Ponds ready for final Central Open

RIDGELAND, Miss. — Pete Ponds of Madison, Miss., once would have had a serious home lake advantage fishing Ross Barnett Reservoir. But the Bassmaster Elite Series pro says he will begin next week’s Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open, Oct. 17-19, on equal footing with the rest of the field of competitors.

“I was basically raised fishing Ross Barnett, and it’s a thrill for B.A.S.S. to come here, but I don’t ever get to fish it since I started fishing professionally,” Ponds said. “I’m not able to fish even once a month — I used to fish it three or four days a week back in the day.”

“Back in the day” was before Ponds began fishing the eight-tournament Elite Series, which keeps him on the road much of the year. The season ended in late August with the final regular season tournament on Lake St. Clair in Michigan.

Despite being away from his home fishery for too long, Ponds believes “the Rez” will fish well for anglers. “Back in the day,” it was not unusual for Ponds to catch 75 fish in a day on the 30,000-acre lake.

“As long as we don’t have any hurricanes or bad weather, I think the fishing should be good,” Ponds said. “I think it’s going to take 15 pounds a day to win the tournament. I think this one is going to be won in the main lake, fishing ledges, or fishing vegetation above U.S. Hwy. 43. I like to fish the main lake.”

Ponds said the fishery is at normal pool, and overall, “the lake will show pretty well.”

“I have been fishing a little lately, and the fish aren’t as large as I would like, but I don’t think anyone is ever happy with the fish size,” Ponds said. “I think this is going to be an interesting tournament, and a lot will depend on whether we have cold fronts or hurricanes coming through.”

Ponds finished 47th in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings this year, well outside of the cut to make the 2014 Bassmaster Classic based on ranking. Because B.A.S.S. awards an invitation to fish the Classic to anglers who fish all three Opens in a division and who win one of them, the Ross Barnett tournament could be his best shot at competing in the championship on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville in February.

For Ponds, it will be as much a homecoming as a competition. It’s the lake he grew up fishing, where he taught his son, Justin, to fish and where he’s hoping to spend some time this month fishing with his grandson, Gaige, 11.

“It’s a great lake to get started on,” Ponds said. “There are lots of hybrid, striped bass on Ross Barnett that are easy to catch and a good way to teach fishing.”

The Central Open is the last 2013 event in the three-region, nine-event Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series. Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. CT each day from Madison Marina, 115 Madison Landing Circle, Ridgeland, MS 39157. The weigh-ins on Thursday and Friday also will be held at 3 p.m. CT at Madison Marina. The Day 3 weigh-in will be held at 3:45 p.m. CT at Bass Pro Shops, 100 Bass Pro Drive, Pearl, MS 39208.