Louisiana waters will play host to two Bassmaster Central Open Series events in the next month — potentially providing two more anglers with the opportunity to compete in the Classic next year on Lake Conroe in Texas.
The first event will be on the Red River this week starting on Thursday, while the third and final Central Open - originally scheduled for February but cancelled because of high water - will be held Oct. 27-29 in the Atchafalaya Basin.
“To fish these next two tournaments, it’s almost like an old school team tournament,” Bassmaster Elite Series pro Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part said.
Crochet failed to qualify for the 2017 Bassmaster Classic through the Elite Series, so these final Central Opens are his only avenue to the Super Bowl of fishing.
“For me, there’s really nothing involved except for winning,” he said. “It’s kind of refreshing.”
The pro field is dominated by Louisiana anglers — many of the competitors’ names aren’t well-known outside the region, but Crochet said he’s familiar with them.
“There’s 60 or 70 people from Louisiana fishing the Central Opens (on the pro side),” Crochet said. “Some of them I’ve been fishing against for years. They aren’t slouches.”
The floods in March, and then again in August, have created an unfamiliar playing field on the Red, even for the Louisiana residents entered in the anticipated 182-boat field pairing pros and co-anglers.
“It’s different because of the floods,” Crochet said. “The river has a new personality.”
Now with the Elite Series and Northern Opens concluded, and the Southern Opens division long over, the focus of the Bassmaster tournament world falls on Louisiana.
Anglers will take off each day at 7 a.m. at the Red River South Marina. Weigh-ins will be held at 3 p.m. at the Red River South Marina the first two days, with the final weigh-in on Saturday taking place at the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City at 4 p.m.