Kimura takes first-round lead in Bassmaster Open tournament on the Red River
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published June 15, 2018
Japanese angler Kenta Kimura has a good problem to have at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open underway on the Red River.
Kimura leads the tournament with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 4 ounces. His challenge is finding more bass for the next two days of the competition.
"I think I caught all the bass in my area, early this morning," said Kimura, of Osaka. "Tomorrow I will start all over again."
Starting all over again is not a bad place to be, given the tough fishing conditions thus far. Some anglers came to the scales with only a single bass weighing in the ounces. Others were more fortunate.
Second-place angler Larry Puckett of Decatur, Texas, had 12-4, followed by Eric Gilchrist of Plaquemine, La., with 11-11. Craig Schuff, of Springtown, Texas, and fellow Texan Brad Whatley of Bivins, are sitting in fourth and fifth with 11-4.
Gilchrist's catch included the biggest bass of the day, a 4-9 largemouth that will win the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award if no one catches a heavier fish by tournament's end on Saturday.
Hugh Rose of Davis, Okla., leads the co-angler division with a three-bass limit weighing 7-3. Cody Miller of Livingston, Texas, holds down second with 7 pounds, and Justin Estay of Larose, La., is third with 5-15.
The predicted tough fishing conditions became real on Thursday.
Kimura noted that his bite ended at 9 a.m., and he spent the remainder of the day in the hunt for new areas. He came up short but is in contention to qualify for the championship round on Saturday when the field is narrowed to the Top 12 anglers.
Competing are 146 pros from 16 states and Japan, along with their co-angler partners. The pros have tough decisions to make, including whether or not to make long boat runs to escape the crowds and fishing pressure.
Tournament waters are pools 5, 4 and 3 of the Red River. Competitors launch from the lower stretch of Pool 5, which is just south of Shreveport and Bossier City. From there to the end of Pool 3 is a round trip travel time of about 4 hours.
The nail-biter is the additional time required for passing through two locks, both ways, for even less fishing time. Even so, about 50 boats made the trip despite the limited fishing time.
Puckett chose to stay put and make the most of his time in a single area.
"I spent about 80 percent of the day in the same spot," he said. "I feel good about the potential because I got up to 15 bites a day there during practice."
Puckett admitted that fishing rocky shorelines played a key role in the success of his pattern.
Choosing to make the long run into Pool 3 was Whatley, who caught his first keeper of the day in Pool 5 while en route to the first of the two locks. The trip into Pool 3 produced only one keeper.
"I'm going to sleep on it tonight, but I doubt that I'll make that run again," he said. "The weights are too low to gamble on the lost time needed to be fishing instead of running."
The Opens feature the Central and Eastern divisions with four tournaments apiece. Only one Central Open remains on the schedule, in September on Logan Martin Lake in Alabama.
The eight winners from the Opens tournaments advance to the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Championship. So do the Top 10 anglers in point standings from each division. The 28 competitors will fish for invitations to the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods. The championship is Oct. 18-20, on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.
On Saturday the top pro angler wins a Skeeter ZX200 with trailer and rigged with Yamaha VF200LA. A Minn Kota Fortrex, Lowrance Elite Ti 7 and other factory accessories are included.
The winning co-angler receives a Triton 179 TrX powered by a Mercury 115 ELPT, a trailer and standard factory accessories.
Takeoff time is 6 a.m. from Red River South Resort and Marina with weigh-in beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday the championship weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. Location is Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World located at the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City.
Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, Red River Waterway Commission and the Horseshoe Casino are hosting the event.