MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Thinking ahead has put Harvey Horne ahead of the pack in the second Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Arkansas River.
“I am doing something a little bit different than everybody else is doing because I am not seeing anybody around where I am fishing,” Horne said. “When I showed up here for practice, I was mainly looking for places where the fish were going and not where the fish were.”
The Bella Vista, Ark., angler was hoping warm weather would move into the area he was fishing so that his plan of anticipating where bass would be moving in to spawn would work. His plan worked to perfection today as he weighed in a five-bass limit of 16 pounds, 8 ounces to move into the pro division lead.
The 42-year-old, part-time bait shop employee said he had a “terrible” practice. “I came over here four or five times the last month or so and in those combined times I think I caught about five keepers,” Horne said. Today he keyed in on places where he thought bass would be moving in to spawn rather than where the fish were at the time he prefished.
Horne started in an area this morning that he found Wednesday, the final day of practice. “I rolled in there this morning and within 15 minutes I had a limit,” he said.
After catching his limit, he left the spot and decided to go to a completely new area, where he culled three fish. Horne estimated he had about 10 bites overall and caught nine keepers and one bass under the limit. He believes the fish he is targeting are bass getting ready to spawn.
“They are in that phase and looking for a place to spawn,” he said. “The water temperature is rising; we found 58- to 59-degree water today.”
Despite encountering heavy fishing pressure in his spots, Billy Smith Sr. was able to catch a 16-1 limit to move into second place. “Just about every hole I had was getting a lot of pressure,” he said. “I don’t know what it is going to do to the fish tomorrow.”
The 58-year-old electronics salesman for a gas company said he started in one of the places he did well in practice. “That wasn’t my honey hole,” he said. “I didn’t even go to my best spot today.”
The Willis, Texas, angler thinks he will have to go to his best spot to start Friday, though, because he believes his other spots “got trashed” by the fishing pressure today.
Other anglers placing in the Top 5 of the pro division are Eric Gilchrist, Plaquemine, La., third place, 15-15; Dustin Reneau, McKinney, Texas, fourth, 15-12; and Greg Vance, Dubuque, Iowa, fifth, 15-11.
Former Lake of the Ozarks guide, Walter Tucker, took over the lead in the co-angler division with a three-bass limit weighing 12-2. The 63-year-old Osceola, Mo., angler had never fished the Arkansas River before. Fortunately, he was paired with local favorite Chris Jones, who put him on some quality fish. Tuckers said he was culling 3-pounders by the end of the day. “If I had weighed my five best ones in, I would be leading the pro division,” he said.
Dustin Reneau leads in the pro division of the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award with a 5-pound, 13-ounce largemouth. The leader in the co-angler division of the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award is Colton Wood with a 5-9 largemouth.
Hosting this event is the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce. Friday’s launch, weigh-in and the final day launch will be held at the Three Forks Harbor at 5201 Three Forks Road. Saturday’s weigh-in will shift to the Bass Pro Shops at 101 Bass Pro Drive in Broken Arrow.