With 10 grand on the line, Brent Bonadona decided to make a grand move Saturday on what is unfamiliar water for a devoted Atchafalaya Basin bass angler.
Like the other 100 fishermen in the 15th annual Pro Bass Challenge, Bonadona, in the Pro Division, was thrown for a loop when water in the places he’d scouted in the Verret Basin, the stretch of lakes, bayous and canals on the eastern side of the Atchafalaya’s East Guide Levee, turned muddy after a sudden cold front blew through south Louisiana early Friday morning. Spring floodwaters made his favorite spot, the Atchafalaya Spillway, unfishable.
It was his midmorning decision to change lures and fishing technique that paid off for a 14.95-pound catch that put him into the lead going into Sunday’s final round.
“I scouted this area in practice and found fish, but it wasn’t happening in the first hours,” Bonadona said. “I decided on a game-changer about 10:30 (a.m.). I knew I had to do something to make them bite.”
It’s a matter of course for bass fishermen to say a little as possible about their tactics. Jeff McMorris, at 13.82 pounds and second to Bonadona, had the big bass, a solid-6.3 pounder, got away from that scrpit.
He said he stayed on the “east” side, and that the high barometric pressure and north winds combined to put the clamps on the bass he’d found earlier in the week. McMorris had only four keepers to weigh, one shy of a tournament limit, and said his lunker hit a plastic frog.
“I caught one other fish on the frog and another on a crankbait,” McMorris said. “It was a very tough day.”
Chris Waguespack (12.71 pounds) and Travis Warthen (11.29) were the only other anglers with double-digit stringers, and both said they relied on pitching soft-plastic baits in Lake Verret for Waguespack and, for Warthen, “a 40-minute run up country ... and I flipped Mr. Twister plastics for my five fish.”
LSU team angler Zach Remedies, a junior from Many, holds the lead in the Co-Angler Division with a 9.01 total. Tim Barbey, the division’s big-bass leader at 4.39 pounds, and Patrick Rachel were tied for second place at 7.23 pounds.
The final weigh-in is set for 4 p.m. at Albertson’s on the corner of Coursey Boulevard at Jones Creek Road.