Mike Pedroza has never hunted at the duck blind he fished today on the Red River, but he said he might try it sometime.
“I might buy that duck blind,” said Pedroza, who weighed in a 17-pound, 1-ounce bag to jump from 20th place into the lead on Day 2 at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open. The local angler tops the pro division with 29 pounds, 2 ounces. He has a history winning some local tournaments on the river and has finished fifth and eighth in previous Bassmaster events on the Red.
“I have a lot of local knowledge here and that helps,” said Pedroza.
Pedroza hopes that knowledge will help him shake his nervous feelings now that he is leading the tournament. “I am shaking so much I can barely talk,” he said. “My voice is cracking, and I am just excited. It’s an honor to do this.”
The day started slowly for Pedroza, who guides part time on the river with veteran pro Homer Humphreys Jr.
“It was a grind for us. With the cloudy conditions, it puts the bite off on the Red River,” said Pedroza. “I caught a couple of big fish early and just kept grinding it out in fishing that same area. Yesterday we had about 25 bites, but today we had only about 10 or 15.”
With only three keepers in the boat, Pedroza decided to change locations in the afternoon.
“When the sun popped out at about 2 o’clock, I moved to another location — a duck blind — and caught two off of that to complete my limit. I came back there at about 4 o’clock and caught my biggest fish [a 5-pounder],” Pedroza said.
“That last fish was just a gift. I was just kind of bumping the duck blind and turned around to talk to my partner. When I looked back, my line was just moving out so I set the hook, and I was just hanging on then.”
After landing the fish he noticed his hook was bent out.
Illinois pro Chad Morgenthaler thought about skipping the tournament since he was leading the point standings in the Bassmaster Southern Opens.
“I was a little skeptical about even coming here because I really wanted to focus all of my attention on Logan Martin [the next Southern Open event] and making the Bassmaster Elites,” he said.
Morgenthaler is glad he showed up now as he weighed in 15-5 today and jumped from 25th place to second with 27-1.
“I have one small area that I have been giving it for all it’s worth,” he said. “When the sun popped out for about an hour, that is what saved me. I changed up the way I was fishing three or four different times today. When I would change up, I would catch a few, then I would change up and catch a few more. But then this afternoon I decided to quit fishing like a sissy and fish like a man and get after it with a big fish bait.”
The switch paid off as Morgenthaler caught four quality fish to up his limit from 6 to 15 pounds.
Other pros in the Top 5 include Randall Tharp of Alabama in third place with 26-15; Justin Lucas of Alabama, fourth, 26-8; and Pete Daniels of Louisiana, fifth, 25-13.
Ernest Smoak of Keatchie, La., continues to lead the co-angler division with a total weight of 17-7. He three fish weighing 7-14 today, but lost a 3-pounder.
“I don’t know if that put a curse on me or what, but I couldn’t get another fish to bite after that,” he said.
Smoak said on Saturday, he plans on catching his fish with the “Smoak Dog Drag,” a technique he will tell everyone about after the final weigh-in.
Hosting the event is the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. The final day launch on Saturday will be held at the Red River South Marina on Hwy. 71 S., 250 Red River South Marina Rd. The final day weigh-in will move to the Bass Pro Shops at 100 Bass Pro Drive, in Bossier City and will begin at 3:30 p.m. CST.
Image courtesy Bassmaster