MONROE, La. — This week, Nov. 5-7, anglers from all over the world will gather in Monroe to compete on the Ouachita River for the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
“We are very excited to be back on the Ouachita again this year,” said Jon Stewart, director of the B.A.S.S. Nation, “and we expect it to be a nail-biter just like it was last fall.”
In November 2014, Paul Mueller came from behind to win with a five-bass limit that was bigger than any other bag for the whole tournament. His victory earned him a berth in the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, as well as a spot in the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series.
Mueller will be back on the Ouachita this week to defend his championship title and to compete for a spot in the upcoming Classic.
Mueller learned to be consistent on the Ouachita River last year despite heavy water level fluctuation that left other competitors struggling. This year, it could be more of the same. Many anglers will likely be headed for the bayous, according to Nick LaDart, a graduate of the University of Louisiana-Monroe who frequently fishes the river.
“There will still be a few fish left on the main river, but I don’t think you can win with them because usually they are a lot smaller,” LaDart said. “If the water rises a little bit before the tournament, it will definitely push a lot of shad back in those pockets.”
The bass will be shallow around laydowns and cypress trees in the early morning and then move out to deeper cover later in the day, LaDart added. “I have caught them in a couple of inches of water and then, when the sun comes up, they tend to spread out a little bit more,” LaDart said.
Mueller will compete against 58 other anglers, who are representing 47 states and one Canadian province, plus Japan, South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Australia. In addition, Jack Barber will represent the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). The PVA sends its Angler of the Year to the BNC each year, and this is Barber’s first year to qualify.
The overall winner of the championship will earn a berth in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on Oklahoma's Grand Lake. Joining the champ at the Classic will be the top contender from each of the other five divisions. Six divisions make up the B.A.S.S. Nation: Western, Central, Northern, Southern, Eastern and Mid-Atlantic. You can see who’s competing in this photo gallery.
Competition begins Thursday, Nov. 5, and concludes Saturday, Nov. 7. Launches will take place daily at 6:15 a.m. CT at Forsythe Park Boat Launch, 140 Forsythe Ave., Monroe, LA 71201. Weigh-ins will be held at Forsythe Park daily beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT, and they will be streamed live on Bassmaster.com.