As we launched from the ramps for the first morning of pre-fishing, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of honor and pride to have been given this opportunity, to have reached this point. What an incredible feeling to be fishing with all of the best Angler’s from colleges around the country.
As soon as we got on the water and opened up the Yamaha, we started flying down the river, and this feeling of honor and pride quickly turned to excitement and a level of energy that I haven’t felt during any other tournament thus far in my career.
Trying to crack the code in practice
This is the toughest body of water that many of us college Angler’s have ever fished. I had done some bank fishing at the Red River about a year prior, so I knew it was going to be a challenge. But, I don’t think any of us realized how challenging it would truly prove to be.
I don’t think any of us realized how challenging Red River would truly prove to be.
Boats spread across this body of water and crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and flipping baits were being thrown everywhere to try to find some fish.
My OSU fishing partner, Mason Dejarnette, and I were determined to find some fish that nobody else was fishing for to give us the best chance of a good bag come tournament days. We were fishing pads in the backs of pockets, behind wing dams, and up creek channels. Honing in on colors. Trying to match the crawfish and baitfish. Trying to do all the experimenting we could with different baits and different locations.
It was literally mud.
The water color was rough. It was literally mud. I guess that’s why they call it the Red River. The current flow was low because they hadn’t seen much rain, so they weren’t letting a lot of water through.
The Red River was a very tough nut to crack. Everyone was catching a lot of Drum, but the Bass were proving to be more difficult to pattern. We caught a few fish during pre-fish, nothing great. But we knew there were fish in our areas.
We planned to be in the right areas at the right time come tournament days.
Derby Day 1
For the first day of the tournament, we were fishing right under the spillway. We returned to fish there and caught one. That was our only fish for the day. We ran all over after that catch, but just couldn’t find where the fish were staging.
We were working the pads, working the grass. Trying to find the oxygen rich areas where we were most likely to catch fish.
You could say we covered some distance. We traveled over 370 miles during practice and on tournament days. 120 miles during the first day of the tournament alone. Thank Goodness Mason’s old Yamaha engine held in there. After running 120 miles for 2 lost fish and 2 keepers boated that weighed a whopping 5 pounds and 4 ounces, we were left wondering what to do the next day. With the weight we had, we were just below the middle of the pack. But we knew that there were plenty of fish in that area, so we decided to go back to our spots for the second day of the tournament.
Feeling the Red River blues while throwing Spinnerbaits.
The basic FLW College Fishing rules:
- You are allowed to weigh in your biggest five keepers per day.
- For the National Championships, it is a three day tournament.
- To qualify for the third day of fishing, your cumulative bag had to be in the Top 10 out of the 173 Teams that attended the event.
- The biggest cumulative bag weight after the three tournament days wins. A “Keeper” had to be over 12 inches long.
It might sound easy to some to catch 5 keepers, to others, it may sound more difficult. Well, I can tell you that on the Red River, it was no walk in the park. As I said before, we are fishing with some of the best collegiate anglers in the country, and many teams struggled to fill their 5 fish limit. It was truly a grind for the #grindsquad!
Alex meets Mr. FLW and gets invite to tour Vexus headquarters
While I was struggling to hook up on the water, Alex had the fortune of meeting Mr. FLW himself, Forrest L. Wood. Alex said they had a nice chat. Forrest even invited him to Vexus headquarters, his latest boat venture. We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to visit the HQ of Vexus and we will certainly keep you all posted on that front! Maybe if we’re really lucky we can figure out how to get an Vexus for the tour? (Who doesn’t like to dream?)
Stepping off the boat after derby day 2
Even though we knew we were not carrying the winning bag as we walked toward the weigh-in stage after day 2, we were still proud of the fish we had caught. The Red River proved to be a real challenge. But, we tackled it head on and did everything we could to find success. We caught one good one, and we worked hard for that fish! We felt confident that the fish might have cooperated better the second time we checked over our primary spots, but it just didn’t go the way we had hoped. To use a famous line, “That’s just fishing”.
“There’s always something you can do better.” Hindsight will always be 20/20, so being able to look back now and see how the teams who finished in the Top 10 caught there fish is tough, but also very beneficial. It allows us to see what they did differently, how they broke down their areas compared to how we broke down ours. It allows us to learn, which is by far the most important aspect of competitive fishing.
What I liked about this trip to Louisiana
It wasn’t all bad. Not by any means.
FLW hosted a fantastic event and the people of Shreveport were incredibly kind and generous!
Chillin’ in a lock. That was new and interesting. First time I’ve done that. For those who don’t know, a lock is part of a dam on a river system that allows boats and barges to travel down the body of water and get through a dam.
As always, it was awesome to see some fellow fishing buddies from around the country while we were there!
Another highlight was taking on 20 lbs of Cajun Crawfish and splitting it between 5 guys with a few beers to wash it down. This might have been the highlight of the trip. This is an experience you have to put on your bucket list!
On the road again…
Well, we’re done with Red River and we’re done with the sweltering LA heat.
On the to do list: We have some major amounts of laundry to catch up on and need to get some rest after this long tourney week!
Up next we are stoked to do some fishing with a couple stallions by the names of James Elam and Eric Faucett.