PREVIEW: Sudden Death is a Bruin
By Rob Newell
May 29, 2018
Day four of the MLF Challenge Cup out of Natchez, Miss., and Vidalia, La., brings the fans’ favorite round – Sudden Death – where nine anglers “race” to the cut weight and only four advance to the Championship Round.
Today’s competition moves to yet another oxbow lake in Eastern Louisiana called Lake Bruin where the cut weight has been set at 22 pounds.
Bruin is a true Mississippi River oxbow that was formed thousands of years ago when the Mighty Mississippi cut another course through the land, leaving Bruin as an oxbow. In recent history, modern flood control levees have been installed, officially cutting Bruin off from the main river and raising its elevation with a higher spillway.
Today Bruin is a 2850-acre lake that is about 10 miles long with depth ranges down to 22 feet, making it a relatively deep lake for an oxbow. The lakeshore is jam-packed with houses, cabins and large docks, known as “camps” in Louisiana. In between the docks are plenty of cypress trees and emergent vegetation. In sum, Bruin looks like bass fishing heaven and those fishing today’s Sudden Death are licking their chops to sample Bruin’s waters.
As the caravan comes to a halt at Lake Bruin State Park, Bobby Lane is all smiles. After discovering a hot bite in the first period of the Elimination Round on Cocodrie Lake to qualify for Sudden Death, Lane is glad to be back on an oxbow.
“There have been plenty of times in MLF where the ‘local guy’ didn’t advance. This format is all about fishing the day, fishing the moment and avoiding the bad decisions that can leave you in the dust.”
“Well, here we are again, on a bayou in the middle of nowhere – I love it,” said Lane. “This kind of shallow water fishing suits me just fine.”
Lane got off to smoking start on Cocodrie, catching over 18 pounds in the first period.
“I got on a deal right off the bat where I found fish set up on outside pieces of cover,” he said. “Any piece of wood out there off the bank had a fish on it. It was an early morning deal, which is typical of this time of year: you get a hot early morning bite, a lull, and then things pick up again in the afternoon when it warms back up. The morning was great, but then things came to a screeching halt for me – I never figured out how to get that afternoon bite going.”
Interestingly, Lane believes oxbows are more color sensitive than major reservoirs.
“Each one of these oxbows has little different water color,” Lane explained. “And I think matching the color of your lure to the water color is pretty important in these kinds of lakes. So I’m probably going to switch up colors a little bit more today to try to dial that in a little better.”
As for the cut weight of 22 pounds, Lane says he is good with it.
“I figure it’s going to take 10 to 12 fish to hit that mark,” he added.
MLF Pro Keith Poche lives in Alabama, but grew up near Natchitoches, La., in the northwestern part of the state, where he fished small ponds as a kid.
“I learned about bass fishing here in Louisiana when I was a kid but I didn’t get serious about tournament fishing until later in life,” said Poche, who qualified fourth during his Elimination Round.
“I’m comfortable with this style of fishing, but just because I’m from Louisiana doesn’t mean much against these guys. They’re comfortable with this style of fishing, too.”
“One thing I’ve learned about these MLF events is that it doesn’t matter if you are fishing in the same state as where you’re from or not,” Poche said. “Everyone thinks you have some kind of advantage when you’re from somewhere. There have been plenty of times in MLF where the ‘local guy’ didn’t advance. This format is all about fishing the day, fishing the moment and avoiding the bad decisions that can leave you in the dust. There is so much more to this game that just having some history spots to start on.”
As dawn began to light up Lake Bruin, Andy Montgomery was trying to get a peek at Bruin’s dock-lined banks from the ramp. For a guy who claimed to have “zero experience” on Louisiana oxbows, Montgomery has had no problem doing battle in the bayous as he took the top spot in his Elimination Round day.
With docks being a wheelhouse structure for Montgomery, he was eyeballing their potential. When asked about the plethora of docks on Bruin, Montgomery just grinned.
“We don’t need to talk about that just yet,” he said as he trimmed a jig skirt. “I need to find something to start on first. Those docks probably will not get good until later in the day when the sun gets up higher and their shadows get a little more defined. With a 22-pound cut weight, there might not be a ‘later in the day,’ so I better be finding something to get off to a faster start than that.”