SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. – The life of a professional bass angler can occasionally test the patience of even the most-seasoned competitors.
There are a lot of nights with not enough sleep, there are long stretches of lonely road and there’s always the struggle, the desire, to get to the top.
Chad Morganthaler is an angler looking to get to the top, and early indications in 2013 show he’s well on his way.
Morganthaler made the decision last year to fish each of this year’s open events on the Southern, Central and Northern circuits. That’s a nine-event schedule covering wildly varying fisheries across America. The Illinois pro is off to a good start, though, with a fourth-place finish at Lake Toho in the first Southern Open in February, followed by a 13th-place finish at Lake Douglas two months later. The effort has Morganthaler currently leading the Southern points race.
On Thursday, in the first Central Open, Morganthaler made another statement with an 11-pound, 12-ounce bag in the pro division. That was good enough to put him in 25th place and well within the range he needs to be to make cut to 12 after Friday’s fishing.
He said his goal of competing in nine different open events in 2013 is twofold.
“One, I want to make it to the Elite Series,” he said. “Two, I want to make it to the Classic. You catch a little momentum and then you keep it going.”
Morganthaler said he and his wife Debbie have been on the road since December and have been traveling from lake to lake, river to river, for practice and tournaments. He’s fishing other tours, as well, so his schedule allows little time for rest.
Not that he minds. After all, he’s making steady progress toward the goals he’s set for himself.
“We aligned things this year to be able to do this, to fish all these events,” Morganthaler said. “I have to play (the final Southern Open at Alabama’s Lake Logan Martin in May) pretty safe, because I’m leading that point series. But here at this Central Open, I can take a chance and go for a bigger sack. I played it pretty safe today, but I think I may go for broke tomorrow.”
Shreveport’s Aaron Johnson fished his first open event on the Red River in 2008. The first day of that event happened to coincide with his fifth wedding anniversary, and he caught a similar bag that day (the seven-pound range) as he did Thursday in the 2013 Central Open on the Red River.
On the second day of that event in 2008, however, some storms rolled through and Johnson landed an 18-pound sack. Well, tomorrow is his 10th wedding anniversary and he’s hoping for some “second-day luck” again on the Red.
A decent chance of rain is predicted tomorrow. Could that be an ominous sign of good things to come?
“I’m going to the same place I did today, which is the same place I caught that big bag back in 2008,” Johnson said. “But I’m definitely going to have to make some changes. I fished slow today. Tomorrow, I’m going to have my foot on the trolling motor and keep moving around.”
“I had to call an audible and go to some different spots. The river dropped two or three inches last night and here on this river, that’s huge.” -- Duane Pittman, a Louisiana boater, who weighed in a 13-pound limit on Thursday.
A less sweet drop
J’van Perez said the water drop on the Red River was even more dramatic where he tried to fish on Thursday. Perez said the water he fished (and found productive) in practice has since dropped 2 ½ feet. After a decent start on Thursday, he and his co-angler got stuck on a sandbar upriver for nearly 90 minutes before another angler helped him get free.
The Marion, Texas, angler finished with three fish for 3 pounds, 12 ounces, but said he won’t let the slow start stop him.
“It’s all mental. You have to do a 180 and turn it around. I’ll be on the water, one way or another.”
Perez uses a wheelchair for mobility after injuries sustained in 2007 in the Iraqi War.
Another local quotable
“The locks, they sucked (the water) all out. And all those boats, it all muddied up the water. There’s no other way to say it. I had two 6-pounders up beside the boat today, but couldn’t get them in. When that happens to you, it’s bad.” -- Homer Humphreys Jr., a longtime north Louisiana pro who struggled to catch just more than three pounds on Thursday.
Wanting to impress
“I hope one day I can catch a big bag of fish and bring them up here to you.” -- Texas pro angler Logan Sherrer to BASS Senior Tournament Manager Chris Bowes after bringing a five-fish limit of 5-13 to the stage on Thursday.