SHREVEPORT, La. — Pro angler Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part, La., doesn’t expect to have much time to scout the Red River before the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open, hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, April 25-27. But that may not be as bad as it sounds.
“I’ll be shooting from the hip, but I enjoy that,” said Crochet, explaining why that may work to his benefit. “A lot of times in a tournament, you keep thinking, ‘This is what happened in practice,’ and you base your decisions in the tournament on that. You’re playing on what happened two or three days ago instead of what’s really going on. Sometimes that burns you. If you don’t have that practice, you just react to what you see, and that’s the best way to fish.”
Crochet is currently competing in the Ramada Quest Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas, which precludes time for practice early next week. But he’s looking forward to returning to his home state of Louisiana to fish the Open.
“It always puts a smile on my face when I get to fish a B.A.S.S. tournament in Louisiana,” Crochet said.
He predicts the average daily limit of five fish will weigh 9 to 11 pounds, while some anglers will bring in 14- to 18-pound bags from the Red River.
“It’ll be a good tournament,” Crochet said. “The biggest deal I’m looking at is water temperature. The water temperature should be 60 or above, so that will mean most any [pattern and technique] will play. It should be a spawn/postspawn situation.”
Having checked out the 10-day forecast, Crochet hopes weather projections hold with temperatures in the 70s and a chance of rain on Saturday, the final day. If the water temperature drops to the 50s, he said it will definitely drive the field away from the main river.
Crochet believes warmer water opens up more options for anglers.
“Everybody goes into the backwaters, but if you can find those fish coming out into the main river, you’ve got a good chance of not having as many [boats] around you.”
The Louisiana pro also hopes the storms this week in Arkansas won’t lead to high water on the Red.
“If the water starts moving fast, that’s going to hurt the river bank,” he said. “If it’s a natural water flow, and we don’t see cold fronts or anything dramatic, the fishing should be in decent shape. I just don’t know how much of this water is going to get to Shreveport.”
Crochet, whose home fishery is the Atchafalaya Basin of southern Louisiana, says he manages to fish the Red at least 10 times a year, and he prefers spring conditions over those of the fall.
“I like fishing those backwaters in the springtime when the fish set up where they should be,” Crochet said. “If the water’s up, the key is going to be to find the cleaner water. If you find the clean water, you find the fish.”
According to Crochet, there’s a “wild card” aspect to the Red River where, over time, timber has been felled, leaving behind stumps that pose a hazard to boats and motors.
“This is a river that is going through changes, but since it’s been fished for Classics twice and in several Opens, most of its secrets are out,” Crochet said. “We may see a couple of new pockets come out and show. Somebody’s gonna catch ’em next week.”
Other Elite Series pros competing next week include: Josh Bertrand of Arizona, Stephen Browning of Arkansas, Keith Combs of Texas, Michael Iaconelli of New Jersey, Billy McCaghren of Arkansas, Jame Niggemeyer of Texas, Keith Poche of Alabama, Pete Ponds of Mississippi, Clark Reehm of Louisiana, Scott Rook of Arkansas, Kevin Short of Arkansas and Dennis Tietje of Louisiana..
The winning pro angler will take home the champion’s trophy, $10,000 and a Triton boat and Mercury motor combo. The winning co-angler earns a Skeeter/Yamaha rig.
Pro anglers and co-anglers will launch each day at 6:30 a.m. CT from Red River South Marina, Hwy. 71 S., 250 Red River South Marina Rd., Bossier City, LA 71112.
Weigh-ins on Thursday and Friday will be held at the Red River South Marina. The final weigh-in on Saturday will be held at Bass Pro Shops, 100 Bass Pro Drive, Bossier City, LA 71112.