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Updated: Sep 17, 2022

Unless you have lived in both areas, it is not widely known that there are two significant Red River valleys on the American Continent: The Red River Valley of the South and the Red River Valley of the North. Both lay claim to the folk song, Red River Valley, but Bassmaster Open anglers are only concerned about the river running through Louisiana. The Red River (of the South) is a major river named for its reddish color, the result of its passage through red-clay country. It was once a tributary of the Mississippi River, but time has shifted the Red River flowage to now be a tributary of the Atchafalaya River which flows separately into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the second-largest river basin in the southern Great Plains, rising in two branches in the Texas Panhandle and flowing east, where it serves as the border between the states of Texas and Oklahoma. It then forms a short border between Texas and Arkansas before entering Arkansas. It then turns south, flowing into Louisiana, where it feeds the Atchafalaya. The total length of the river is 1,360 miles. In Louisiana, the Red River takes a new channel near Natchitoches, leaving behind Cane River Lake.

The sister cities of Shreveport and Bossier City were developed on either bank of the river. The river is navigable there and broadens into a complex network of marshlands west of the Mississippi River. The Red River's watershed covers 65,590 square miles. In the early 19th century, settlers found that much of the river's length in Louisiana was unnavigable because of a collection of fallen trees that formed a Great Raft over 160 miles. In 1839, Captain Henry Miller Shreve began clearing the log jam, which was not completely cleared until the 1870s, when dynamite became available. The river was thereafter navigable. Removal of the raft further connected the Red and Atchafalaya rivers, accelerating the development of the Atchafalaya River channel. The Civil War’s Red River Campaign (March–May 1864) was fought along the Red River Valley in Louisiana during the American Civil War. It was part of a failed attempt by the Union to occupy eastern Texas. Confederate commander Richard Taylor was able to repel an army under Nathaniel Banks that was three times bigger than his own.

This is the backdrop to the Bassmaster Central Open Sept. 22-24 on a section of Louisiana’s Red River that has been named as one of the top 25 bass-fishing destinations in the country by Bassmaster Magazine, and the pros and co’s should be able to take advantage of the river’s healthy fishery. To local bass anglers, that designation came as no surprise. The only other Louisiana fishery that made the list was the Mississippi River Delta, which earned a 74th-place ranking.

So, there it is, the Central Open series has two events left and this one has potential to produce a catch-fest. The grass mattes and offshore points will be holding a lot of shad which should mean there will be quality fish for the catching. Good bass fishing during the summer/fall transition on the Red is also backed up by analyzing the weights of past Bassmaster tournaments, in which daily sacks weighing 15 to 18 pounds have been common. There have been a couple of Bassmaster Classics on the Red River in Shreveport, and they were quite successful. There are a lot of options running from Shreveport. The river runs through Northwest Louisiana for some 260 miles to Simmesport in Central Louisiana, and it has five pools divided by a 5 lock and dam system.

Historically, pools 5, 4 and 3 receive the most fishing pressure because they are close to the most-populated areas (i.e., Shreveport and Alexandria). Pools 5 and 4 also have many more backwater areas to concentrate fishing efforts. The timing of baitfish moving out of the backwaters can be critical, so anglers might have to visit the relatively less-stained waters in these backwater areas to find bass if the river is high and muddy red. You can flip into these areas along with the current and work any sort of ledge or drop along the river where there is grass with a spinnerbait or squarebill crankbait. The fishing can be very good when the water current moves on points and jetties. Surges in current from releases will move that water around, and the bass get active. That is what the anglers hope for as they actively vie for a Classic berth and AOY points.


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