Just like I’ve done hundreds of times before, I’m headed out for a tournament today. But since I sold the Phoenix and the new one’s not ready yet, I’ll be fishing out of a buddy’s boat this week for the first B.A.S.S. Central Open of the year at the Red River in Shreveport. I had to borrow a boat for Douglas Lake but this time I’ll be running a 19 foot Xpress aluminum boat.
Normally, I’d really hesitate to run this type of boat. After all, it’s hard to adjust to the smaller tackle and rod storage and it’s smaller than most of the boats I’ve run in competition before. The organization, speed and comfort of the Phoenix has really spoiled me and I’m having some serious withdrawal symptoms. But in this case, I’m really happy to have a boat to fish out of at all and at the Red River, the Xpress might even be a real advantage.
For those of you who haven’t been to the Red, it’s a shallow water minefield, filled with stumps and rock jetties. Like most navigable river systems, there are also hundreds of backwater areas; that you often can’t get one of our normal tournament rigs into. I’m looking forward to not only seeing some new areas and getting into a couple of places that in previous trips, I could only dream about getting the Phoenix into.
The restricted tackle storage could even work to my advantage. Several of us have discussed the fact that we all (and myself in particular) carry way too much tackle in the boat with us. Since space is limited, I’ll have to really think hard about what to take and what to leave behind. I’ll also be more committed to using what I have and not swapping lures all day without really giving one a true test. It should make for an interesting experiment into what’s really necessary and what’s just extra weight in the boat.
I’ve already cleared the first hurdle by narrowing down the number of rods I’m taking along. Normally, I’d just load up both rod boxes and use what I need, but since nothing over 7 foot will fit in the rod boxes, I’ve narrowed it down to 16 rods in the truck. During practice, I’ll have to narrow that down to 5 or 6 but that shouldn’t be too hard to do. It’s a pretty rare event for me to have more than that strapped down on the deck. Most of the others just sit in the rod box like a high priced security blanket.
Overall, I’m looking forward to getting there. I’m spending Saturday and Sunday at an event at the Gonzales, LA Cabela’s and then it’s on to Shreveport. I’ve always enjoyed the Red River and have had a fair amount of success there in the past. Maybe the Xpress will let me get into one of those out of the way spots that will have the winning fish. I certainly hope so.
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Denali Rods, Bryan’s Marine, BoatUS Angler, Power Pole, Costa del Mar Sunglasses and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.