The best of the Federation Nation (click to view the Federation championship contenders photo gallery) will square off on a sister river of last year’s championship waters. The Ouachita flows into the Red River, the site of the 2010 Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter, and water conditions should be similar to last year’s fish-off.
Hot, dry weather has kept the river low and clear with minimal flow, so Stan Williams, Louisiana B.A.S.S. Federation Nation District 2 director, said he expects bass on his home waters will still be in a summertime pattern during the championship.
“The first thing in the morning, there will be a topwater bite in any of the cuts,” said Williams, who noted the most productive topwaters are Rapala Skitter Pops, Zara Spooks and buzzbaits. Running a plastic frog through the lily pads should also produce in Bayou D’Arbonne.
When the sun starts beating down on the contenders, they will have to switch to flipping jigs or Texas-rigged soft plastics (Sweet Beavers, Brush Hogs or plastic worms) into the shady areas of cover in the backwaters. Running square-billed crankbaits around shallow wood and banging deep-diving crankbaits into the stumps of channel cuts in the 7- to 10-foot range will likely also generate strikes throughout the day, Williams predicted.
Because the river is full of keeper fish ranging from 12 inches to 3 pounds, Williams said a solid game plan for the contenders would be to catch a quick limit there and then head for Bayou D’Arbonne where 5- and 6-pound largemouth lurk.
“The river will be good for quantity,” Williams said, “but if you are going for a big fish, you are going to have to get off the river and punch or flip in the shade of the backwaters.”
The contestants come from across the globe, representing 47 states, plus Ontario, Mexico, Japan, Italy, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Also competing is Tony Choe, the Angler of the Year from the Paralyzed Veterans of America Tour. Brandon Palaniuk of Idaho, who won the 2010 championship on the Red River and subsequently joined the Bassmaster Elite Series, has chosen not to defend his title.
The Ouachita River was the site of the Open Championship in December 2004. Bradley Stringer won the four-day event with 45 pounds, 15 ounces. Local angler Stan Williams said he predicts the winning weight of this three-day championship will be 27 pounds.
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|Forage base||threadfin shad and bluegill|
|River length||60 miles of competition waters|
|Average depth||30 feet deep in the channel and 5 to 6 feet in Bayou D’Arbonne|
|Water clarity||2 feet of visibility|
|Dominant structure/cover||stumps, buckbrush, lily pads and channel ledges|
|Predicted winning weight||27 pounds|