Slugfest predicted at Ross Barnett for Bassmaster Central Open
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published February 23, 2018
Unseasonably warm weather in central Mississippi is creating an ideal scenario for what most excites bass fishermen, just in time for the first Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on Ross Barnett Reservoir.
"The tournament is setting up to be a slugfest and in the best of ways," said Mississippian Brock Mosley, among a contingent of 360 anglers eager to compete in the B.A.S.S. event.
The tournament begins March 1 and concludes March 3, during what should be late winter in the South. Instead, record daytime high temperatures and excess rainfall are moving big bass into shallow water. The warmer it gets, the better the bass bite.
"Rarely in February do we have 80-degree days that make it more like springtime fishing conditions right now," added Mosley, 29, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro who grew up fishing the lake. "The lake is fishing really well from end to end, and the largemouth already are in prespawn patterns."
Mosley validated his claim by referring to a recent single-day tournament whose winner caught 21 pounds. For the Open event, he predicted the winner should average 18 pounds each of the three days. A trophy bass heavier than 10 pounds is possible.
Coincidentally, 54 pounds won the last Ross Barnett Open held in March 2015. That tournament also occurred under prespawn conditions.
"Everyone will be able to choose what technique best suits their style of fishing, it's just that good right now," explained Mosley. "Plus, the lake should fish really well from end to end."
That will be good news with 180 boats set to compete on the 32,000-acre fishery. With an average depth of 12 feet, shallow-water fishing strategies will come into play.
Key main-lake areas will be narrow creek channels leading to expansive underwater flats covered in aquatic vegetation. Those areas favor prime habitat for spawning bass. A year-round population of largemouth also exists in the Pearl River, where Dustin Connell won a Bassmaster Elite Series event last April.
Another consideration is the lunar phase favorable to spawning activity. The full moon occurs onMarch 2. Mosley predicted that could jumpstart a migration of largemouth into shallow water.
"That will come down to being in the right place at the right time," he explained. "There are a lot of local anglers in the tournament who will know where to be under those conditions."
Ross Barnett had a strong connection to B.A.S.S., even before Ray Scott founded the organization 50 years ago. In 1967, Scott was rained out of a weekend fishing trip at Ross Barnett, where in his motel room he thought of a momentous idea - elevating competitive bass fishing to the level of other pro sports. That led to the founding of B.A.S.S. - which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year - in early 1968.
Scott's third-ever bass tournament occurred at Ross Barnett in 1968. A dozen events have taken place there over the decades, including the 1978 Bassmaster Classic.
This season's Opens circuit features the Central and Eastern divisions with four tournaments apiece. The season concludes with an Opens Championship that will be held Oct. 18-20 at a location yet to be announced.
The championship field will include the eight winners from the Opens tournaments. Joining them will be the Top 10 anglers in the point standings from each division. The 28 competitors will fish for invitations to the 2019 Elite Series and Classic.
Takeoff time is 6:15 a.m. from Madison Landing/Pelican Cove Restaurant with weigh-ins beginning at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. The Day 3 championship weigh-in begins at 3:15 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in the Jackson suburb of Pearl.