Spohrer sprints to first at Red River

A change in his practice methods for the Bass Pro Shops Central Open on the Red River is paying off for Gerald Spohrer.

SHREVEPORT, La.  A change in his practice methods for the Bass Pro Shops Central Open on the Red River is paying off for Gerald Spohrer.

Last year the Gonzalez, La., angler ran the banks in practice and tried to make a milk run of spots during the tournament. However he found crowds on most of those spots and eventually finished 49th in the Open. This year Spohrer looked for more offshore targets in practice, a strategy that has him leading the pro division with 28 pounds, 14 ounces.

“I spent my whole practice fishing stuff where I thought the tournament would be won,” he said. “I know this river very well and I have a lot of experience here. I gambled and found some sweet spots that were holding some big ones.” Whenever he got a bite in practice he marked a waypoint in the oxbows he was fishing, and each competition day he has keyed on those waypoints.

The change in weather from clouds and wind yesterday to sunshine and a light breeze today made it easier for the 32-year-old Spohrer to work his area. “I had a problem with the wind yesterday,” said Spohrer, who had a 13-5 limit the first day. “It was blowing about 25 mph out of the south and I was fishing the northern end of an oxbow.”

The rough water made it difficult to see the stumps he was trying to target, but Friday he was able to locate the stumps easier and caught a heavier limit (15-9) while flipping to the wood cover. “The sun is positioning the fish on the stumps,” Spohrer said. Both days he spends a couple of hours fishing the stump field to catch bigger fish and then moves to other spots to complete his limit.

“Tomorrow I might just stay in that area all day,” Spohrer said.

Defending Open champion Stephen Browning barely made the Top 12 cut last year but is sitting in second place with 28-8 this time. The Bassmaster Elite Series pro said he is doing the same thing as he did the final day of last year’s event. However he has a crowd with him this time. “I had a lot of company today but it is what it is,” he said. “You can’t claim the whole pond. I just kept my head down and kept fishing.”

The rest of the top five in the pro division are Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., in third place with 27-8; first-day leader Aaron Johnson, Shreveport, La., fourth, 27-7; and Tommy Murray, Bedford, Texas, fifth, 26-0.

Co-angler Logan Latuso kept his lead by catching a small limit to give him a two-day total of 17 pounds. The Louisiana angler failed to catch a fish until 12:30 p.m. and finally completed his limit by about 2 o’clock. “I was able to fish about the same stuff today, but I had to really slow down today because it was a lot tougher bite,” he said.

Hosting this open is the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. Saturday's launch will be held at the Red River South Marina, 200 Red River South Marina Drive, Bossier City, La.. The weigh-in will move to the Bass Pro Shops, 100 Bass Pro Drive, in Bossier City, and will begin at 3:30 p.m. CDST.