No place like home

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Knowing those tight little places to flip his lures into made the difference for Dale Hightower Thursday at the Bass Pro Shops Central Open on the Arkansas River.

The Mannford, Okla.,  angler lives about an hour from the river, so he relied on his knowledge of the waters to catch a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds, 2 ounces and take the lead in the pro division. 

Hightower would make a couple of flips to certain trees and catch a keeper and then move on to the next target. “That is just home field advantage, knowing where those little key spots are,” said Hightower, who qualified for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic through the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

“There is so much pressure on the river and a lot of us are fishing the same stuff,” Hightower said. “You just have to do something a little bit different and put that bait in a little bit different spot where you don’t think everybody else has hit.

“The day started out pretty well. I had four by 8:15 and caught a lot of fish. I didn’t have that good of a practice. It was kind of hit and miss and I wasn’t sure what I had. I knew where some fish were and kind of laid off of them. I went out Sunday and I didn’t even have a keeper. It was discouraging so I definitely knew what not to do.”

Staying off his better spots in practice paid off for Hightower as he caught 12 keepers Thursday. “I didn’t stay and burn up the same fish Thursday so I am happy about that. Hopefully I got something left in the bank for Friday."

Despite breaking down and having to hitch a ride from fellow angler Mark Tyler to get his fish to the weigh-in on time, Trevor Romans finished in second place with a 14-09 limit. “Other than the boat problems my day went pretty well,” said Romans. “I had a limit in about three hours and then kind of backed off my fish.”

The Plano, Texas angler was able to fish for about five hours and then on his way back his motor lost power and he had to have it towed back by the BoatUS tow service.

Rounding out the top five on the pro side are Mark Goines, Shady Point, Okla., third, 14-2; Stephen Mitchell, Rinehart, La., fourth, 13-13; and Dennis Tietje, Roanoke, La., fifth, 13-11.

Hulbert, Okla., angler John Thomas leads the co-angler division with three fish weighing 9-13.  “We had a better day than I expected,” he said. “We caught quite a few fish. I had five or six keepers on the day.”  Thomas caught all of his fish flipping to wood.

The Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting this event.  Friday’s launch, weigh-in and the final day launch will be held at the Three Forks Harbor, 5201 Three Forks Road. The final day weigh-in will move to the Bass Pro Shops at 101 Bass Pro Drive, in Broken Arrow, Okla.