I am fishing two of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens divisions (the Centrals and the Northerns) in 2014 to try to qualify for the 2015 Elite Series rookie class. I delivered a mid-grade performance in the first of the Central Opens so I need to place eighth or better in the next two Centrals or qualify through the Northern division which starts this May. So, for now, all of my focus is on Central Open #2 on the Red River out of Shreveport later this week.
Going into the Louisiana tournament, I am amped. Unlike my other Bassmaster events, I have actually competed on the Red River in the Bassmaster Opens. Last year, the Centrals started in Shreveport; and though I did not place well, I was able to really observe how tournament pressure affects the water, where the majority of pressure was concentrated, what techniques were used and what weights to expect at the scales.
Information is key to fishing these events, especially Shreveport. You can only absorb these details while competing in an Open on a particular body of water. For the first time, I can say I have real tournament experience going into an event but – also for the first time – it is up to me to use my own experience to compete. There is no blame to be passed to anyone but myself. In 2013, I left Shreveport instantly wanting a do-over; God answered with a second shot and I am grateful.
My analytical mind is constantly rolling through information I soaked up at my last Open in Cajun country. Two months before the 2013 Red River event, I was lucky to have a guy show me how to run the river and where the most consistent backwaters were. Using that information, along with how things fished during the tournament, has helped get me organized for this year’s event. But experience on the Red River is not the only experience I have in my arsenal. Last season, I had several situations occur in other Bassmaster Open tournaments that are playing into how I’ll strategize for Shreveport.
First, I cannot afford to put all of my tournament eggs in one basket. I may find great fish in one area but, after a bad draw last year in Virginia, I know you have to have more than one plan because someone may have a better launch number than you and beat you to the goods. It will take using every minute of practice available to develop multiple strategies but the time spent will be worth the long hours. No matter what bites I get or what fish I find, I cannot afford to be satisfied in practice this tournament.
Second, I have to take into account the lock situation. For a bass fishing tournament, we are given a lock schedule. The schedule shows the times the lock will most likely open and close each morning and afternoon of the tournament so that you are able to schedule when to lock back to the main pool to make weigh-in time.