When the 2012 Bassmaster Classic comes to Shreveport-Bossier City, La., in February, angler Shane Williams will be there, just like he was in 2009 when the Classic last came to his home waters of the Red River.
This time, instead of watching Classic pros on the Red, Williams wants to be one of them.
“The Classic is every fisherman’s dream. But to be in it at home …” Williams said needs no further explanation.
Williams found four chances to qualify. Three were by entering the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open, the B.A.S.S. circuit that offers Classic seats to each of three event winners. Williams did well for an Open rookie — he ranked 45th in points among 181 Central Open anglers — but only winners get Classic seats through the Opens.
This week Williams will make his fourth and final attempt of 2011. To succeed, he has to beat about 200 other anglers on the South Carolina impoundment of Santee Cooper in the Nov. 9-12 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship presented by American Bass Anglers.
Just like in a Bassmaster Open event, only the Weekend Series champ will get his ticket punched for the Feb. 24-26 Classic.
Williams, 31, competed for years in various circuits before he stepped up into the 2011 Opens. A Weekend Series angler since 2006, he qualified for the circuit’s 2009 and 2010 championships.
Although he has experience in the format, he’s never competed on Santee Cooper. That doesn’t worry him too much; the shallow-water, cypress-tree setup of Santee Cooper gives him confidence.
“A lot of the lakes in northwest Louisiana are the same kind of lake,” said Williams, who lives just south of Shreveport in Keithville, La.
Williams isn’t the only angler in the Weekend Series Championship who calls the Red River home water. He said he knows at least six other anglers with his same incentive: to fish a Classic that’s on home water.
“That’s what we’re going for,” he said.