LA CROSSE, Wis. — Wes Logan of Springville, Ala., found a falling Mississippi River presenting a very different scenario than he saw in practice. But adjusting to the conditions allowed him to catch a five-bass limit of 16 pounds, 10 ounces to lead Day 1 of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open.
“I was just blessed today; I wasn’t on anything, but I’d get a bite and it would be a 3-pounder,” he said.
With the river dropping significantly since the weekend, Logan said he struggled to find consistency. Doing so required him to leverage the flow — without much company.
“I got here on Saturday and started practicing, and I think it’s dropped 3 1/2 feet since Saturday,” he said. “Obviously, it’s the Mississippi River, so you catch them on a frog, but most of those places are dry ground now.
“This really screwed up my plan from practice, so I just went on a whim. I think I figured something out, but I think it’s more that I got into an area without a lot of boat pressure. When the water fell, there are only so many places they’re going to get on and those places are getting pounded.”
Logan said he’s looking for the hardest current he can find. Moving water always bodes well for bass anglers, but the extremely swift areas, he said, delivered the biggest bites.
“I only had seven bites, but it seems to me that you got better quality bites,” Logan said. “Tomorrow, I could get two or three bites. But if I get one, I think it will be a better-quality fish.”
Efficiency and proper presentation can be challenging when fishing heavy current, but Logan made sure he was properly prepared for a day of water resistance.
“The key is a good trolling motor battery,” he said. “I took an extra one for my Minn Kota Ultrex and switched it over about 1 o’clock. At home on the Coosa River, sometimes you can drift with it, but here it’s way too hard to float with it because you’re flying too fast.
“You have to go against it and most people’s batteries have been done by 11-12 o’clock, and then you’re dead in the water.”
Logan said he caught fish on reaction baits and plastics. Neither option outperformed the other, but Logan noted that he determined a color preference.
“If the bait just happens to flow in front of a fish’s face, he’ll bite it,” he said. “I fished five places and got one of my keepers per spot.”
Kenta Kimura of Livingston, Texas, is in second place with 15-1. He said he started out fishing the same types of banks most of the field is targeting. But his day came together quickly once he figured out a key adjustment.
“About 10 o’clock, I moved a little farther off the bank,” Kimura said. “I think because the water level dropped, the bigger ones moved offshore. I know what I have to do tomorrow.”
Kimura said he caught his fish on a mix of swimbaits, Texas-rigged worms and a 3/8-ounce jig with a chunk trailer.
Kazuki Kitajama of Orlando, Fla., is in third place with 14-15. He said he dealt with the changing water level by staying in Pool 8 and picking apart the area he knew.
“I caught my fish on a frog over grass in an area with a little bit of current,” he said. “I caught fish all day; I got about 10 keepers.”
Kimura is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with a 5-8.
Howard Lee of Brooklyn Park, Minn., leads the co-angler division with 9-12. He caught all of his fish on the hand-tied swim jigs he makes. Lee used a variety of trailers and fished banks with grass.
“When we got into areas of current, smallies will sit in or near that current,” he said. “Slow, lift, slow was the best retrieve.”
Thaddaeus Vettrus of Chippewa Falls, Wis., holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 4-4.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6 a.m. CT at Veterans Freedom Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 2 p.m.
The event is hosted by Explorelacrosse.com.