MORGAN CITY, La. — The Junior Bassmasters will launch their boats on the Atchafalaya Basin on Friday in the Junior competition phase of the 2012 Cabela's B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Central Divisional. Each angler is looking toward a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Junior World Championship.
Two Louisiana youth anglers, Christopher Chandler and Blake Betz, predict somewhat tough conditions caused mainly by the heat and two days of heavy fishing pressure. Chandler, 14, a member of the Jr. Southwest Bassmasters who’s fishing in the 11-14 age group, says that after two full days of adult competition on the same body of water, it’s not going to be easy on the youth.
“It’s going to be tough,” he says matter-of-factly. “I’ve been doing some flipping and pitching with plastics. It hasn’t been great, but I think I can catch a few. My guess is that it’ll take around 10 or 12 pounds to win my age group. Everybody pretty much agrees that catching fish isn’t the problem. It’s catching keepers.”
If that sounds a little conservative, consider that it’s higher than his fellow teammate predicts. Blake Betz, 18, a member of the Ascension Area Anglers who’s fishing in the 15-18 age group, says he thinks 8 to 10 pounds will get the job done for the older youth.
“This heat has really made it hard. They just aren’t biting like they normally would,” he says. “I think I might have a couple of things that are starting to come together, but you never know until you actually start fishing.”
Their concerns are understandable. It is hotter than the devil and there has been a lot of pressure on the Basin. But, if the adult competition is any guide, things might turn out better than these two young men think. The adults had a pretty good start on Wednesday, stronger than most anyone predicted. Lots of guys caught limits and there were several bass weighed in the 3- to 4-pound range. Maybe that’ll happen with the youth.
The Atchafalaya Basin is big, really big. You could spend a lifetime fishing it and not cover even a small percentage of her waters. And the water moves with the tide and the river. That movement constantly alters the cover and repositions the bass. At times, it becomes a new fishery in a matter of hours.
All it takes is for one angler to get hot for a few minutes, and it’s a different tournament. Like the man said, “They’re always biting somewhere, for someone.”
Tune in for weigh-ins at 2:15 p.m. CT.