Lake Amistad, covering 67,000 acres and located near Del Rio, Texas, on the Texas-Mexico border, is home to the fourth Elite Series event of the 2008 season.
2007 Elite Series Rookie of the Year, Derek Remitz, is familiar with the waters of this Rio Grande and Devil's River impoundment. In 2007 he won the Battle on the Border with 111 pounds, 7 ounces. Unfortunately, he doesn't see that much weight in his future again, at least not at the 2008 Battle on the Border.
"It's been tough the last two days (Monday and Tuesday). The big bite just isn't here. I don't really know why, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's not past its prime," he says. "Now don't get me wrong, Amistad is still capable of producing 30-pound bags but I think there'll be fewer of them this year."
To illustrate his point, Remitz, offers the details of his Tuesday practice. He reports fishing 13 1/2 hours and says he had "maybe 19 pounds" from his five best fish. That's not a lot of weight and his disappointment with it shows.
"I'm a little frustrated, but it's not just me. I think most of the guys are having trouble finding a big bite. It seems like the giants have disappeared or gone to places unknown," he says. "At least if anybody is on good fish they aren't talking about it to me or anyone else.
"Small bass — 13- to 15-inchers — can be caught almost anywhere in the lake, all day long, at will. It's easy to get a sack full of them. A lot of the guys will have limits of 2-pound bass but only a few will get the ones that weigh 3, 4 and 5 pounds. And I believe that's what it'll take to win."
Remitz goes on to say that he'll consider himself lucky to catch 17-18 pounds per day and will be "thrilled" if he can bag 20 pounds on the first day.
"My plan is to move around, throw Senkos and Omega Custom Tackle jigs, and try to catch one or two from every spot I stop at. I'll fish 10, 20, 30 and 40 feet of water in different areas around the lake and hope for the best. You know, just keep moving from spot to spot and try to put a respectable bag together by the end of the day.
"At this point that's all I can do. I can't find bunches of them anywhere and have just about given up looking. They're scattered on the flats in the brush and the weeds as well as along the drops. In practice I've caught bass in 10 feet of water and I've caught them in 60 feet of water. Right now I don't know anything else to try. Honestly, I don't have a pattern. I've told you everything I know."
As for a winning weight this week, Remitz thinks that it's possible someone will break 100 pounds but that it's not likely. "If I had to guess, I'd say 90 or 95 pounds will win it," he predicts. "But you never know. This is the Elite Series. These guys are good. Someone might tear them up. You just never know."
When asked about anglers to watch this week, other than he and 2006 winner Ish Monroe, Remitz is candid with his comments.
"With the way the bite is it could be anyone. But I'd say you have to look at Kevin VanDam if the bite is shallow — between 10 and 20 feet. I know that's obvious but it's still true. You also want to keep a sharp eye on Mike McClelland. He's really good at catching bass shallow and deep in the same tournament and that's what I think it'll take.
"And don't forget about Jeff Kriet. He always catches fish here. Jeff can put together a heavy sack in no time flat on this lake. Don't count him out until it's over."
But, like all anglers who fish South Texas waters, Remitz tempers his predictions with vague, almost sinister, comments about the wind.
"It's always a factor here. When it blows, it blows hard and really confines the anglers. It can be real nasty. It doesn't affect the bite directly. I guess the fish are used to it, but it's hard on anglers. Running can be a problem and so can boat control. It takes a lot of good water out of the mix," he explains. "They're calling for wind later this week."