Every now and again the stars align and things just seem to go right. So it was with James Niggemeyer last week as he fished the first Central Open of 2009 on Toledo Bend. His predictions in "A Pro's Approach" before the event started were right on the mark. And his fishing speaks for itself — he won the tournament in a fish-off on Sunday.
"I was catching solid keepers slow rolling a Strike King Premier Plus spinnerbait in practice but when the tournament started I was able to do better fishing the beds," he explains. "That surprised me a little bit. It might have been caused by the weather or it could have been because of other factors. I honestly don't know."
The weather to which he refers was a high wind advisory that forced BASS Tournament Director Chris Bowes to cancel the first day of competition. That changed everything about this tournament.
Normally there would have been a cut on Friday to reduce the field to 30 anglers for the third (and final) day. But because Thursday was canceled, the tournament was shortened to a two-day event with a full field fishing both days. Saturday's standings were determined by 10-fish limits, not the usual 15.
But that wasn't all. Niggemeyer and second-place finisher, Jerrel Pringle, of Hemphill, Texas, tied for first at the Saturday afternoon weigh-in with identical weights of 37 pounds, 14 ounces. A 5-fish limit fish-off was scheduled for Sunday.
Niggemeyer won the event with a full stringer on Sunday that weighed 14 pounds, 1 ounce. That easily bested Pringle's three-fish sack that weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Despite all of the schedule changes, Niggemeyer's weight predictions were dead-on. He predicted a 30-pound cut-weight for Friday evening. Had there been a cut after two days, the last slot would have gone to David Truax with 28 pounds, 15 ounces.
And he said it'd take around 55 pounds to win. Niggemeyer won with a total weight of 51 pounds, 15 ounces. That's a little short of 55, but not much. The biggest bass of the tournament was boated by Harold Allen. That largemouth weighed 10 pounds, 15 ounces, which matches up nicely with Niggemeyer's 10-pound prediction.
Even his miss with Ben Matsubu — Niggemeyer's pick as the angler to watch — wasn't that far off the mark. Matsubu finished the two-day event in the 36th slot with a total weight of 28 pounds, 1 ounce. That's not great, but 36 out of 200 isn't a complete disaster, either.
James Niggemeyer earned an A.