For the third and final stop in the 2013 Bassmaster Central Open season, the circuit visits an old but seldom visited venue: Ross Barnett Reservoir. Last visited in 1998 and the site of the 1978 Bassmaster Classic, this 33,000-acre reservoir will present the anglers with a variety of habitats and will prove to be a true test of their skill and decision-making abilities.
Ross Barnett, locally known simply as the Rez, has an average depth of 10 feet, so shallow water patterns will likely prevail, but the variety of habitat will offer the anglers plenty of options. The lake divides into three primary areas: the "main lake," "up river" and Pelahatchie Bay. Each of these areas offers anglers a different look and the only consensus among the local pros is that the tournament could be won in any of them.
The main lake area offers ledges, stump-filled flats and riprap banks along the dam and entrance to the Pelahatchie Bay area. In the 1996 Mississippi Invitational, then-rookie Mike McClelland won with a spinnerbait pattern on the shallow stump flats. But the main lake area also offers some of the deepest water on the lake, so the ledges in this area could be important this time around.
Featuring the only major feeder creek on the Rez, Pelahatchie Bay is the most heavily developed area of the lake. It has many shallow flats covered in pads, as well as numerous residential canals. For many years, most of the Florida strain bass stocked in the lake were released in this area, so it’s know for big bass during the spring like a 10 pounder caught in the 1998 Mississippi Invitational.
Anything above the Highway 43 Bridge is considered up river. Here the lake transitions from a reservoir to more of a river. Offering many backwater areas, pads, hyacinth, hydrilla and plenty of laydowns, you can expect a large portion of the field to end up in this part of the lake.
All of Ross Barnett Reservoir looks fishy, and it has something for everyone. Regardless of their fishing style, Open anglers will be able to find something they like. But despite the abundance of fishing cover, the Rez has a reputation for being a hard lake to figure out and the fish tend to change from day to day, so it will be a challenging tournament as well. Those factors should lead to it being one of the more interesting tournaments of the year.