Central Opens: Lake Amistad

DEL RIO, Texas -- The bass are biting so well at Lake Amistad that even a week of windy practice days hasn't dampened the spirits of the 202 pros entered in this week's Bassmaster Central Division Open on the massive 67,000-acre Rio Grande River impoundment.

 "Even with the wind, conditions are as close to perfect as we could hope for," noted well-known Louisiana pro Homer Humphreys, who had 30 bites on Tuesday, including one from a nine-pounder he boated. "You can catch fish from three feet out to 20 feet, and use any technique you want to, and you'll catch fish."

 At least one 10-pounder has been reported in the past week, and with bass moving closer to their spawning beds each day, Humphreys expects several double-digit bass to be weighed in during the event. He won't be surprised to see 25-pound catches, either, and thinks a minimum of 16 pounds per day will be needed to qualify for Saturday's final round, which will be limited to the top 30 anglers.

 Amistad produced two bass over 13 pounds this past February, but both were caught in water deeper than most pros will be fishing this week, and in years past the lake has produced fish weighing more than 15 pounds. During the Bassmaster Elite tournament here in 2006, pros Dave Wolak and Edwin Evers both fished for a bass they estimated might easily weigh more than 15 pounds.

 Water temperatures are currently in the 57 to 61 degree range, the lake is full, and the water is extremely clear. Although many Amistad bass will nest in shallow water, a lot of others will actually spawn on deeper rock shelves 12 to 15 feet deep.

 "Because the fish are all over the lake, the sight-fishermen will probably do well but they won't have a distinct advantage," continued Humphreys. "I know a lot of fishermen are using swim baits, but others are working crankbaits, Texas rigs, Senkos, and even Carolina rigs, and everybody is catching fish.

 There are a lot of two to three-pounders out there now, too, but those fish won't win the tournament. The problem is deciding what to do if that's the size you are catching. Do you move and try a different spot, or stay and hope for a big bass, because right now you're liable to catch a seven or eight pounder on any cast.

 "I talked to one fisherman who told me he'd caught at least one seven-pounder each day he's been practicing," added the Louisiana veteran. "You don't have opportunities like that in very many tournaments, but it's definitely possible this week."

 Surprisingly, Amistad also offers very good smallmouth fishing, especially up the Devils River arm where the water is generally cooler. Humphreys doesn't expect smallmouth to play much of a part in this tournament, however, because of the size of the largemouth being caught.

 Other pros were a little less optimistic, especially since many are fishing Zorro, Tule, and Caballo Canyons on the Mexican side of the lake. They're among Amistad's best-known fishing areas, but getting to them requires a long run through open water. Extremely high winds would make such runs a very questionable option.

 Long range forecasts call for extremely windy conditions Wednesday, the final practice day, and for temperatures a fall later as a storm front moves across Texas. Winds are also predicted to moderate slightly after the front passes through the region on Thursday and temperatures to gradually get warmer by the weekend.

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