SHREVEPORT, La. — Stephen Browning’s home water is the Arkansas River, but he might want to consider relocating to the Red River.
For the second straight year Browning has won the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Red River. In 2013, he rallied from 12th place to first on the final day, but this year he only had to climb from second place to repeat as the Open champion.
The Bassmaster Elite Series pro finished with 44 pounds, 3 ounces earning the top prize of a Nitro Z-9/Mercury 225 Pro XS valued at $40,000 and $7,765 in cash. He received the Toyota Bonus Bucks prize of $1,500 for being the highest placing eligible Toyota pro, and he also earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash award of $500.
Aaron Johnson, of Shreveport, La., also earned a Toyota Bonus Bucks prize of $1,000 for being the second-highest placing Toyota pro.
The area Browning caught all of his big fish on the final day of the tournament in 2013 proved to be the key spot for Browning this year also. The Arkansas pro started Saturday with a small limit while his co-angler partner, Keith Glasby, of Ovilla, Texas, got off to a fast start.
“Keith (who won the co-angler division) was putting it on me pretty hard and heavy, and I just kept telling myself to just breathe,” Browning said. “It was one of those deals where you have an area and a bait that you have a lot of confidence in, but if you start to scramble you are more than likely going to tank. I just kept that little plug in my hand and kept winding it around.”
Browning remained patient knowing that the sun would position his fish close to the wood cover from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “There was a magic moment of about 30 to 45 minutes when it all happened,” said Browning, who was able to cull all of the fish he had caught earlier.
On Thursday, Browning caught most of his fish on a 1/2-ounce chartreuse-and-white War Eagle spinnerbait when the wind was blowing. But when the skies turned sunny and calm on Friday and Saturday, Browning relied on the same lure (a sexy shad 3.5-inch square-bill crankbait) that made him a winner last year.
Flipping a Texas-rigged Missile Baits Tomahawk plastic worm in a lovebug color to stumps produced a second-place finish for Gerald Spohrer of Gonzales, La.
“I pretty much stuck with the same thing (all three days),” said Spohrer, who finished with 40-12. “I didn’t scramble as much today as I had been doing the last couple of days.”
The rest of the Top 5 in the pro division included Johnson, Shreveport, La., in third place with 40-2; Elite Series pro Keith Combs, Huntington, Texas, fourth, 37-11; and Chad Wiley, Pineville, La., fifth, 34-14.
Co-angler Glasby won his second Open co-angler title with 22-8 and took home a Triton 17 Pro/Yamaha F115LA rig worth $25,000.
“My bread and butter was a little Bandit Series 100 crankbait in chartreuse with a black back,” said Glasby, who also won the 2012 Open as a co-angler at Lewisville Lake. “Today I switched up fishing behind Stephen Browning who is so efficient, so I went with a little (Carolina) rig with a Senko on it.”
Catching a 7-13 largemouth earned Johnson the Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament award of $500.
The Livingston Lures Leader Award of $250 for finishing as the top pro on Day 2 was presented to Spohrer. Logan Latuso, the Day 2 leader on the co-angler side, received a Livingston Lures gift pack worth $250.
Anglers in both divisions who advance the most places up the leaderboard from Day 1 to Day 2 receive the Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award. Pro division angler Gary Clouse, of La Vergne, Tenn., collected $250 by jumping 108 places from 160th to 52nd. Co-angler Mike Robinson, of Carter, Okla., picked up $150 by climbing 127 places from 156th to 29th.
The host for the event is the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission.
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Presenting Sponsor: Allstate
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: Boat U.S., Booyah, Carhartt, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Plano, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.