RICHMOND, Va. — Ed Loughran doesn't necessarily consider himself a "cerebral" angler. He says he's more of a "grinder" whose work ethic has helped him collect a check in 13 of the 25 B.A.S.S. tournaments he's fished dating back to 1993.
Still, Loughran is sharp enough to know he needs a really good showing at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open No. 2 if he wants to fulfill his dream to join the Bassmaster Elite Series one day.
The second Northern Open of the 2017 season is scheduled for Aug. 3-5 on the James River in Virginia. And if Loughran's estimation is correct, he'll need to make the cut to 12 anglers to keep hope alive that he can fish with the Elites in 2018.
"I've got a formula that's pretty much held true," he said. "If you add up where you finish in the three Open events, whether it's in the northern, southern or central, the number can't be bigger than 75 or you have almost no chance (of making the Elites)."
Loughran finished 55th in the first Northern Open of the season on Oneida Lake in late June, so he has his work cut out for him.
Loughran lives in Mechanicsville, Va., approximately 30 minutes from Osborn Park in Henrico, Va., where the nearly 160 professional anglers competing in the Northern Open No. 2 will launch, and he has a long history on the river dating back to when he was a student some 25 years ago at the University of Richmond.
He said the Open tournament should produce results similar to others held on the James in recent years. He expects bags to be on the light side, with fish caught around visible structure in less than 6 feet of water.
"It's summer fishing," he said. "That means it probably will be difficult. The water temperature has been in the low 90s and the water probably will be high. Plus, there's going to be a lot of pressure on the fish. I think the cut (for the Top 12) could be around 23 or 24 pounds, maybe a pound or two higher. But I think you're going to see a lot of 7-, 8- and 9-pound limits. The guy who catches a big fish or two in that limit is going to be in it on the final day."
Loughran pointed to a recent one-day tournament on the James when the winning angler caught 16 pounds, but one of the bass was an 8-pounder. Another angler caught 13 pounds, but also had an 8-pound kicker.
"It probably won't be that drastic, but someone who catches a 5 1/2 and a 3 1/2 and rounds out a limit with some 2-pounders is going to be tough to beat," he said.
Loughran expects many anglers to head to the Chickahominy River, a tributary of the James, as they have in recent tournaments here. Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley won last year's Northern Open with a strong showing — a three-day total of 41 pounds, 13 ounces — in the Chickahominy.
Takeoff will begin at 6 a.m. ET from the Osborne Park and Boat Landing, 9530 Osborne Turnpike in Henrico, Va. Weigh-in the first two days will begin at 2 p.m. back at the park.
The final weigh-in will begin at 3:15 p.m. at the nearby Bass Pro Shops, 11550 Lakeridge Parkway in Ashland, Va.
The winning pro will earn cash and a Skeeter/Yamaha boat and motor package valued at approximately $50,000, as well as a shot in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods (provided he fishes in each of the three Northern Opens this year.)
More than 160 co-anglers are scheduled to compete in the tournament, as well. The co-angler winner will receive a Triton/Mercury boat and motor package.
The event is hosted by Visit Richmond.