OUTDOOR CORNER: Could another record be broken?

Lyle Johnson

The FLW Tour opened its season on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Florida. Much of the speculation in the two weeks prior to the tournament focused on “things coming together.”

The weather was getting line, meaning the temperature of the water was slowly rising which would cause the females to head to spawning grounds and the moon phase would encourage nesting as well. If everything would just line up like it might, hang on to your saddle and prepare for the ride.

Well, it happened. Conditions couldn’t have been any better and a slugfest began on Thursday and giant bags of bass paraded across the weigh-in stage as one weight record after another crumbled. When the dust settled so and Brandon McMillan came from behind for a $125,000 win with a total of 106-10 pounds of Florida bass.

The very same thing could happen at this years’ Bassmaster Classic launching out of Bayou Segnette State Park.

We’ve had a very cold winter and that has kept water temperatures rather cold and spawning activity has not really started like some of our milder winters.

Local anglers are chomping at the bit and are a little impatient but this just might turn into a record setting Classic as well. The weights won’t be as big as the Florida tournament but the 3 day format of the Bassmaster event could eclipse the current total of 55-10 caught by Davy Hite in the 1999 Classic. Guess where; right here!

Anglers will have to average 18-9 for three days to eclipse Hite’s record and that well within reach during the month of February. Really nice stringers of bass are being caught on a regular basis and things should only get better for next week’s competition. Let’s take a look at some of the hot spots the Classic anglers will be fishing.

Venice; This spot has literally been on fire since November, giving up hefty stringers between 16 and 20 pounds pretty regular. The Mississippi is not predicted to rise anytime soon, so nothing should change which means many of the competitors will be making the long ride from Bayou Segnette State Park.

There are a few risks involved. The wind blows more in February than in August, so the already time consuming ride coupled with a fuel stop could take away valuable fishing time. The tide is an issue as well; you have to hit it moving one way or the other. The window of opportunity is small but the rewards can be great. Mike Iaconelli won in 2003 in Venice with a total of 37-14.

Delacroix/Caernarvon; Not quite as long a ride as Venice , but this run includes a set of locks at Empire to get to the east side of the river. A few recent tournaments have been won with 16 to 18 pound bags. There should be a little more time to fish here, but the locks could pose quite a delay if you hit it at the wrong time.

Bayou Black; This area is about a 70 minute ride and has been productive all year long. Kevin VanDam won the 2001 Classic here in the Orange Grove area with 32-5. The prospect of catching three big bags in a row is not as good as some of the other spots. KVD will probably check out this area well.

Lake Des Allemands; Last year, a couple of 10 pounders were caught in this area and it should set up well during this Classic. This is not nearly as long a boat ride as the other spots, so it affords more fishing time. Although Davey Hite is not fishing the Classic this year, in 1999 the record for the Classic was set here. This area should figure into the competition highly.

Lake Catouatchie; This spot might well be the sleeping giant that is waking up just in time. At least three 10 pounders were caught there and untold numbers of 4, 5 and 6 pounders were hauled aboard hundreds of boats time after time. Many of our local tournaments were won there as well.

Only a five minute run from the launch, this spot seems like a no brainer as far as fishing time is concerned. The down side is that this lake might fish somewhat small, but that doesn’t seem to bother the fish at all.

Next week we’ll take a look at “Who” might be the favorites to sack enough bass in three days to take the $500,000 top prize. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you.