Amistad is one of BASS' legendary heavy-weight destinations for the Elite Series. Located about 12 miles from Del Rio, Texas, along the United States-Mexico border, this Rio Grande and Devils River impoundment covers approximately 64,900 acres at normal pool.
But, as of this week, it's not at normal pool. The water's up 10 to 12 feet above last year's Elite Series tournament levels. That's a fact of great consequence.
"The water's way up this year. That spreads an already big body of water out even further," says Pete Ponds, an Elite Series angler who hails from Madison, Miss. "And it also spreads out the fish. I think that'll have a huge impact on the event.
"Given the conditions, and the time of the year, the spawn is likely to control everything. Some of the bass are moving toward the beds, some are on the beds, and some are postspawn. That gives us a lot of options."
Those options include being able to catch bass on almost anything that's moving fast. And it also means that at some point bed fishing will play a part in the 2009 Battle on the Border.
"I think guys will be able to catch decent males on almost any moving bait this week. Jigs, crankbaits, jerkbaits, plastics and even swimbaits will all be productive. There are thousands of acres of flooded desert out there and the water's as warm as can be. That makes for aggressive Texas bass.
But that doesn't mean bed fishing won't count; it will. A sack of males won't win this one; you'll need more weight than they can give you. That's why I say the weather will be critical this week.
"There's a cold front with heavy cloud cover moving through the area that'll affect the females and make bed fishing difficult. But the skies are supposed to clear by late on Saturday and into Sunday. That means bed fishing will jump to the forefront late in the tournament, especially on Sunday."
Based on what he's seen after two days of practice, Ponds believes it'll take 30 pounds to fish on Saturday; 55 pounds to launch on Sunday morning; and 78 pounds to claim first place. Along with those prophesies, Ponds says the biggest bass of the event will tip the scales at 9 pounds.
"I want to issue one warning about the weights, however. If the clouds clear and the sun pops out earlier than predicted ,they could go up. If bedding bass are easy to find all bets are off."
But what about the notorious Amistad wind?
"I don't think it'll make any difference unless it forces BASS to cancel a day. Most of the fish are close to protected areas. If we can launch we can get to them and fish them. It's really a non-factor in my opinion."
When asked about anglers to watch — other than Kevin VanDam — he directs our attention to Takahiro Omori and Matt Reed. He believes both have the necessary skills to be a serious threat on Amistad this year.
These fish are scattered in heavy cover under shallow, clear water conditions. Anyone who can accurately reach them with long casts and then get them into the boat with lighter line will do well. In my opinion that's the sleeper factor of this year's Amistad Lake tournament — watch Omori and Reed."