Fish-off Decides Bassmaster Winner On Toledo Bend
The Bassmaster Central Open held out of Cypress Bend on Toledo Bend last week proved to be a logistical nightmare for the pro anglers that produced a winner only after a half day tie-breaking shootout on Sunday. The first day of the event was cancelled due to a blistering south wind that threatened the safety of the anglers.
That move changed the game plan for the entire field as the elimination format was reduced to a two-day slug fest. The conditions were not a much better the next two days, but the pros still fished from one end of the lake to the other. When the last bass was weighed, James Niggemeyer and Jerrel Pringle were tied for first place with 37-pound 14-ounce totals.
Everyone at the final weigh-in assumed that Pringle had the tie-breaker with his big second day total, but tournament director, Chris Bowes, quickly announced that the only place that isn’t settled that way is first place. The two anglers went head to head Sunday morning for 3 1/2 hours with two totally different game plans.
Pringle seemed to have the advantage as he was fishing stained water on the north end targeting bass spawning around stump filled drains. Niggemeyer, on the other hand, hung his hat on bedding fish on the south end and he knew the cloud cover Sunday morning was going to make sight fishing even tougher.
The young pro from Van, Texas was unable to spot the fish he had left on beds the day before and raced back to the landing with five bass that weighed only 14-pounds 1-ounce. He was certain that he had lost the shootout until Pringle produced only three bass that weighed 7-pounds 8-ounces. The Hemphill pro said his water was dirtier than expected, his big fish had moved, and he wished that he had stuck with smaller fish he had located closer to the weigh-in site.
Pringle’s biggest concern prior to blast off Sunday morning was that a local might be fishing his spot when he arrived thinking the tournament was over. That did not happen, but as Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story!”
Major bass tournaments on Rayburn and Toledo Bend afford local anglers the opportunity to not only gawk at colorfully wrapped high performance bass boats and their high-profile owners, but the opportunity to actually watch them fish as well.
Some folks are content to just follow their bassin’ heroes during the tournament from a distance, while others simply look up to discover the pros have invaded the same water they fish year round. They take notice, but for the most part, they simply try to avoid them and continue fishing while making the best of the added pressure on their fishing hole.
I will not mention names to protect the innocent, but at least one pro may have lost the tournament before it ever started. I received an email Friday night from a very excited angler that has a camp on the south end of the lake. When the tournament fishermen did not show up Thursday (canceled due to wind) he and his neighbor decided to ease over to a protected shoreline in Clear Creek and see what one of the pros had been checking out two days in a row.
“At first we didn’t see them, but there were two beds with big bass on them,” reported my emailer. “We didn’t think they would bite, but they jumped on a black-blue lizard as soon as it hit the bed. I caught the first one and I let my neighbor catch the second one.”
One of the bass weighed 8.4- pounds and the other weighed 7.8-pounds and both were released in good shape as soon as they weighed them. The problem for the pro that returned the following day was that they weighed them at their camp and released them at the end of their dock!
They both credited the visiting pro as being darned good at finding fish in a little ol’ cove in Clear Creek that they never fished because in their words, “It was too shallow and stumpy.” Sometimes advertisement sells and sometimes it just draws a crowd.