Johnson leads Central Open on Red River

Shreveport angler weighs in 20 1/2 pounds.

Shreveport’s Aaron Johnson made the most of his home-field advantage yesterday to grab the first-day lead in the Bassmaster Central Open being held this weekend at the Red River with a five-fish limit weigh-in in at 20 pounds, 8 ounces.

And that’s despite not hitting the water on the final day of practice. The sales and marketing manager practiced on Saturday but skipped Sunday to spend time with his family. He then resumed practicing Monday and Tuesday and found five spots that were holding bass. Instead of practicing on Wednesday, Johnson went to work.

“The river is pretty rough on my equipment, so I don’t come here that often unless I have a tournament,” the 41-year-old Johnson said.  Johnson’s limit included a 7-pound, 13-ounce kicker.

Fellow Shreveport angler Cody Hand went into the second day of competition in second with 16-2, while Texas’ Tommy Murray moved into third with 15-6. Larry Puckett of Texas claimed the fourth slot with 15-4, and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Stephen Browning of Arkansas rounded out the top 5 with 14-5.

Johnson said he had to adjust during the first round of the tournament because yesterday’s cloudy weather caused the fish to react differently than during in practice.

“I really wanted the sunshine, but it was just out a little bit,” said Johnson, who won a Central Open in 2008 at Kentucky Lake. “The fish really weren’t setting up on the cover, but I was able to figure out how to get them to bite (in the cloudy weather).

“Once I got that figured out, I popped them pretty good.”

A 45-mile one-way run and lock negotiation limited Johnson’s fishing time. He estimated he had only about 3 1/2 hours to fish, but he made the most of his time. He also said he had plenty of options available today, since he only hit one of his five spots yesterday.

“I will probably bounce around a little bit more tomorrow just because I have a later flight, so I should have a lot more time to cover more areas,” he said.

Co-angler Logan Latuso was in position to what his father Robbie Latuso, a longtime B.A.S.S. Nation angler, did back in 2009 when the elder Latuso won the non-boater division of the Central Open at Toledo Bend. The 20-year-old Latuso led the non-boater division after the opening round with a three-fish limit weighing 12-5.

“I had to grind it out and had the three right bites,” Logan said.

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