Part 1: Chad Brauer’s Secret Place on the Red River
Editor’s Note: Chad Brauer of Osage Beach, Missouri, recently won the Bass Pro Shops’ Bassmaster Central Open on the Red River near Shreveport, Louisiana, taking home a check for $47,000. This win was great for Brauer, who took time off from professional fishing to work on a fishing television show. But Brauer has proven that he’s back with a vengeance. This week, we’ll look at how, like most Strike King pros, Brauer has bounce-back ability.
Question: Chad, what did you know about the Red River before you arrived?
Brauer: I’d fished six tournaments prior to this one on the Red River, so I was fairly familiar with this body of water. Also, in reviewing the tournaments won there, one consistent factor always turned-up. The winners generally found an area to fish where no one else fished. On the Red River, finding that secret place is fairly difficult, especially in a tournament like the Central Open, with 290 boats competing.
Question: Was this your first tournament back into professional fishing?
Brauer: No, it wasn’t. I fished a couple of tournaments last fall. I fished in the FLW Tour and a Bass Open tournament before this one.
Question: How was practice?
Brauer: I found an oxbow lake off the beaten path, north of Shreveport, on the north side of the river. I noticed that I saw fewer contestants in this section of the river, because not much water was up there to fish. I found this area the last time I fished at Shreveport. But at that time, the Red River was flooded, which meant I could get in and out of the oxbows, without any problem. However, this year, the river was 10- to 12-feet lower than it was the last time I fished it and found this oxbow.
So, the first day of practice, I spent almost all day fighting my way to navigate the creek that went into this hidden oxbow. I thought there’d be fewer people going into this oxbow than other parts of the river. I felt that if I could find bass there, this oxbow probably would be a place that few, if any, other fishermen would be fishing. Too, I knew I should have a chance to finish well. I spent 5 hours fighting my way into this creek, but finally, I learned how to navigate the creek to get back into this oxbow.
Trying to get into the entrance of this creek, I got stuck on sandbars twice, and the second time I got stuck, it took me about 2 hours to get unstuck. Once I finally got into the creek and got over some of the trees blocking the creek, I reached the oxbow, fished 4 hours and got 11-bass bites. I shook all the bass off. From my history on the Red River, I knew that I’d found a concentration of bass.
Although after that first day, I stayed out of that oxbow and searched for other places to fish, I didn’t locate any other spots holding quality numbers of bass. I decided to bet the tournament on that one oxbow. The only worry was that the water on the Red River was falling very quickly. Between Tuesday, the first day I practiced, and Thursday, the first day of the tournament, the water in that oxbow dropped nearly 4 feet. So, getting into the oxbow would be difficult.
Question: On what lures did you get those 11 bites?
Brauer: I was flipping a Strike King Rodent and cranking a Strike King 4S, a square-billed crankbait.
Question: What colors did you use on these two baits?
Brauer: The Rodent was black-blue flake, and the 4S was chartreuse with a black back.
Question: Why did you pick these two Strike King lures to fish this tournament?
Brauer: In falling-water conditions, the bass generally will pull out of the cover and suspend around deeper-water cover, especially on a river system. The 4S is a productive lure to run through that 2-foot-deep water, which is about the depth in which there was offshore cover. The bass were holding in 2 feet of water over a 4- to a 6-foot bottom. I chose the Rodent because at this time of year, the bass are usually feeding on baitfish. The Rodent was the right size and profile for the bait on which the bass were feeding. I was flipping the Rodent on 25-pound-test fluorocarbon line with a 3/8-ounce Tru Tungsten sinker.
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