Tournament Trail: Bassmaster Elite
Lake:  Louisiana Red River
Dates: February 20-22nd 2009
Angler: Mark Menendez


Bass East Post-Tournament Fishing Log for “Bassmaster Classic” on ”Red River”

Mark Menendez’s was literally “All-Charged-Up” when I finally reached him by telephone! This Kentucky Gentleman utilized his degree in Fisheries Biology hitting a direct ‘Bull’s Eye’ with his Pre-Classic Predictions! And, I was anxious to fan-cast his Optima Battery Brain for every ounce of informational feedback I could land.

Q.  Did your Top-3 Classic Angler Choices practice and preparation for this event go as planned?

A. “I believe they did, both Bill Lowen and Kelly Jordan make the Top-25 cut, while Todd Faircloth missed placing 35th. My #1 Choice Bill Lowen finished the Classic in 23rd place, but remember in the Classic there is only one Champion. Bill’s practice went excellent and he felt his areas were strong enough to win going into the start of the Classic, and the same goes for Kelly Jordan. Who by the way landed a Top-10 Classic finish.”.

Q.  Playing the “Monday Morning Quarterback”, what changes if any do you believe your Top-3 Choices would make if they had to do it all over again?

A. “I’ll start with Todd Faircloth. I haven’t had the time to speak with Todd, but from what I have read Todd may have spent too much time in his areas, believing that they would come through for him. In Todd’s situation it may have been over confidence in his areas of selection? As for Bill Lowen he would not have changed a single move! Bill was in a great area loaded with bass. Unfortunately, as the Classic progressed Bill realized his 3 lb average bass would not land a Classic victory. On Day #3 Bill gambled leaving his area and searched areas with the same type of cover, utilizing the his same techniques, Power Fishing, by flipping Pad Stems, and thick Hyacinth with a soft-plastic bait. You might say Bill Lowen went ‘Freelancing’. Bill felt if he could land a 7 lb bass he had a chance at winning! Kelly also took a gamble on the Day #3 by leaving his area. Kelly is one of the best sight fisherman I know, and although his water clarity wasn’t gin clear he knew the bass would utilize the stumps he had located in shallow water. When he didn’t catch any bass right away he thought he would let it sit idle leave and return when the water temperature got higher. In Kelly’s situation, I understand another angler came in while he was not there and landed a sack of bass over 20lbs?”   

Q.  You originally predicted covering water with reaction type baits would be the prevalent pattern, and that your Skeeter Boats deck would be displaying Big Jigs, spinnerbaits and shallow diving square bill crankbaits. With the Classic over what changes would you make?

A. “Since I didn’t actually fish the Classic and I do not know of any anglers having success with crankbaits, I will assume the same results during my practice period. Therefore the shallow square billed crankbait would be the only bait I would eliminate.  With that said I would then have several spinnerbait rigs ready each with different blades, such as Colorado/Willow, Colorado/Indiana, as well as a double Colorado! Each producing a different presentation, and I would continue with my same jig combinations. Skeet won the Classic with a very similar one-two punch, therefore I believe my choice of baits as well as my predicted patterns was indeed a winning choice!” 

Q. Your forecast of 17 lbs a day as well as your prediction of needing 25lbs to make the Top-25 Cut hit a bull’s-eye! While your forecast of witnessing winning weights over 50 lbs prove to be true! Any comments on why six of the Top-10 weighed in over 50lbs?

A. “I believe the weather along with angler pressure played a key role in this Classic. Although the Red River is long covering almost a hundred miles, it fished very small for the Classic. Add in all of the commotions and unnatural noise caused by boat traffic, hitting stumps and speeding bass boats coupled with a cold front and the Best of B.A.S.S. had to deal with fewer bass bites. Take away one half of the field add some warmer weather with sunshine, and we started to see some of the Red River hawgs appearing adding some very important weight on the final day!”   

Q. What’s next on the Bass Fishing agenda for Mark Menendez?

A. “Well Bill as we talk right now I am on way to Del Rio, Texas for the start of the Bassmaster Elite Series Battle on the Border at Lake Amistad.”

Mark Menendez 2009 Bassmaster Classic Predictions

Mark Menendez’s career as a Professional Bass Angler coupled with his extensive educational background in Fisheries Biology has distinguished this Kentucky Gentleman as one of the most respected and knowledgeable bass anglers in America! Mark’s previous trips to the Red River and his understanding of the Black Bass’ behavior in river systems, listed Mark as the ‘Go-to-Guy’ for a Bassmaster Classic Pre-Tournament Prediction

Q. Considering the Red River’s Channel System, Structure and Cover, what are these Classic Contenders in for?    A. “The Red River is extremely difficult to navigate within! The Red River contains a high volume of water, with a narrow flow as it leaves Lake Texacoma. It’s color and clarity can be compared to tomato ketchup, add in a significant amount of rain fall and it lives up to it’s name sake….Red River! One of the most dangerous hazards is the Red River are Wing-Dams. They literally end on the navigation channel, a slight turn off the channel and that lower units going to be ‘TRASH’. Although spotted bass may be caught within the main river system, poor visibility and continued off-colored water usually keeps them spread-out, then factor in their size compared with the largemouth’s in the backwaters, and I highly doubt we will see many if any at all carried to the scales? These Classic Contenders will be heading to the backwater bays and lake areas, all of which vary in depths some as shallow as 2-3′ while others are as deep as 15-18′. I would be tracking backwater clear water, down timber, vegetation growth in sections that will provide spawning opportunities.”

Q. What do you believe will be the Tournaments Prevalent Patterns?   A. “This is going to be a “Bubba Bait Pattern” Power Fishing will dominate in this tournament! With the coming of the full moon, bass will inheritably be heading to the shallows at the back of oxbows. Not to spawn, but to fatten up before and look for the perfect spawning areas, which I believe will be several weeks after the Classic.

Q. Considering normal basic Springtime Pre-Spawn Seasonal Patterns, which Techniques do you believe will be utilized?   A. “Once again the Power Bait-Reaction Bait techniques are going to be most prevalent. The average size largemouth’s on the Red River range in the 5-7 pound class. Classic Contenders are after Big Bass and Big Bass eat Big Baits! Any bait that pushes a lot of water makes a lot of commotion and exhibits a large profile in my opinion is going to be the ticket to a Classic Championship.”

Q. In the world of ‘Big-Baits’ what would be Mark Menendez’s choice of Baits, and do you think most of the bass will be caught on these style baits?    A. “Man…It’s so easy to compete in this Classic from a spectators seat!!! However, these are the very BEST Bass Anglers in the World and although there may be only slight differences in their baits, it’s the individual’s ability and confidence in his/her presentations within their selected areas of choice paired with the population of bass within those areas to provide enough weight to win that will give us the final answer! However, my Skeeters deck would reveal Power Tackle Paragon Rods, paired with Pflueger Reels, spooled with Trilene line in a variety of pound-test balanced for each specific bait and technique. My Top-3; #1-Strike King Primer Plus Spinnerbait ½ oz Double Colorado Blades, #2 Strike King 4-S Chart/Blk Crankbait, #3 3/8 and ½ oz Jig with a Denny Brauer Trailer in a Texas Gun Color.”

Q. With everything taken into perspective how much weight would you anticipate we should see brought to the scales each day, and what is your guess as to the to the winning weight for the 2009 Red River Bassmaster Classic?   A. “I believe 17lbs a day, with 25 lbs making the Top-25 Cut. To win the Classic it’s possible we will see a winning weight over 50 lbs?”

Q. Tell us your Top-3 choices as to who you believe may win the classic and briefly why?

A. “My #1 Choice is Bill Lowen. Bill is an Ohio native and an expert at running river systems as well as dissecting them into the best bass holding areas. Bill knows how to save precious tournament time by eliminating areas. In simple words Bill Lowen is an Expert Shallow Water Angler!”
My #2 Choice would be Kelly Jordan. Kelly has had tremendous success on the Red River, add in the fact he has an enormous amount of time on that water and is an excellent sight fisherman Kelly is going to be tough to beat.”
My #3 Choice is Todd Faircloth. Todd is riding high with confidence after having a great year on the Elite Tour. He too has demonstrated his success on the Red River, so I predict Todd Faircloth to be in the Top-25 cut as well.”