The FLW Tournament trail kicks off at the Red River here in Shreveport Bossier. The local coverage has not been what I expected after seeing all the hubbub surrounding the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. To be honest, I haven't really been watching for any local coverage. In my humble opinion, our local news stations are nothing to get excited over. From what I've read on FLWOutdoors, the tourney will host up to 300 anglers. Top prize appears to be $125,000 for pros and $25,000 for the co-anglers. Not too shabby. The tournament itself starts on February 10th and goes until the 13th. Takeoff is from the Red River South Marina each morning at 7:30am. Weigh-ins for days one through three will be at the marina and on day four, the weigh-in will take place at the Shreveport Convention Center starting at 4pm. Anglers are limited to fishing Pools 3, 4, and 5 and bass that matter must be over 12 inches. Many of our area lakes have a 14 to 17 inch slot limit, but that slot does not apply to the river.
Conditions are somewhat similar to what guys (and one gal) faced in the Bassmaster Classic last year. In '09, morning temps were frigid and the water coming from up north was equally bone-chilling. The bite will surely be difficult, but I think these anglers can manage. Last year, daily sacks hit the 15 to 20lb mark and the winner had 54-13 after all was said and done. I really think conditions are actually better this year. One can only hope, right?
The trick last year seemed to revolve around hitting backwaters. That is no easy task. Anglers in the Classic had a crash course in stump fields. Those stumps stand between them and where they needed to go. These stumps are serious hazards, so it's no laughing matter. But the Red is always changing. No telling what they'll be up against. The real question to ponder is this. Will the bass be turned on enough for anglers to bring them in? Many were surprised at what they found fishing the Red during the Classic. I suspect this tournament will be no different. The cold snap then did not push the bass as deep as expected, but they were not as aggressive either. Welcome to prespawn on the Red River. Keep your eyes on the weather forecast.
An FLW article interviewed Clark Wendlandt and according to him, the prespawn bass are going to be shallow. He has his own plan with regard to lures, but being local, I'd like to share my thoughts. Jigs should be at the top of the list. Whether anglers decide to swim them or fish the bottom is up to them. Consider Paca Chunk trailers and colors in the blue/black and black/red schemes. Using a jig, one can flip stumps and quite often, pull more than one nice fish off of the same stump. Chew on that for a while. The swimblade or Chatterbait style lure might be of interest, but I doubt many will be throwing those things. Skeet Reese nailed some nice ones on a Redemption spinnerbait, flipping, and tossing a Chigger Craw. If I remember right, Ike went finesse and did a fair amount of cranking too. Local favorite baits include Sweet Beavers, white/chartreuse spinnerbaits, Baby Brush Hogs, and stickworms. Craw colored rattle baits do well on area lakes, but I'm not sure how they perform on the Red River. Expect to see these baits take center stage among FLW anglers as well. The Red River doesn't have many secrets left.
Now if only I can decide whether or not I want to do FLW Fantasy Fishing. I'm going to try to make the weigh-ins. Not sure if I'll make the morning take off. I need to know the specifics. Last year, the marina was roped off and we had to park at the Century Tel arena and catch a bus down to the launch. I'll try to cover what I can.
Some useful related links:
(Unfortunately, with the 2011 redesign of the FLW web site, most of these links no longer work.)
NOAA/NWS: Red River at Shreveport