Fishermen have learned that just because you’re fishing for bass around here, doesn’t mean you’ll always catch a bass. (Josh Bensema)
Two hundred boats take off Thursday morning at 6am as the Bassmaster Open Central #2 Tournament begins and runs through Saturday. The Orange Boat Ramp is the site for the takeoff and weigh-in as well as a daily festival that includes food, a carnival, and live music. Daily weigh-ins begin at 3pm.
There will be two fishermen per boat with a professional fisherman and a co-angler. Those pairings were made at Wednesday’s registration for Day One. The pros will get a different co-angler for Friday with the Top 12 from each division fishing with each other on Saturday. The festival is free for spectators but it’s not free for the fishermen. The pro’s pay $1500 to fish and the co-angler’s pay $425.
He talked to KOGT after pre-fishing this week. “The area looks good,” he said. “It’s healthy, and the water is high.”
We’ve heard some of the fishermen say it’s too healthy. “Yes well you look at aerial photos and see a spot that may be good and when you get there it’s choked off by vegetation and you can’t get to it. That’s disappointing. But fish love the grass and vegetation so we’ll catch fish. It’s just finding the bigger ones”
Finding them was tough for you the first two times here. “Yes this place has been a thorn in my side. I was 85th one time and 67th another. So I’m going to try some other areas. It’s also a different time of year. When we were here before it was in March.”
This tournament is different from the Elites because you’ll have another fisherman in the boat. “Yeh it’s a different dynamic having that second rod in your boat fishing for the same fish. But you know it can also be a positive. Sometimes you can put your heads together to improve your bite.”
Bertrand is from Gilbert, Arizona. There are fishermen from 20 different states as well as Mexico and Japan. Bertrand has brought home a check in 30 of the 55 Elite Tournaments he has fished in, with two Classics under his belt. Winning the Open would give him an automatic ticket to next year’s Classic.
The other six guys who have been here in 2013 and 2015 are Mike McClelland, who is certainly a favorite with a second and eleventh place finish. Also Rick Clunn (72, 71), Hunter Shryock (60, 62), Tommy Biffle (28, 84), James Elam (70, 17), and Jeff Kreit (47, 7).
The area pro’s fishing include T-Roy Broussard, Jonathan Simon, Trey Smith, Mike Brown, Corey Stanley, Carl Svebek, Teddy Cloide, John Dickerson, Marshall Hughes, and Bryan Trahan.
The area co-anglers include Darren Bell, Jason Burge, Sam Creel, Jordan Downs, Rusty Harvey, Donovan Henderson, Randy Hicks, Joseph LaFleur, Tyler Netterville, Robert Parks, Alvin Perry, and Michael Solis.