Collins Takes Lead At B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional On Toledo Bend Reservoir
MANY, La. —

Albert Collins thought an average weight of 12 or 13 pounds per day could put him in contention at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional at Toledo Bend Reservoir.

After Day 1, he’s right on target.

Collins, who lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, about an hour’s drive from the event’s takeoff site at Cypress Bend Park, caught five bass on Wednesday that weighed 13 pounds, 2 ounces. That total met his expectations — and it was enough to give him the lead on this mammoth 181,000-acre reservoir on the Louisiana/Texas border.

Collins has a slim 8-ounce lead in the boater division, which features 80 anglers from eight states. An additional 80 nonboaters are competing in the three-day event, which is the final B.A.S.S. Nation Regional before the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, which is scheduled for Nov. 11-13 on Alabama’s Pickwick Lake.

Collins said he only fishes Toledo Bend about twice a year. But knowing he was competing in this regional, he’s made note of the winning totals from recent tournaments on the famed fishery.

“Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation had their tournament here two weeks ago, and it took 24 pounds over two days to win that one,” Collins said. “There was a team tournament here last weekend, and it took 25 pounds to win that one. So I knew it was going to be pretty tough.”

Collins, who will turn 56 on Halloween, said he only caught seven keepers Wednesday. He believes Hurricane Delta, which came ashore in southwest Louisiana last week, may have hindered the Day 1 haul on Toledo Bend.

Of the 160 competing anglers, only nine caught double-digit totals, which is noteworthy for a place that produces lunker bass with relative frequency. Oklahoma’s Austin Cranford, who weighed four bass for 12-9, is in second place, while Arkansas’ Jim Martin (four bass, 12-4) and his Natural State teammate Don Douglas IV (five bass, 12-2) hold down third and fourth place, respectively.

Collins said he’s been forced to adjust on the fly.

“I was on a little better bite in practice, but the hurricane has the water up,” he said. “I’m fishing offshore, but kind of at mid-depth, and it changed some things. I caught three fish early, and the last of them I had to grind pretty hard to catch.”

Collins said he favored plum colored lures on Day 1, including a 6th Sense C10 crankbait (chartreuse/black), a 6th Sense Ridge worm and a Mister Twister Hang 10! worm. Danny Fourr of Waterflow, N.M., caught three bass that weighed 9-2 and leads the nonboater field.

Fourr qualified for the 2016 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Lake Conroe in Texas, but he got sick during the tournament and didn’t perform well. Nevertheless, he said having that experience made him a better angler and he wants to prove it on Toledo Bend — and hopefully Pickwick.

“I’m here this week to get back (to the championship),” Fourr said. “I’m ready to go again.”

Jason Carpenter of Greeley, Colo., had a 6-11 largemouth that ranked as the heaviest bass in either division. That was the only fish he caught, but he’s still in 27th place. There is a $500 cash prize for the boater with the heaviest bass of the tournament and a $250 prize for the biggest bass in the nonboater division.

Team Arkansas led Wednesday’s action with its 20 anglers combining to catch 53 bass for a total weight of 115-5. Team Louisiana is in second place (40 bass, 90-8) and Missouri is third (38 bass, 75-13.)

The entire field will compete again Thursday, and both divisions will be cut to their Top 16 anglers for Friday’s final day of competition. Any competitors in first or second place for their state, but not in the Top 16 in their division, will make the cut as well.

The top boater will win $5,000 and the top nonboater will earn $2,500. The state with the heaviest total after Thursday’s weigh-in will win $5,000.

The total purse for this week’s regional is $24,000.

Day 2 of the B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional will begin at Cypress Bend Park at 7 a.m. CT Thursday. Weigh-in is scheduled for 3 p.m.

The tournament is being hosted by the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Toledo Bend Lake Country, the Sabine River Authority, DeSoto Parish Tourist Commission and the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission.