Ron Welch, the California B.A.S.S. Nation representative, had a bit of boat trouble when prefishing on the Ouachita River.
"I hit a stump on the river and completely broke my motor mount on my big motor and bent the shaft on my front motor," Welch said. "This morning I took my boat to the Mercury service crew here onsite, and they fixed it right up for me!"
Welch said the fix came just in time because he to take full advantage of the first official practice day Tuesday.
"I owe him," Welch said. "He even got my spare motor ready to go!"
Australian B.A.S.S. Nation angler Troy Danes celebrated his 37th birthday in the United States.
"If he flew home today, he'd miss his birthday completely," said B.A.S.S. Nation director Jon Stewart. "We're glad he's here to celebrate with us!"
Danes also visited Bass Pro Shops for the first time Sunday.
"I thought I would spend $50," Danes said. "But, I ended up spending $450 because there was so much great stuff!"
When New Jersey B.A.S.S. Nation representative Mike Sentore was preparing to fish the Ouachita River in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, he booted up his electronics only to learn he didn't have any data for the river.
"I let a representative from Navionics know that I couldn't get information on the Ouachita River," said Sentore. "Once they knew we were fishing a major national tournament here, they immediately aggreed to send 60 updated chips for all of the B.A.S.S. Nation competitors."
"They told me they'll be here tomorrow, and that's awesome" Sentore said.
Ian MacDonald from Illinois sends in this update over the weekend:
Almost out of the prairie state and ready to leave the frost behind. Very tempted to make a pit stop at Newton Lake but can't stop now... Only 8 more hours! Is it Tuesday yet?
Leaving Ontario and Mother Nature has the last laugh after we made a joke about Ontario snow!
Gianni Rizzo came over from Italy to represent his country in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
But before he settled in at the tournament site in Monroe, he visited Falcon Lake in Texas and caught these beasts! They don't grow 'em like that in Italy. Welcome to America, Gianni!
Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Contender Doug Brownridge has the boat loaded and is looking for warmer weather!
Edit: This isn't actually Doug's boat, just a joke. He does expect some snow before they leave on Saturday, though.
Bass Angling in Namibia is very excited and honored to be part of the B.A.S.S. Nation.
Traveling half way across the globe to get from Windhoek Namibia, to Monroe LA., is a true challenge. I had to leave from Windhoek (Namibia), to Johannesburg (South Africa - where i still am at the moment).
From here I will fly to Dubai (UAE) and then on to Dallas TX.
From there we are taking a "road trip" from Dallas TX to Monroe TX.
I am traveling with Mr. Neil Engelbrecht (and his wife). Neil is the President of the B.A.S.S. Nation Namibia, and will represent Namibia at the B.A.S.S. Nation meetings.
Nation angler Stephen Lund shares some of the sights of the Ouachita River with us as he prepares for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship next week.
Below is an excerpt of a letter Tim Johnston sent to all of the competitors in the Montana B.A.S.S. Nation, which he will represent at the championship.
I just arrived home from my Ouachita River pre-fish in Louisiana and wanted to say thank you again for the kind and supportive e-mails and phone calls.
My 2,100 mile trip started two weeks ago with boat in tow. I planned to pre-fish for a total of nine days. The travel weather was great, but while listening to the national news on travel day one, I heard that a hurricane had struck the city of Monroe (the BNC host city). Damage was pretty severe. No lives were lost, but work crews labored around the clock for about one week to clean up downed trees and repair power lines etc. This resulted in the main boat launch being inaccessible for several days.
I can explain the Ouachita River in one word … TREACHEROUS! I hit so many stumps and pieces of metal with my boat that I lost count. The water was high (after the rains) and muddy. You could not see even 1 inch below the water’s surface. I had a local friend in the boat with me (on the first day), that fishes the river weekly. Even he was having difficulty navigating some back water areas that he’s been fishing since childhood! People mark their property lines with metal T-posts and some anglers think it’s a good idea to pound 1/2-inch rebar into the water in order to identify the location of certain stumps. I finally made my way out of the backwater areas onto the main river. I thanked my friend for keeping me safe and proceeded upriver to fish a few areas. Ten minutes later, I hit a GIANT log floating just under the surface. After shutting the boat down, I trimmed up the engine to check for damage. After such a hard hit, I was surprised to see no visual damage. We fished the rest of the day with little results.
I had a few mishaps over the week of fishing. I lost my trailer lights which turned out to be a burnt fuse. My Tahoe developed a flat tire which needed to be repaired. I left my boat tarp folded on the ground of the camp site in which a large lizard took up residence. I was stuck on a sandbar for about 30 minutes until figuring out a way to free myself. My face was covered with little spiders when I went close to a tree to free my lure, and an alligator raised his head out of the water next to my boat when retrieving my topwater lure. Probably the scariest thing that happened was when I was fishing a high current area and deciding to proceed to another spot using my trolling motor. My boat was in 19 feet of water. I placed my trolling motor on high and while moving quickly to another area, my big engine came in contact with a standing tree. My boat came to an abrupt stop and I fell head first hitting the left side of my face against the head of my trolling motor. I was sore for a few days and from that point on, I did not utilize a trolling motor speed over half power.
My strategy for finding fish was to cover several miles of shoreline per day using a variety of lures. With the river levels and current controlled by three dams, each day was different. Sometimes the current was strong and other times it would be flowing backward into the bayous. After several days of short striking fish, I increased my line size, decreased my tungsten weights, enlarged my hooks and shortened my plastic baits. This increased my hook-up percentage from about 30 to 70 percent. I found several fish on shallow stump fields, but the water dropped 1 1/2 feet over a one-week period leaving some of my areas “high and dry.” I was able to catch a limit most days that weighed between 6 to 8 pounds. One day I had a little over 10 pounds, but that was my best limit over nine fishing days. An FLW tournament was fished here in November of 2012 and it took less than 10 pounds per day over four days to win the event.
These river fish bite different. After they grab a lure they’re gone (either off and running with the lure or they drop it)! Line watching really helps. It’s reel fast and set! I’ve never missed so many fish. I know that not all of them are bass, but my tackle change has certainly made a difference in my confidence and landing percentage.
During my flight back to Montana, I wondered why anyone would host a tournament on these waters when so many other venues are available. I have to admit, however, that I learned a lot in the past few days. In a way I feel like I survived a difficult challenge and had some success. I know that I’ve gained a great deal of respect for “river fishermen.” There are so many variables to fishing the Ouachita and many of these variables change daily or even hourly. I appreciate B.A.S.S. holding an event that takes me way out of my comfort zone. I’ll work as hard as I can in the tournament and do my best to represent Montana B.A.S.S. I appreciate your prayers and am thankful for your friendship.