DEL RIO, Texas — Lake Minnetonka, Minn., is nearly 2,000 miles away from Lake Amistad. Tapping into a technique on his home water was one of several keys to winning for Andy Young at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open presented by Allstate.
Here are three standout keys of the win that extend beyond his basic pattern:
Key #1: Cold weather is his friend
Unusually cold weather plagued the tournament field until the final day. That’s when more seasonal weather broke through with sunny skies and high temperatures in the low 70s.
Sleet and freezing rain greeted the anglers on Day One. The temperature struggled to make it past the freezing mark.
Anglers lamented over frozen reels, iced rod guides and any number of cold-weather nuances. Wind was an issue. It hindered boat positioning and generally made the day even more miserable.
Day Two wasn’t any better. The wind subsided some but the cold, cloudy weather made for another challenging day of fishing.
The bottom line is that you could say the cold weather was a mental distraction for many anglers.
Young is from Minnesota. This time of year he’s accustomed to enjoying a day of ice fishing in temperatures with wind chill indexes in the range of 30 below zero.
“We’re all grown men out here and used to fishing in cold weather, adverse conditions,” he said. “But it can preoccupy your mind. Mine was focused on fishing because I’m very acclimated to the cold.”
Key # 2: Packing a homegrown technique
Young spent the week before the competition becoming acclimated to the layout of Amistad, a desert impoundment on the Rio Grande River. It’s nothing like his home water of Lake Minnetonka, right?
The geographical division only runs skin deep.
“Believe it or not this lake fishes very much like Minnetonka,” he observed. “Both of them have deep rocks and we fish a lot of finesse baits when the fishing gets tough.”
It got really tough on Amistad. Young won the tournament with 39 pounds, a weight that could be doubled under normal Amistad conditions.
Young put his finesse tactics to good use. He fished a Biovex Kolt Fish Tail dropshot rig in a strike zone between 20- and 30-feet of water. Alternatively, he fished a Hog Farmer Bait Co. umbrella rig with Outkast Tackle Money Jigs.
“I connected the dots during practice when I found those fish on the rocks in deep water,” he added.
Just like home.
Key # 3: Persistence
Young shunned the cold weather and tapped into a familiar technique to set the course for the win. It also took persistence in an opportunistic field of play.
“The tough bite really leveled the playing field and that helped,” he said. “The local guys here are strong and the fish weren’t where they normally would be this time of the year.”
Young left his ice-fishing tip up rigs at home and headed to west Texas to escape the chill. It was no vacation. His scouting missions began at sunup and ended after sunset.
“I came here to win, just like everyone else,” he said. “I was just able to connect all the dots and scratch out a win.”