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6 minutes ago by Keith Worrall

Amended 09/24/2022 at 7:20 p.m.

Keith Poche of Pike Road, Alabama won the 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Central Open at Red River presented by Mossy Oak Fishing with a three-day total of 37 pounds, 12 ounces. Photo by Andy Crawford/Bass

September 24, 2022

BOSSIER CITY, The. – You could say Keith Pocket channeled Frank Sinatra, because the Pike Road, Ala. pro absolutely made his way en route to a three-day total of 37 pounds, 12 ounces that won the St. Croix Bassmaster Central Open at Red River presented by Mossy Oak Fishing.

After catching 13-3 on Day 1, Poche trailed the leader by just 6 ounces. Equaling that weight again on Day 2, he took first place by a margin of 14 ounces on Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Hackney. Although the championship on Saturday saw Poche weigh his smallest sack at 11-6, he trailed Hackney by 2 1/2 pounds.

“To do it the way I like to do it; to get back to my activities, I fish more comfortably that way,” said Poche, from nearby Natchitoches, Louisiana. “They say fishing is (largely) mental and it is. It’s about making good decisions on the water — and when you’re comfortable, you’re going to make good decisions.

Poche spent most of his time in a small backwater area about 10 minutes from takeoff. Having found the area with a drone during pre-training, he described it as a long, narrow ditch that led to a deeper backwater with riparian vegetation and deposits.

Approaching the area required Poche to traverse a treacherously shallow area. This barrier, he said, would likely prevent a heavier fiberglass bass boat from reaching the fish, but the Pocket vessel was perfectly suited to the task.

“I run an 18-foot Gatortrax boat with a 90 horsepower Mercury and it’s the toughest aluminum boat on the market,” Poche said. “This boat is perfect for getting to small places like this. I do what I do — it’s a style of fishing; it’s who I am.

“There are so many things that can go wrong; you can crash, you can get stuck. I’m so glad it worked. »

Poche caught his bass flipping a 3-inch Berkley Havoc Pit Boss rigged with a 3/8 ounce weight and a Berkley Fusion 19 4/0 hook. Pumpkin green was his favorite color, but when he ran out he found black/blue also produced.

On Days 1 and 2, Poche got the weight he felt he needed, then left his backwater to fish the remaining hours on the main river structure. Both days he made key afternoon takedowns returning random coverage, but on the final day Poche committed in his first place.

“You have to manage those fish when you come back to those places,” he said. “I didn’t have much in there; it’s not like I’m running around and fishing a lot of spots. It’s just one of those deals where you go with it and see what happens.

“It wasn’t just this hole that got me to victory; it was making good decisions to deal with those fish and going into the main river and getting those big bites to carry me to the last day so I could hold on and catch whatever I could catch.

Poche took home the top prize of $48,100 and was invited to fish the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classicto be held in Knoxville, Tennessee, March 24-26.

Hackney placed fifth on Day 1 with 11-14, then moved up to second after weighing in the heaviest hold of the event – ​​13-10. In the final round, he added a 9-12 limit and settled at 35-4.

Spending most of his time in Pool 4, Hackney found his bass by looking for areas of greatest current flow. September on the Red River typically sees slow water movement, but surges for lock openings have often triggered pitting.

“Whenever I fish in the state, I like to do it,” Hackney said. “I like to fish at home and I don’t have the opportunity to do so because I travel a lot. But it’s been a good week; It was funny.”

Noting that he caught his fish on a spinnerbait, a Strike King Sexy Frog and a Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Bug, Hackney said the key to his success was getting around concentrations of baitfish.

“The river is really healthy now,” he said of the upward trend in the Red River, after changing the floods of 2015 and 2016. “It’s crazy how many shad are in the river. I have been up to pool 3, pool 4 and up to pool 5 and each pool is exactly the same.

“There is so much bait and the vegetation is coming back. There is grass and pads in the backwaters.

David Gaston of Sylacauga, Ala., started the final day in third place and finished there 31-1. The first two days he caught limits of 11-8 and 12-7 but missed two fish on day 3 with 7-2.

Focusing on shallow backwaters, Gaston alternated between a 3/8 ounce Nichols swim jig with a Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed ​​Craw, a Spro Bronzeye Jr. frog, and a Texas-rigged Zoom Speed ​​Worm.

“It was really difficult; the secret this week was water and sunscreen,” Gaston said. “Three fish is what I thought I had on day one and day two so I needed a crash and it was a good day to do it as I could only finish 10th.”

Day 1 leader Todd Risinger of West Monroe, Louisiana won the $750 Phoenix Boats Big Bass prize with his 5-1.

Gaston leads the Central Open standings with 393 points. Jimmy Washam of Covington, Tennessee, is second with 390, followed by Risinger with 371, Doug Guins of Lake Charles, Louisiana with 366 and Nick LeBrun of Bossier City, Louisiana with 362.

Poche leads the overall Bassmaster Opens points standings with 1,170 points.

The tournament was organized by the Shreveport-Bossier Athletic Commission.

2022 Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: St. Croix
2022 Bassmaster Opens Series Presenting Sponsor: Mossy Oak Fishing
2022 Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2022 Bassmaster opens major series sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2022 Bassmaster opens series sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Strike King, Triton Boats, VMC

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The Bassmaster Tournament Trail features the most prestigious events at every level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, TNT Fireworks BASS Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, l ‘Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.