The Barnett Reservoir area will be more colorful in February, as will the streets and hotel parking lots in nearby communities.
The Bassmaster Central Open season begins with a three-day event on the 33,000-acre lake on March 1-3, and since Opens carry no off-limit period on tournament waters, most of the estimated 250 pro fishermen in the boater division will be expected to visit in February.
“Generally, we start seeing boats come in a few months out, especially guys who have never fished here before,” said Myron Watson, co-owner of Performance Outboards on Highway 43, just across the road from Barnett’s most-popular bass launch spot, Goshen Springs Landing.
“They come in to learn how to get around, where they can and can’t run on the lake,” Watson said. “They ride around more than anything else until it gets close to the tournament time. Then they come in and start learning where the fish are at that time, and then trying to figure out where they will be when the tournament starts.”
That could make an already crowded lake even more crowded in February. Local tournaments start around the first of February and continue with as many as two or three per weekend. The prespawn crappie fishing, which is rated as some of the best in the world, also generates a lot of traffic in February.
“Heck, it’s nothing people around here aren’t used to,” Watson said. “There’s always a crowd on Barnett. We even had them during the ice in January, and they were catching fish, too.”
The Bassmaster Central Open, whose local hosts are the City of Ridgeland Tourism Commission and the Barnett Reservoir Foundation, will be staged out of Madison Landing in Ridgeland. Boats will launch daily at sunrise, and Thursday’s and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Landing beginning around 3 p.m. For Saturday’s final weigh-in, the event moves to Pearl and the Bass Pro Shop parking lot.
There will be no charge to attend any tournament-related function.