Fishing Tips


Posted 2/12/2012

The 2012 edition of bass fishing’s world championship, the Bassmaster Classic,® won’t get started on Louisiana’s Red River near Shreveport until February 24, but all 13 of the Yamaha-sponsored anglers who qualified for the three-day tournament have had their rods, reels, and tackle boxes packed since early December.

That’s when the river went off-limits to the contestants. Many of them have fished the Red River in previous events, but most still spent a few days on the water prior to the cut-off date, re-learning how to navigate around the shifting sandbars that guard the entrances to the shallow backwater areas where most Red River events are won.

Texas angler Alton Jones not only ran the water by boat, he also spent a day flying over it in a helicopter. Jones, winner of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic® on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, will be competing in his 14th Classic®.

“Flying over the water gives you a completely different perspective of how the backwater areas actually look,” explains the Yamaha pro, who finished 14th in the 2009 Classic®, also held on the Red River. “There aren’t going to be any ‘secret places’ on the river that no one has ever found, but what I located were places I hadn’t fished before.

“When I went into these same places by boat, I was even more excited. During the 2009 Classic®, I caught 20-pounds the final day and finished 14th, so I know how strong this fishery is.”

Fellow Yamaha pro Greg Vinson made three separate visits to the Red River between October and December, and like Jones, is excited about the potential of what he saw. The Alabama angler believes the Red will fish similar to the Coosa River near his home in Alabama, which means he found plenty of places where he can flip a jig or soft plastics.

“We’re going to launch in Pool 5 where the Classic® was won in 2009,” Vinson notes, “but we can lock downriver into Pool 4 and even further down into Pool 3. Because the water is likely to be fairly cold, I believe the afternoon bite will be stronger, so I’m going to stay in Pool 5 or possibly go down to Pool 4, but I want to be fishing during the afternoon, not running back up the river.

“Last year’s Classic® was my first one,” he laughs, “and hopefully I got all the jitters and nervousness out of my system so this year I can concentrate on fishing.”

This will be Brandon Palaniuk’s second Classic® as well, but living in Idaho, he wasn’t able to come to Shreveport before the off-limits began. Not that he really needed to; the young Yamaha angler won the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship® on the Red in 2010, a win that launched his professional career. He finished fourth in last year’s Classic® in the Louisiana Delta as a rookie.

“I’m really looking forward to fishing the river again,” he says. “I watched the video of how Skeet Reese won the 2009 Classic®, and it was similar to how I fish here at home, even though I’m nearly 2,000 miles away. When I won in 2010, I fished a pattern very similar to how Skeet had fished.

“During that tournament, I stayed in Pool 5, flipping and also fishing a crankbait. I think this Classic® will be won the same way. Pool 5 is a large pool but I know a lot of the contestants will be fishing there, so my first big decision will be whether to fish it, too, or go down to Pool 4, but that’s what the official practice days are for.”

Another Texas-based pro, Todd Faircloth, remembers making a bad decision during the 2009 Classic® that may have cost him a chance at winning. The Yamaha pro was fishing the same area as the eventual winner, but because there were also a lot of others competitors around, Faircloth decided to leave, and he knows now he left too soon.

“Not a lot has changed about the river,” Faircloth says, “except that there is probably more vegetation this year, which could really help the fishing. I know winning this event certainly changes your life, and you have to take some chances about changing fishing areas. This year, however, if I think I’m in an area that has the potential to produce the winning fish, then I’ll definitely stay there regardless of how many others might also be there.”

The Yamaha pro definitely knows how to fish in a Classic® crowd. He finished third in the 2010 Classic®, staying within casting range of several other anglers en route to a third place finish. This will be his 10th appearance in the championship.

“Jigs, soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and possibly vibrating jigs will probably be the primary lures, fished around the shallow cover in the backwaters. They’re all lures I use regularly, too.”