The last Central Open of the year was a study in spinnerbaits and plastics, time management, fish management and nerves. For the second time this year in the same division, two anglers — this time it was Edwin Evers and Mark Smith — tied for first place, making a fourth day on the water necessary.
(1st place — 50 pounds)
"I started on Thursday with fish located, but when I started catching them they were all little," says the Talala, Okla., resident and Elite Series pro. "There were several other boats in the area. They were having the same problem. I didn't have much time so I decided to move to another spot and give it a try."The reason Evers didn't have any time was because he'd traveled over 100 miles — one way — to get to where he was fishing."It was a long run that cut down my fishing time, but you have to do what makes sense. I didn't have anything else going, so that was my only option.
"I don't want to say where my spot was located (he's saving it for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic), but I will tell you it was in a canal — 8 feet deep — near an undercut bank. There were weeds growing around the area, and in some places hyacinth mats had blown over against the bank. I fished that general area all four days."
Evers fished the edges of the weeds and mats early in the mornings with a Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Spinnerbait — 1/4 ounce, chartreuse, white and blue, with tandem willow leaf blades (gold and silver). When that bite cooled, usually after an hour or so, he switched to Texas rigged plastics."I used two approaches with my plastics. When I needed to punch the mats I went with a Yum Money Craw in river craw with a 1-ounce Bass Pro Shops XPS Tungsten Worm Weight and a straight shank 4/0 hook.If I was fishing around the edges, or in the scattered weeds, I tossed a Yum Craw Papi in black blue shadow with a 3/16-ounce XPS Tungsten Worm Weight and the same style straight shank hook."Evers fished his spinnerbait on a 7-foot, medium-heavy Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier rod, a Pro Qualifier reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) and 20-pound-test XPS Fluorocarbon Line.He fished his Craw Papi with a 7-foot, heavy action Pro Qualifier rod, an old (and out of production) Pro Qualifier reel (5:1 gear ratio) and 50-pound-test Bass Pro Shops Magibraid Line. His Yum Money craw was handled by a 7-foot, 6-inch, medium-heavy action Pro Qualifier rod, the same model Pro Qualifier reel and 65-pound-test Magibraid."If there's a lesson here it's that competitive fishing is about catching more weight than the other guys. Too many anglers forget that. I caught a lot of bass at my first stop, but they were too small. So I took a gamble and moved."It paid off. I was able to catch a sack that weighed 14 pounds, 7 ounces on Sunday to win this one. However, even if it hadn't worked out, moving was the right thing to do. I'm not out there to catch bass. I'm out there to catch the winning weight."
(2nd place — 46 pounds, 1 ounce)
"I ran out of fish. That's all there is to it," says Smith while on his way home to West Monroe, La. "I had a nice pattern going in the cypress trees about an hour and a half from the launch, but I fished it pretty hard the first three days. You'll notice I only brought three keepers in on Saturday."His cypress pattern consisted of clumps of trees in 1 to 3 feet of water. On the first day his bass were holding in the middle trees; on the second day they were 2 or 3 feet away from the tree roots in the deeper water; on Saturday they'd moved into the really shallow water back toward the bank."
Smith alternated a spinnerbait — a 1/2-ounce, chartreuse and white Mr. Hooty (Old River Lure Co.) with small tandem blades designed to match the size of the forage — with plastics for most of the event.His plastic bait was a 4 1/2-inch, black neon Strike King tube, weighted with a 1/4-ounce Tru-Tungsten Worm Weight and armed with a 4/0 Gamakatsu Worm Hook.He chose a 6-foot, 6-inch All Star rod, a Shimano Curado reel (5.3:1 gear ratio) and 17-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon line for his spinnerbait. He threw his Strike King tube with a 6-foot, 10-inch Falcon Cara rod, a Shimano Curado reel (6:1 gear ratio) and 20-pound-test XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon line.
"The lesson I learned this week is that I need to manage my fish better. I caught at least two limits from the same area on Thursday trying to push my weight up a little higher. I should have saved those fish for another day. If I'd done that I might have won this thing on Saturday. I only needed one more fish, you know."
(3rd place — 32 pounds)
I did the best I could with what I found," says Crochet, a local, and very talented, angler from Pierre Part, La. "I found some bass under mats. My water wasn't really clear, but it was clearer than anything else I could locate, and it was fairly close to the ramp. A long run to somewhere else that might not be any better didn't make any sense to me."
Crochet caught most of his bass after the first day by punching mats with a green pumpkin Yum Flavor-Enhanced CrawBug, weighted with a 1 3/4-ounce Penetrater Tungsten Weight and a 4/0 BMF Flipping Hook from Reaction Innovations.He fished his rig with a Powell 800 SBREH 8-foot Swimbait Rod and a Shimano Curado reel — "one of the old green ones" — spooled with 100-pound-test PowerPro Braid.This was a tough tournament for me. I really wanted to do better on my home water. But, I qualified for the Elite Series next year and I'll be fishing the 2010 Bassmaster Classic. There's no way I can complain about my season. This is great, absolutely wonderful. I'm really excited about the future."