SHREVEPORT, La — (Saturday, 14, 2000) A strong and steady performance from Oklahoma's O.T. Fears combined with a disastrous final round for Slade Dearman of Onalaska, Texas upended the standings at the $232,000 BASSMASTER Louisiana Invitational on the Red River.
On the strength of a final-round limit of eight pounds, 14 ounces, Fears realized a $51,000 payday with a three-day total of 31-15, while Dearman, the second round leader, struggled to boat one fish (weighing just one pound, one ounce) — dropping him to fourth place with 26-15.
In tournament circles, Fears found the kind of spot that everyone dreams about, an isolated laydown in an unappealing river oxbow that offered little in the way of cover. In fact, the Sallisaw, Oklahoma pro caught nearly every one of his bass off a single, fallen pecan tree, repeatedly returning to it during the day — not only to catch fish, but to make sure that other anglers searching for bass didn't find it. "I had confidence because it was tough for everybody, I was catching a better average-size fish there. Plus, there's a lot of deep water in this area, maybe 23 or 24-feet deep," remarked Fears about fishing conditions on the Red River that were decidedly tougher than expected. "There were so many shad in there. Everytime I went back to that tree, I would catch a couple. I started the motor today (final round) and about a six-pounder jumped right at the base of the tree!"
Alternating between an eight-inch Zoom Dead Ringer curl-tail worm (watermelon/red flake with a dipped chartreuse tail) and a Norman Scooper crankbait (a 2 1/2-inch khaki/black-backed crankbait that dives to approximately eight feet), Fears found both baits — worked close to the partially submerged tree — equally effective. Fears' astounding laydown — laying in water from four-to 15-feet — produced over 40 bass for him and his partners over the three days of competition.
If not for a first-day decision, Kelly Jordon of Mineola, Texas may have walked away with the title, especially since his final-day effort of 14-9 brought him well within striking distance at 29-12. Following a poor practice in Pool 5 near the Clark's Marina weigh-in site, Jordon opted to run upriver to Shreveport, flipping isolated laydowns with a Lake Fork Tackle Trophy Tube rigged on a 3/16-ounce tungsten MegaWeight, 50-pound SpiderWire and a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. However, Jordon's decision to run north didn't happen until midday of the first round, which only produced two fish weighing four pounds, four ounces.
"I admit it, I made a bad decision that first day," said Jordon. "But, tournament fishing is all about decisions." A second-round effort of 10-15 vaulted him into 27th position, paving the way for his final day surge into second place.
Rounding out the top five was Jay Yelas of Tyler, Texas (third) with 28-9, Slade Dearman of Onalaska, Texas (fourth) weighing 26-15 and Ted Pate of Alexandria, Louisiana (fifth) at 26-5.
On Saturday, the CastingKids competition - sponsored by Chevy Trucks and Zebco was well-attended, producing two local champions in 9-year-old Cameron Pate of Heflin, Louisiana and Ben Clark, 13, of nearby Bossier City.
Ranger Boats, RangerTrail Trailers, Mercury Outboards, Chevy Trucks, ACDelco Batteries, Worldwaters.com, Humminbird/Zercom Marine, Pennzoil Marine, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, First USA/B.A.S.S. Platinum Visa, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Gore-Tex Outerwear and GMAC Insurance.
Shreveport Regional Sports Authority.