area has been experiencing unusually warm weather lately.
Also key for fourth-place Paul Ferguson of Arp, Texas, were mats on the water. He stayed on the main river all day, flipped on mats to catch 20 keepers and weighed in his 11-12 limit early in the competition. “Staying shallow on the river system was the way to go for me,” he said.
Twenty-three time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier and 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler Gary Klein of Weatherford, Texas, weighed in a limit of 11-10 and was in fifth place. Unlike Ferguson, Klein was one of the few anglers who locked through to Pool 5, which left him just less than three hours to fish. “I have the whole area to myself and think I may actually benefit from a little boat pressure,” he said.
Non-boater Brian Merrifield of Athens, Texas brought in an impressive 11-13, which was plenty to take the lead. Also, Donna Newberry of Van Buren, Ark., the only female non-boater in the Open and an angler in the recent Women’s Bassmaster Tour preview event, is in 15th place with 7-15.
Jeff Kriet, who entered the Red River Central Open as the CITGO Bassmaster Central Open points leader, was in seventh place with 11-8. After Day 2, only the top 50 boaters and non-boaters will fish on Day 3, with their weights carrying over. The winning boater takes home a $50,000 prize package. The Red River Central Open is the last of three in the series. The top 25 boaters in the points standings advance to the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship on the Alabama River, Dec. 1-4, in Prattville, Ala.
Location and Field CITGO Bassmaster Central Open Red River Natchitoches, La. Nov. 10-12, 2005
Launch Grand Ecore Recreation Area 160 Rufus Morgan Road Natchitoches, La., 71458
Weigh-in Grand Ecore Recreation Area 160 Rufus Morgan Road Natchitoches, La., 71458
Day 1 Purolator Big Bass Boater: Ralph Laster, 5-15, Camdenton, Mo. Non-Boater: Brian Merrifield, 4-2, Athens, Texas
Local sponsors: Local sponsors include the City of Natchitoches.
Bassmaster Open Series sponsors: 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) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.