Local knowledge powers Kindy to Day 2 lead in Bassmaster Open on Lake Ouachita

Jeremiah Kindy hasn’t caught many bass this week during the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Ouachita presented by SEVIIN. But so far, he has caught the right 10 to be leading the event with a two-day total of 35 pounds, 12 ounces.

Adding 16-5 Friday to the 19-7 he caught during Thursday’s opening round, the Benton, Ark., native is just over a pound ahead of fellow Arkansan Matt Baker while Andrew Hargrove remains in the Top 3 with a two-day total of 34-4.

“It feels great to be leading. These guys are killers. I’m proud to fish with them,” Kindy said.

Kindy has fished Lake Ouachita most of his life. But so far, he has been relatively surprised how the lake has fished the last two days.

He figured the Day 2 conditions, cloudy and windy, would create a better bite across the lake than the calm and sunny conditions on the first day. That was not the case as he and many other anglers struggled to find a consistent bite.

“I thought they were going to smash them today,” he said. “This is the exact weather you want on Lake Ouachita.”

Throughout the week, Kindy has caught bass using a crankbait and a Rat-L-Trap around rocky areas that have hydrilla close by. He has caught bass from 2 to 14 feet of water.

With so much knowledge on the lake, Kindy has tried to fish fresh water every day. His most productive spot Friday was a place he didn’t even fish on Day 1. He will likely mix in new water Saturday as well as some of his best spots from Day 1.

“All day, I’m confident that the next stop I make, I’m going to catch one,” he said.

The day did not start well for Kindy, who did not have a bass in the livewell at noon. He changed areas and managed to catch a limit weighing about 9 pounds before returning and culling all but one of those bass with his final tally in the last two hours.

His biggest bass weighed over 4 pounds.

“It is always an adventure on this lake. It is tough,” he said.

Unlike the first two days when temperatures reached the upper 60s, the high temperatures on the final day are only expected to reach the high 40s with winds out of the north Saturday. Kindy isn’t exactly sure how that will affect his bite.

“I thought today was going to be easy and it was hard,” he said. “I thought yesterday was going to be hard and it was easy. I still believe once they start staging, they don’t leave. They may fade back and forth, but I’m going to be throwing around them.”

With bags of 17-11 on Day 1 and 16-16 on Day 2, Baker has done a little bit of everything to achieve his two-day total of 34-10.

“I don’t feel like I’m dialed in, but I’m thankful to be where I’m at,” Baker said.

While this isn’t his home lake, Baker has fished plenty of tournaments on Ouachita. This week, he has bounced back and forth between several different areas with varying degrees of water clarity. He caught his limit using five different baits on Thursday and four different baits on Friday.

“They are around the grass in the clearer water and are in the 11- to 20-foot range,” Baker said. “In the dirtier water, I’m catching them in 2 to 8 feet. I’m seeing fish deeper in dirtier water, but I can’t catch them.”

After bouncing around a couple of spots, Baker found an area where the wind was hitting and caught his first bass, a 5-pound kicker which anchored his bag. He caught another keeper before moving to an area with dirty water and filled his limit.

“I got a limit quick,” Baker said. “It’s a place where I got a lot of my weight yesterday. I caught one of them good ones too, a 4 3/4. It doesn’t seem like there’s a bunch of bass up there. I had two big ones at that point and had all day to catch two more big ones.”

Unfortunately for Baker, he scrambled around most of the afternoon and could not locate another kicker largemouth.

“I really thought I had a chance at a big bag today coming back down here and fishing in the wind,” he said. “I finally culled about 20 or 30 minutes (before check-in), but I had a lot of down time where I wasn’t helping myself. I had to cover tons of water and junk fish and tried to find something for tomorrow.”

Entering the day in second, Hargrove added 14-5 to his 19-15 Day 1 tally. Using his forward-facing sonar, Hargrove has roamed a deep flat that features grass and brushpiles. The bass, however, aren’t relating to the cover and are instead cruising the bottom in anywhere from 20 to 40 feet of water.

“Most of the bass are just swimming on the bottom. Those are mostly singles and I try to throw to them and get them to eat,” Hargrove said. “Yesterday, a few of my bigger ones came out of brushpiles.”

New York’s Zach Goutremout caught a 10-14 largemouth that anchored his 22-0 Day 2 bag, taking control of the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass.

Robert Jacuzzi from Mount Ida, Ark., won the co-angler competition with a two-day total of 13-11. Jacuzzi landed in eighth after Day 1 with a limit weighing 6-3 before catching 7-8 on the second day. Georgia’s Chad Stahl finished second with a total of 12-2 and Alex Allen was third with 12-1.

Jimmy O’Brien from Southampton, N.Y., earned $250 for catching the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Tournament on the co-angler side, a 6-1 largemouth he landed on Day 1.

The Top 10 pros will launch from Brady Mountain Recreation Area at 6:45 a.m. CT Saturday and return for weigh-in at 2:45 p.m. The winner will punch his ticket to the 2025 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors, given they have fished all three tournaments in Division II.

The final day of competition will be broadcast live on FS1 Saturday morning beginning at 6:30 a.m. CT, with streaming available on Bassmaster.com, as well as FS2 and the FOX Sports digital platforms.

The tournament is being hosted by Visit Hot Springs.