1:20 Weight estimates:
Hunter Freeman – 7-8 (5)
Thomas Soileau – 9-0 (5)
1:20 That's a wrap
With minimal reports in the last hour were going to shut down the blog for the day. The Red River South Marina bay is proving itself to be much more difficult than we expected. Unofficially, Freeman and Soileau are within a pound and a half of one another. Such a small margin will make for a dramatic weigh-in. The two anglers are set to cross the stage at 3:50 p.m. CT this afternoon at Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City. Make sure to watch it live on flwfishing.com as one of them will punch their ticket to the Forrest Wood Cup.
12:00 Freeman limits
Hunter finally has five fish in the boat. Unfortunately, fish No. 5 might be the smallest keeper he could have possibly caught. Still, a limit is a limit. Now Freeman needs to make some culls to catch up to Soileau.
11:30 Thomas culls
Thomas Soileau just made another cull after battling through a midday lull. His best five fish should be pushing nine pounds. Freeman finally gave up on his spot and is moving to a fresh area within the bay. A fifth fish for Freeman would sure go a long way now that he is two pounds back.
So far, the ULM anglers have been steadily chipping away at smaller fish, with a few decent ones mixed in. Since the last update Soileau caught a fish that didn’t help him. He’s still working wood banks. Freeman is still grinding away hoping to fill out his limit. It's looking like a kicker or two will be the difference maker.
10:05 First cull
Freeman is still one fish away from a limit. So far, his fish total 6 or 7 pounds. Soileau just gained about a half pound on his first cull. Once Freeman limits, this fish-off will be neck-and-neck.
Freeman was getting close to the west end bank where the water was very clean but a sandbar blocked his way. Then Hunter turned around and buzzed back to the deeper area where he caught his better fish from earlier. And just like that, he brought in a 3-pounder on a crankbait.
Soileau has yet to catch another fish since filling out his limit.
9:10 Switching baits, stumps
Hunter has begun mixing in all different types of baits. Obviously, he is still trying to hone in on a pattern. All baits are being pitched at the wood-choked bank. There are also stumps everywhere. He can’t go 15 feet without bumping into one.
Thomas Soileau just completed his limit. In all, his fish weigh around 8 pounds.
The college boys have cooled off since their last flurries. Freeman is hitting the banks north of takeoff, exclusively casting at the bank, while Soileau is more towards the south. There is plenty of good looking stuff these guys will hit throughout the day. With so many fish in the area, they’re bound to figure them out.
Soileau is now one fish away from a small limit. He’s focusing on a particular cluster of wood located on a bank. Alternating between a shaky head and a Texas rig has been his go-to approach so far. He’s off to a good start but will undoubtedly need to upgrade at some point. Freeman is now up to three fish – No. 3 being a dink.
Thomas Soileau just nabbed his second keeper of the morning. He’s flipping a Texas rigged plastic in wood.
Hunter Freeman has his first pair of small keepers in the boat. The ULM angler appears to be throwing white spinnerbait with gold-Colorado blades. The bait also has a single orange strand in skirt. Soileau is still working on No. 2.
6:50 On the board
Thomas Soileau has the first fish catch of the morning – a decent keeper. He is pitching wood in the Southeast corner of the bay. This is the area nearest the entrance to the Red River. Meanwhile, Hunter Freeman just got to fishing. He is opening things up by tossing a spinnerbait around stumps.
6:45 Fish-off time
Yesterday, the team of Hunter Freeman and Thomas Soileau from the University of Louisiana-Monroe won the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance C-Map Genesis on the Red River. Today, the duo will compete against each other in a fish-off for a bid to the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup. It truly is a scenario that will test the cunning and skill of the two-fellow anglers.
The playing field of the fish-off is the Red River South Marina and Resort Bay. There are plenty of release fish in it from the Championship and other tournaments, but it’s also a flat-out good place to fish. Depending on how you measure it, the bay is about 2 or 3 miles long, and there are docks, rocks, wood and some current elements as well. It isn’t too different from the playing field for the event, but the fishing is likely to be better – don’t be surprised to see the winning angler sack up a bag in the upper teens. Both Soileau and Freeman have grown up fishing bodies of water like this, and their win on the rest of the river certainly qualifies them well for the task, so one of them is bound to figure out how to catch ‘em good.
Weigh-in will be at 3:50 p.m. CT the Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City, La., just a few minutes before the final weigh-in for the T-H Marine BFL All-American. That gives the pair a full day of fishing to break down the fresh body of water. We have no idea what they will do, but this once-a-year scenario should be entertaining, and the winner is going to the Cup.