SHREVEPORT, La. — Aaron Johnson has a strategy that other local anglers might want to try when fishing tournaments on their home waters.
Johnson decided to skip the final day of practice for the Bass Pro Shops Central Open on the Red River and went to work instead. Even though he lives close to the river, Johnson said he limits the amount of time he spends on his home waters.
“The river is pretty rough on my equipment so I don’t come here that often unless I have a tournament,” said the 41-year-old Johnson. The sales and marketing manager from Shreveport practiced on Saturday but skipped Sunday to spend time with his family. He then resumed practicing Monday and Tuesday and found five spots that were holding bass.
His strategy of fishing the river “only when I have to” paid off Thursday as Johnson amassed a five-fish limit weighing 20 pounds, 8 ounces to take the lead in the boater division of the Open. His catch included a 7-13 largemouth that leads the Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament race.
Thursday's cloudy weather caused the fish to react differently than what Johnson discovered in practice. “I really want the sunshine but it was just out a little bit,” said Johnson, who won a Central Open in 2008 at Kentucky Lake. “The fish really weren’t setting up on the cover but I was able to figure out how to get them to bite (in the cloudy weather),” he said. “Once I got that figured out I popped them pretty good.”
A 45-mile one-way run and negotiating through the locks limited Johnson’s fishing time. The local angler estimated he had only about 3 1/2 hours to fish but he made the most of his time. He also has plenty of options available for Friday as he only hit one of his five spots on Thrusday. “I will probably bounce around a little bit more tomorrow just because I have a later flight, so I should have a lot more time to cover more areas,” he said.
Another Shreveport angler, Colby Hand, moved into second place on the pro side with a 16-2 limit. The 36-year-old construction worker said he had a “so-so” practice catching a couple of good fish here and there, but he never really established a pattern. “I didn’t make any adjustments today really,” said Hand, who ran to about five spots and caught his limit by about 9 a.m.
Rounding out the top five on the pro side are Tommy Murray of Bedford, Texas, in third place with 15-6; Larry Puckett of Decatur, Texas, fourth, 15-4; and Elite Series pro Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., fifth, 14-15.
Co-angler Logan Latuso hopes to repeat what his father Robbie Latuso, a longtime B.A.S.S. Nation angler, did back in 2009 when the elder Latuso won the non-boater division of the Central Open at Toledo Bend. The 20-year-old Latuso, who works for his dad and attends a community college, leads the non-boater division with a 3-fish limit weighing 12-5.
“I had to grind it out and had the three right bites,” Logan said.