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Amistad bass still hibernating

Competitors are finding out a quick rise in the water level and unusually cold weather is putting a double whammy on the bass fishing at Lake Amistad.

DEL RIO, Texas — Competitors preparing for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open presented by Allstate are finding out a quick rise in the water level and unusually cold weather are putting a double whammy on the bass fishing at Lake Amistad. The tournament is scheduled for Feb. 6-8.

The 67,000-acre reservoir got down to a low of 61 feet at the end of May and early June of last year due to dry weather and rose about 26 feet throughout the fall and winter.

“We had some decent rains through October, and the lake came up 15 feet in a fairly short time frame. That appears to have had a crazy effect on the fishing,” said Kurt Dove, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro who also guides on the lake. “It has been very tough over the last three or four months since we had that influx of water.”

Retired Elite Series pro Denny Brauer describes the fishing on his home waters as “absolutely horrible” and predicts the majority of the Central Open field will struggle.

“The bite has been off for more than six months,” Brauer said. “It has really gotten extremely tough over the last few weeks. I have never seen anything even comparable to this.”

The cold weather has caused the water temperature to dip into the upper 40s some mornings, but Dove noted the temperature most days has remained steady at 50 to 52 degrees.

“Just like most of the country, it has been a little bit chillier down here,” Dove said. “Generally this time of year we really start to see some prespawn movement, but I feel like the fish are still fairly deep and in their winter patterns.”

Brauer said Amistad still has the potential to produce some heavyweight bags despite the wintry conditions the anglers are encountering this week.

“Normally this lake has excellent fishing in the wintertime even in the nasty weather, but for some reason it is not happening very well right now,” he said.

The former Bassmaster Classic champ noted it usually takes 50 to 55 pounds to win a three-day tournament at Amistad this time of the year.

“This lake has a lot of big fish in it and if you pull up on the right spot and hit a school that halfway turns on for a little bit, you can get real healed in a hurry,” he said. “However, you can just as easily not get a bite all day long.”

With Amistad bass still holding in deep water, Dove foresees more slow fishing during the Open. He predicts the winning weight for this event will be around 36 to 38 pounds.

“I think it will be a very tough week, and catching keepers is going to be at a premium,” he said. “We will see a couple of fairly high teen sacks. Someone is going to catch a 16- , 17-, or 18-pound sack, but I think it is going to be hard to duplicate just because it is very hard to find groupings of fish. However, when you put 200 of the best regional anglers with several national pros on the lake, someone is going to find them, and they are going to be holding them up on stage.”

Anglers will take off each day at 7:30 a.m. local time from Diablo East Marina, U.S. 90 West, Del Rio, Texas 78840. Weigh-ins will be held each day at the same location beginning at 3:30 p.m. The host organization for the tournament is Bass Pro Shops.