MONROE, La. – After day two of the EverStart Championship on the Ouachita River a clearer picture is starting to develop of just how this expansive waterway is fishing right now.
For starters, the stumpy backwater plan has pretty much fizzled. Those hoping to ride “tin-cans” to victory lane have beat the area known as “aluminum alley” to death.
The two main arteries, the Ouachita River itself and the D’Arbonne Creek that flows through the D’Arbonne NWR have become the primary fish producers for the top contenders on the leader board.
Though there is negligible current flow in these tributaries, the top pros are finding ways to make the fish bite in places where current normally is present.
Another interesting development was a 14-pound, 7-ounce limit – by far the biggest of the tournament – weighed in by pro Brandon Medlock who caught just one bass yesterday and rocketed into 14th place today.
Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., who was in second yesterday, jumped into the lead thanks to a 9-pound, 2-ounce limit today which puts him at 21 pounds, 7 ounces total.
Kreiger is no stranger to EverStart competition. He has four EverStart wins to his credit, including a previous EverStart Championship.
“For some reason I tend to do better in these tough tournaments where 7 or 8 pounds a day is something to write home about,” Kreiger said. “I had a feeling this tournament would end up that way, despite all the stories I heard about big limits, so I just planned on fishing for 9 or 10 pounds a day.”
Kreiger has tapped the main Ouachita River for his catch. And while he has a specific type of cover he is looking for, his bait selection changes by the hour.
“I’m fishing about 50 spots a day, but that includes the places I am revisiting during the day,” the RMC Boatworks pro said. “It’s not really junk fishing. I have specific places I’m fishing, but my bait selection is all over the place. It seems like each time I tie on something new, I get a bite or two on it immediately, then it fades away and I have to go to something else. I think these fish need to see something different each time I revisit a spot so I’m rotating through a lot of lures.”
Day one leader James Stricklin, Jr., of Texarkana, Texas, fell to second place today with a four-bass catch for 6 pounds, 12 ounces, which gives him a two-day total of 19 pounds, 9 ounces.
Stricklin is also fishing the main tributaries of the Ouachita River as well as the main creek located in the D’Arbonne NWR. Things tightened up on him in D’Arbonne today where he caught just one keeper and then he salvaged his day out on the main river with three other keepers.
“If there was any current in the system, I think things would get a lot better,” Stricklin commented. “But with no current it really toughens things up. I’ve been throwing a reaction bait to get bites, but I’ve lost some on it, too, because they just kind of snap at it and don’t really eat it. If some wind or clouds or something would come in, it might make the fish bite better. But as long as it is bright, slick and sunny with no current, they just kind of wander around and don’t really set up on anything.”
Larry Jones of Acworth, Ga., is in third place with a two-day total of 17 pounds, 12 ounces.
Jones, too, is fishing the main Ouachita River, targeting current breaks.
“I’ve found a few little places that have enough current on them to really stack the fish up,” Jones said. “The only problem is they’re all small. Yesterday I was able to cull up with a couple of better fish, but today there was no size. I caught a limit pretty quick but just couldn’t upgrade.”
Jones added that his primary technique is finesse fishing with worms in the current breaks.
Lance Williams of Billings, Mo., gets the unofficial award for consistency, sacking up 8 pounds, 12 ounces on day one and 8 pounds, 14 ounces today for a two-day total of 17 pounds, 10 ounces.
Williams, too, is on the main river.
“I’ve found one two-mile stretch of the river that just seems to be alive,” Williams said. “The water color there is a little different. There’s a lot of shad and fish activity along that stretch. At times I’ve even noticed a little current along a couple of places.”
“I’m just cranking an old crankbait they don’t even make anymore,” he added. “It’s my river rat crankbait. It’s always produced in rivers for me and so far it’s working here.
Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., rounds out the top five with a two-day total of 17 pounds, 8 ounces.
Dodson, too, is on the main river running as many spot as possible.
“It seems like every time I stop on a new place I catch one,” Dodson said. “If I fish there a while I can’t catch another one. So I’m on the first-stop pattern: stop, make a couple of casts, then move on.”
Paul Ferguson of White House, Texas caught the big bass in the Pro Division on day two weighing 4 pounds, 10 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series Championship on the Ouachita River after day two:
6th: George Kapiton of Inverness, Fla., two-day total of 17-6
7th: Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., two-day total of 17-0
8th: Bill Chapman of Salt Rock, W.V., two-day total of 16-12
9th: Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., two-day total of 16-10
10th: Adrian Smiley of Bossier City, La., two-day total of 16-7
Spinks leads co-anglers
Tony Spinks of Springfield, Mo., moved into the lead of the Co-angler Division of the EverStart Championship with a two-day total of 14 pounds, 9 ounces.
“Yesterday, I caught my fish on a War Eagle spinnerbait while fishing with Cody Bird,” Spinks said. “Today I fished with Larry Jones and lost a few on a Sweet Beaver. So I switched back to the spinnerbait and caught my two best fish.”
Audie Brantley of N. Augusta, S.C., is in second place with a two-day total of 14 pounds, even.
Daniel Leue of Colusa, Calif., is in third place with a two-day total of 14 pounds, even.
Chad McClendon of North Richland Hills, Texas, is in fourth place with a two-day total of 12 pounds, 7 ounces and Tony Prince of Pulaski, Tenn., rounds out the top five co-anglers with 12 pounds, 5 ounces.
Vince Denina of Willis, Texas, caught the big bass in the Co-angler Division on day two weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers in the EverStart Series Championship on the Ouachita River after day two:
6th: Ronald G. Robbs of Ironton, Mo., two-day total of 12-5
7th: Justin Sward of Birmingham, Ala., two-day total of 12-3
8th: Vince Denina of Willis, Texas, two-day total of 12-1
9th: Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss., two-day total of 11-11
10th: Joe Ventrello of Orlando, Fla., two-day total of 11-6