The Red River, fishery for the upcoming 2012 Bassmaster Classic, has hosted 10 other pro-level Bassmaster events since 2000.
That doesn’t mean that most of the 49 qualifiers for the 2012 Classic are on familiar ground — er, water. But many do know their way around the Red. And many can look back now at past tournaments and see how they’ve got some good Red karma going for the Feb. 24-26 Classic out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
Two of the 49 anglers, Brent Chapman and Davy Hite, have earned Red River trophies in Bassmaster events. Chapman won the Louisiana Central Invitational in May 2000. Hite got it done on the Red in a November 2001 Louisiana Bassmaster Tour event.
Michael Iaconelli is the de facto Red River defending champ because of his runner-up finish in the 2009 Red River Classic to Skeet Reese, who didn’t qualify for the 2012 Classic. Toss in the good Louisiana vibes for Iaconelli’s Classic crown won on the Delta in 2003, and Iaconelli has a good thing going.
Several other current qualifiers turned in notable 2009 Classic performances on the Red: Edwin Evers, fifth; Aaron Martens, ninth; Casey Ashley, 13th; Alton Jones, 14th; and Kevin Wirth, 15th.
Evers, by the way, rolled all over the Red earlier in the decade. He was seventh in the 2000 Invitational won by Chapman; 11th in the derby Hite won in 2001; and 25th in a 2002 Central Open.
In that same 2002 Open, three 2012 Classic qualifiers hit the top 10: Mark Tucker was third; Greg Hackney (the only 2012 qualifier who lives in Louisiana) was fourth, and Chapman was 10th.
For Keith Combs, a 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series rookie who has now qualified for his second Classic, the 2010 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Red River was at least good practice. Combs finished fourth in that Open, which, incidentally, was won by Chad Brauer, son of 2012 Classic qualifier Denny Brauer.
And although it can’t be counted as being on the professional level, Brandon Palaniuk’s Red River history is so positive, it can’t be discounted either. Palaniuk won the 2010 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship on the Red River, an accomplishment that sent him to 2011 Classic, and launched his Bassmaster Elite Series career.