Alton Jones Jr. catches a giant

Opens angler Alton Jones Jr. caught a monster bass on Day 2 of the Central Open on Red River. It was so big he took time out from fishing to send us this picture. 

Estel adds number two and three

Luke Estel bolstered his bag mightily with his second keeper, which was a 4+ pound largemouth. He followed it up a few minutes later with a smaller third keeper, but at this point he will take keepers to go with his big time kicker. 

His kicker is all of four pounds according to Estel and it could be bigger, but at least at the moment he is on track to match his Day 1 weight. He probably has three keepers for 7 pounds conservatively, possibly 7 1/2.

Estel is certainly pleased that his only solid area and pattern is paying off.

Do or die for Estel

Luke Estel started Day 2 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open in 3rd place on the pro side with 11 pounds, 2 ounces. He was just 12 ounces off the lead to start the day and is in a good position after a tough Day 1 for the 178-boat field. 

"I'm staying in this place all day," Estel said. "The only way I would leave here is if I caught a good bag pretty quick."

With the weights stacked so tight, a three-pounder is more crucial than ever. Estel said there is no point in abandoning this backwater pond because we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. That is true for both life and the sport of bass fishing. If Estel holds anything back today or tries to save it he may not get a shot at tomorrow

He has already been gifted a "bonus" fish this morning as he made a guy decision to cast off the other side of the boat and it yielded a 2+ pounder. He seems to have this tiny backwater pond to himself and he hopes it stays that way for today and possibly tomorrow
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Day 2 underway

Day 2 of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Red River is underway as the full field heads out for Friday's action in Shreveport. 

River changes

The multiple floods that have hit Louisiana over the last year have changed the river fisheries like the Red River and Atchafalaya. Last night a Louisiana DNR officer spoke to anglers about being more cautious than normal because the areas that were fine to travel over by boat may not be this time around. 

The sand, silt and mud that has washed from land into this fishery has changed the contour lines and the navigable waters greatly. For instance, this sand bar that now has grass growing on it wasn't here last year at this time, but it looks as if it's been here forever. 

A lot of these areas are enclosed with rock jetties, which with high water is dangerous because you can't see them in the dirty Red River water color. 

Heading south

After leaving the takeoff area my boat driver JP Kimbrough and I headed south toward a couple backwater oxbows that we thought anglers would be in. 

One of the first anglers we found was college angler Tyler Rivet. The Nicholls State angler has proven himself over the last two years in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series with two Top 8 finishes in the National Championship. In 2015 he was a participant in the Classic Bracket and this year he barely missed out on the opportunity. 

He decided to fish the Central Opens this year and test himself on the pro side. While we watched the young angler he boated his first keeper. He said he lost two fish in thick hyacinth earlier and couldn't pull them out. 

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George appears

Sam George pulled into the area I was covering Alton Jones Jr. They are traveling partners so it's no surprise that they could've shared some info they had. Both had tough practices and weren't real confident in any particular area so to manage their time they played it close to their chest to start the event. 

"I had a limit and was culling before every boat left the dock at Lake Champlain," George said. "I just hope I catch a fish before boats are returning to the dock today."

Of course, George said it with a smile on his face, but it does seem that the Red River is a tad tougher than anglers had thought it would be. While we watched George, he caught about a 10 inch bass and it seemed he was as giddy as a kid on Christmas just to boat a bass. Now he is looking for keepers, which have to be 12 inches to be legal this week. 

Alton Jones Jr.

Anglers have been fishing on the Red River for just an hour and so far I haven't left the sight of the takeoff dock. I saw Alton Jones Jr. fishing along a stretch of stumps and debris. Little Alton,as everyone calls him, made the drive from the last Northern Open at Lake Champlain straight to the Red River to compete here this week.

Champlain was good to Jones Jr. as he finished 3rd and barely missed the opportunity to get an Elite Series invite. He is looking to keep the good mojo flowing as he fishes the final two Central Opens of the season. 

After the Arkansas River he found himself in 15th in points and in contention to get an Elite invite with two more solid events. There is still a lot of fishing to go before we will know for sure, but it seems Jones Jr. is fishing beyond his years and is making the right decisions early in his fishing career.