The Red River Classic

Red River 21 pound limit

The Bassmaster Classic is shaping up to be a slugfest with big bass and large total weights. The Shreveport / Bossier area in Louisiana has had a very mild winter, and water temperatures have remained in the low to mid 50’s. Rain fall in the region has made the river high and muddy; however, this is a good thing for Classic anglers that can adapt.

For the last couple weeks, the Red River has been high enough to close several of the public ramps in the area, this is due to safety concerns with launching a boat straight into the Red River. Along with being above normal this brings higher currents as well making launching and loading a boat a little more dangerous especially for inexperienced anglers or boaters. That said, the launch for the Classic, Red River South Marina, will remain open. It is located in the Port Lake Oxbow; current and high water are not an issue. Bonus to this launch location, it’s great fishing just an idle away. For those that will travel the river, high water presents two problems, first being the floating debris. The only thing you can do is be smart and keep your eyes open. The second is the levees, should the water get high, some of the levees will be difficult to see and they will do serious damage to a boat or lower unit. The people in charge of river levels (Corp of Engineers along with input from the Red River Waterway Commission) are doing their best to keep the river as low as possible to prevent these issues.

Back to the fishing!! With the world’s best anglers on the Red River at a time when the water temperatures have male bass thinking about female bass, there is no telling how many scale busting bass will come to the weigh-in stage at the Century Link in Bossier City. That said, here are some things I do know.

The last 4 years, the Red River, has produced several double digit weighing bass in the winter to early spring. The mild winter we’ve been having in the region has kept our water warm. We are experiencing a front as I type this that will drop the temperatures to right at the 50 degree mark. This is a good thing for the Classic anglers; it’s slowed down the spawn. Some of the area lakes have already seen spawning activity. The river generally runs a little cooler than our lakes; however, the oxbows of the rivers are usually only a week or so behind the lakes. Basically, because our lakes were ready, this meant if the weather were to have held out, we would be seeing spawning activity on the Red River already, and that would have been bad news for the Classic.

The local forecast is for the middle sixties for highs and lows only reaching into the 40’s. This will cause a significant warming trend in the back waters of the Red River. The bass that had already pulled up to spawning grounds before this current front more than likely had pulled back to the drains and ditches throughout the river. What’s shaping up to happen is, those bass, along with a new wave of bass thinking about spawning will collide and create a massive movement to the shallows. With the Classic just 10 days away, this couldn’t have timed any better. There will be large numbers of fat bass shallow for the picking.

Now I’m not going to pretend to guess who’s going to win this Bassmaster Classic on the Red River, nor am I going to pretend that I understand bass movements and can present bait choices to them like the Professionals of our sport. However, what I can say is if I were fishing the Red River the same weekend, I’d bring just four rods. One to throw a swim jig, one for an Indiana bladed spinnerbait, one for tossing around a square bill crank bait, and finally a heavy jig for punching through vegetation just in case another front blows in. I suspect bass will be found in all stages of the spawn.

Because of the high water, the red mud of the Red River will be pushing up in the oxbows. This will drop visibility to a mere couple inches. Again this is a great thing for the Classic Competitors. The muddy water allows you to work the spawning grounds without spooking as many bass. This also tends to put the bass very close to the stumps or cover they are using, allowing and angler to dial in each cast.

The Anglers in the Classic are in for a special treat at this year’s classic. Pending a catastrophic weather front, I have a gut feeling that there will be some records falling in this year’s classic. I’m hoping to see several quality fish capping off stringers that might reach the 25 pound mark. Now this isn’t going to be the average by any means; however, if an angler gets 4 bass reaching four to five pounds and a double digit bass to go with it, we’re looking as some impressive numbers. For a single angler to do this three days in a row might be pretty tough, yet I’m still hoping to see a total winning weight over 60 pounds. I do fully expect to see several 20 pound stringers come to the scales, it’s just that time of the year for the Red River. The angler that pulls out the win is going to be the one that finds an area that they replenish throughout the day. The last time the Classic was here, we all know Skeet Reese took home the big trophy. He was sitting in a staging area and simply caught quality bass as they moved from the deeper waters to the spawning grounds, it was a long grind, but it worked for him. I believe this year, there will be plenty of quality fish already shallow and anglers will find their selves in the middle of a bass fishing slugfest; or at least I hope so.

For the latest information on the Red River, please check out the Ultimate Bass Forums as the members regularly post up to date fishing reports and water conditions. Louisiana Bass Fishing Reports

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Mike Cork
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