UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

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Gulledge hot on Red River, takes pro lead again

Gulledge hot on Red River, takes pro lead again
Pro Danny Gulledge of Hamburg, Ark., caught five bass that weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces to lead opening day of the four-day, $239,325 EverStart Series event on the Red River near Natchitoches.

Darby leads co-anglers

NATCHITOCHES, La. - The heat index on the Red River topped out well over 100 degrees Wednesday, and that's just about exactly how hot Danny Gulledge is when he fishes this waterway. Gulledge took a commanding Pro Division lead with a five-bass weight of 18 pounds, 8 ounces on the sweltering first day of EverStart Series Central Division competition in Louisiana.

Last year at the EverStart tourney held just upriver near Shreveport, the angler from Hamburg, Ark., held the lead on days two and three, and ultimately finished in eighth place. This year, Gulledge is hot out of the chute again, grabbing a 2-pound lead over another Red River rat, Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn.

"I'm in a totally different area than I was last year," said Gulledge, who concentrated his efforts on the river's Pool 4 in 2002. "But this pool's as good as the other pool was. I found it in practice."

Gulledge only caught six keeper bass Wednesday, but what was remarkable was their quality. Save Powers, nobody else came within 4 1/2 pounds of the leader despite the fact that 55 pros caught limits. While he said it was a "slow bite," Gulledge caught his first fish, a 3-pounder, immediately after dropping his trolling motor for the first cast of the day.

"After I caught that 5-6 (his biggest bass), it gave me a limit. So I came back," he said.

So what's his trick? Wednesday, it initially appeared that 13 or 14 pounds would be top dog until Gulledge came in. Especially considering the oppressive heat, how is he managing to land such sizable fish?

According to him, it's not necessarily the bait he's using or his location. "I don't know if it was the location. I had nine boats around me all day," he said. "I caught some on a spinner bait, a crankbait and a brush hog. Until today, the spinner bait has out-fished everything, but the spinner-bait bite kind of died out."

The answer, he said, is simply the river. "No, I don't know anything (special) about it. Probably 90 percent of the guys here know more about it than I do," he said. "It just suits me and my style of fishing."

His other secret might have more than a little to do with the steamy weather. When asked about it, Gulledge was the only angler who said he wanted more of it. Incidentally, last year's EverStart contest on the Red River was also held in June, and the heat was eerily similar to this week's conditions.

"I love it. I hope the heat index is 110 degrees tomorrow," he said. "No, I'm not crazy. It's just good for my fishing."

Powers at home on the Red

Besides Gulledge, several of the other sweaty-necked anglers in the top 10 had less kind things to say about today's heat.

"It's the Serengeti out there," fifth-place pro Kevin Short said.

"It's pretty brutal," sixth-place pro Terry Bolton said. "I checked in 10 or 15 minutes early because I figured that, if I caught two 4-pounders on the Red River in this heat, I'd done all I could do."

However, the fish don't seem to mind the 90-degree water temps too much. Many anglers, like second-place Powers, reported landing their catches at a depth of less than a foot where the murky water is even warmer.

"It's killer," he said of the heat, "but the fish down here are used to it. The biggest one I caught, I saw it hit my bait."

Powers has had success at the Red River before, having won the FLW Tour event in Shreveport in 2001 and placing third at the same event in 2000. Wednesday, he landed the only other stringer over 14 pounds with a limit weighing 16-8. He caught the bulk of his bass with a flat shad bait "homemade in east Tennessee."

"This is no-brainer fishing," Powers said. "It's just river-fishing."

Rest of the best

Third place in the Pro Division went to Keith Surber of Longview, Texas, with a five-bass weight of 13 pounds, 14 ounces.

Fourth place went to Gerald Guin of Castor, La., with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 10 ounces.

Fifth place went to Short, who hails from Mayflower, Ark., with a limit weighing 12 pounds, 15 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 pros were Bolton, of Paducah, Ky., with a five-bass weight of 12 pounds, 5 ounces; John Sappington of Wyandotte, Okla., (seventh place) with a five-bass weight of 11-1; Tim Carroll of Owasso, Okla., (eighth) with a five-bass weight of 10-15; Tommy Dillon of Manhattan, Kan., (ninth) with a five-bass weight of 10-12; and Shaun Loftin of Coushatta, La., (10th) with a five-bass weight of 10-11.

Joe Gerard of Concordia, Kan., earned $750 as the big-bass award winner in the Pro Division Wednesday thanks to a 5-pound, 13-ounce bass.

Darby dials in co-angler lead

While just eight co-anglers caught limits Wednesday, even fewer of them were filled with substantial bass. Chris Darby of Mount Ida, Ark., however, hooked into a couple fish in the 3-pound range and took the Co-angler Division lead with his limit weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces.

Fishing upriver one pool above Morgan's Landing, Darby focused on lily pads and shallow water. He caught six keepers using a Yum tube and an Excalibur Pop-R.

"I thought it would be a good weight," he said, "but I never thought I'd have the lead with 10 pounds. That's awesome."

Thursday, Darby will have to change strategies to a crankbait pattern since his pro partner will be worker a little deeper, but he feels good about his chances to make the cut.

"I feel confident that I can catch at least one (bass) tomorrow, and that's probably all I will need," he said.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Bruce Dale of Jamestown, Ohio, (second place) with three bass weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces; Gerald Andrews of Benton, Ky., (third) with three bass weighing 9-2; Jim Hargrave of Cushing, Okla., (fourth) with three bass weighing 9-0; and Chris Phillips of Little Rock, Ark., (fifth) with five bass weighing 7-14.

Terry Pettle of Wagoner, Okla., took co-angler big-bass honors and $250 with a 4-pound, 13-ounce bass.

Thursday's fishing action ensues at 6 a.m. at Morgan's Landing as the field takes off for the second half of opening-round competition. The top 20 anglers in both divisions following tomorrow's fishing will advance to Friday's semifinal round.

Click here for a preview of day two.

Day-one links:

Photos
Results
Thursday's pairings
Press release

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2003-06-25-red-river 

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