DEL RIO, Texas – The inaugural Wal-Mart FLW Series East-West Fish-Off undoubtedly offers anglers a unique format. For starters, victory on Lake Amistad only requires defeating a single angler. At the same time, only one of the 30 victors will cash a check. However, as far as the anglers are concerned, the most intriguing aspect of the tournament is the fact that the legendary Amistad giants appear to be missing in action.
For the past three years, the renowned Rio Grande impoundment has been one of the best bass fisheries in the country, if not the best. But recently it has come back to reality. In all likelihood, there will be few, if any, catches in the 30-pound range. That’s not to say the fishing won’t be good. For some perspective, slow on Amistad translates into roughly a five-bass limit that weighs around 20 pounds. Just last week at the Stren Series Southeast Division event on Lake Seminole, it took only 45 pounds over four days to win the tournament – so tough is all about perspective.
The one thing that is definitely in the anglers’ favor this week is the lack of fishing pressure. With only 60 boats on a 67,000-acre pond, everyone will be able to spread out nicely and find their own fish. Whether or not those fish will bite is a different story.
Pro Derek Remitz, who won the BASS Elite Series event on Amistad last year, said he had two good days of practice and two slow days. One of his good days included two 8-pounders and a 9-pounder.
“Overall, the weights are down on the lake,” said the North Branch, Minn., native. “The fish are still there, but they have received a lot more pressure.”
Remitz says he thinks, in an average bracket, 60 pounds over three days should be enough to advance to the Forrest Wood Cup. When Remitz won on Amistad last year, the tournament was held approximately one month later, and a good portion of the fish were shallow.
“Right now, the fish are in a pretty solid winter pattern; there is a strong deep bite.”
When Remitz says deep, he means it. Several pros are fishing in water up to 60 feet deep, with 40 to 50 feet being common. To catch fish at those depths, most anglers are dragging football-head jigs, Texas-rigged worms and drop-shots.
The wildcard in this tournament just might be a late-developing shallow-water bite. Although it looks a little premature, a shallow pocket in the back of a creek just might heat up enough to attract females with spawning on their mind. For that to happen though, the current water temperatures would have to rise several degrees.
“There’s one spot that I know is always a little bit warmer,” Remitz added. “I’m eager to check it out.”
Today’s forecast calls for blustery weather with winds gusting up to 25 mph. With the exception of Tuesday, the official five-day practice period has been calm and sunny. Strong northwest winds could feasibly open a window for a reaction bite – possibly with a swimbait, the ultimate big-bass slayer.
The No. 1 seeds from each division will face the No. 30 seeds, the No. 2 seeds will face the No. 29 seeds, and so on. The winners of these head-to-head matchups will advance to the Forrest Wood Cup along with the top 30 co-anglers based on accumulated weight at the Fish-Off. The pro with the heaviest overall weight will also earn $25,000, and the co-angler with the heaviest overall weight will earn $5,000.
Anglers will take off at 7 each morning from the East Diablo launch ramp at Lake Amistad Marina in Del Rio. Weigh-ins each day will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
On the Web
For those who can’t catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.
Sunrise: 7:30 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 41 degrees
Expected high temperature: 69 degrees
Water temperature: 50-55 degrees
Wind: NW at 18 mph
Maximum humidity: 25 percent
Day’s outlook: sunny and windy