Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Classic

Ask anyone who fished Lay Lake this past week, and they will tell you the fishing was tough. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who unlocked the secret to making Lay’s bass bite. Here’s how I caught my fish during the Bassmaster Classic:
On day one I planned on fishing in Beeswax Creek just about a half mile from take-off. As the 2009 AOY, Kevin got to launch first. I watched him, expecting him to make that turn out to the main lake, but instead he turned the other direction towards the back of Beeswax, where I was planning on fishing…my heart sunk! Staying positive, however, is crucial. I headed on back there and stuck to my guns, even though I had to share my fish with what seemed like everyone else in the field. My day one limit-catching baits were a ½ oz. red-eye shad, a wiggle wart, and a finesse jig fished near the bridge pilings. My bigger fish that day came on a ¾ oz. Excalibur one-knocker bait retrieved just ticking the top of the grass.
On day two the conditions totally changed. There were high bluebird skies, and the fishing got even tougher. I caught my limit that day on the red-eye shad, even though throughout the day my intuition was telling me to throw a smaller, subtler crank. I just passed that idea off, and kept on chunking and winding the bait that caught fish the day before. To make the day hurt even more, I lost a decent fish on that red-eye shad.
On day three I started on the bridge before Kevin’s spectators had a chance to get over top of the fish. I caught my first keeper there on a wiggle wart. After that I went back to fishing the grass with the red-eye shad. After the first pass with the red-eye shad yielded no fish, I remembered my thought from the day before about that smaller crank bait. I tied on a rapala DT6, and almost immediately caught my biggest fish of the week! This bass went about 4lbs, and absolutely choked that crank! I kept on working my area with that DT6 and on the first pass with that bait I caught about 14lbs. When the wind and clouds moved in I switched back to the big one-knocker and caught a 3lber on my first cast to a point that Kevin Wirth had just got done fishing! I really wished I would have camped out on that point for the tournament, because every time I hit it, I caught a fish. Day three was my best day of the entire tournament.

So, that’s my classic in a nutshell, and it is one that I will definitely not forget anytime soon. Now we are in Dallas spending time with family. We thought we could get away from the snowy weather, but we thought wrong. I think this stuff follows us around! While we are here in Texas, I will be working at the Bass Pro Shops Spring classic in both the Dallas/Ft. Worth store and the Bossier City store. So, this week will be nice to catch some rest and relaxation with family, and spend some time with my wife and kids because I hardly got to see them last week. And come Monday, it is back on the road we go, as we are headed to California for the first event of the 2010 Elite season on the Delta. We are keeping our fingers crossed about having to deal with any bad weather!

I want to thank everyone for all of their support during the Classic. I really appreciate it, and it’s good to know that there are that many people watching and caring about me. In talking with some of you, I found out how disappointed you were in my lack of TV airtime. Believe me, I was disappointed too. I didn’t expect to get a ton of TV time with a fifth place finish, but I was hoping for some, especially for my sponsor’s sake! Please, if any of you feel strongly enough about this, send a comment to Bassmaster’s Customer Service, the e-mail is This was without a doubt the best Classic I have ever competed in, and I can only hope that the momentum and the confidence I gained during this past weekend will translate into success during the 2010 Elite season. Thanks again everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cautiously Optimistic

Today is media day, which is always an exciting time for us. I get to have some face to face time with various outdoor media outlets. And when media day is all over, I get to head back to the campground and enjoy some rest and relaxation while I get my tackle prepared for the big contest tomorrow.

Yesterday was the last day of practice, and I had a chance to eliminate a lot of water. The majority of my time yesterday was spent looking for areas with qualities similar to those of my confirmed fishing spots. I double checked those areas, and was able to get a few bites, so I’m feeling good about my decisions.

I think all of us out here are keeping a close eye on the weather man. Right now there is sun in the forecast which will only help things, but with the way the temperatures dip down below freezing every night, any increase in water temperature that occurs during the day is lost at night. But, I will just stay positive and be thankful for the sunshine!

As far as the competition goes, I know better than to be overly confident. But I said it once and I’ll say it again, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about this tournament.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Classic Practice

We finally made it to Birmingham after our long drive from Lake Quivira. The family is getting settled into our home away from home, but it has taken a little longer than expected. I mean, it’s not really a trip without a few major malfunctions, and minor set backs, right? Check out Bobbi’s blog post, she tells the story better than I can!

Anyway, as you all may know, the weather here in the Birmingham area is less than desirable. On the first day of practice, it started snowing at 9a.m. and didn’t stop until 6p.m.! Being from Kansas, I can handle this weather, but these Alabama bass don’t know what to do with snow and water temperatures in the upper thirties. Despite the weather, I’ve managed to locate some good fish and have determined the spots I plan to fish during the big tournament. Both practice days so far have been an all day grind, but I wouldn’t expect anything less given these conditions.

The Classic is a completely different tournament, and not just because of the physical challenges, but because of the mental challenges. No one wins the classic by playing it safe. The classic is won by swinging for the fences and going for the win. And even with all that in mind, I still feel cautiously optimistic.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This year I am proud to introduce Tightlines Lure Company as my boat wrap sponsor. Tightlines Lure Company is one of the global leaders in UV technology, producing baits with UV enhancing qualities that attract and tempt bass to bite!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On Our Way to Birmingham!

It’s the middle of February, and in the world of bass fishing, that means Classic time! I’ve had a long and recuperative break between the end of the 2009 regular season and now. I was disappointed at the end of the Oneida tournament, but now that I have had some time to reflect and focus, I couldn’t be happier with the way that I performed in 2009. Consistency pays off, and for the ninth time in my career, I’m a Bassmaster Classic contender.

During the off-season, I had the opportunity to give back to the outdoor community around me. I was involved in the 7th annual Fishing For Freedom Tournament on Truman Lake, where I had the opportunity to spend time with some of our country’s wounded warriors on and off the water. What a humbling and gratifying experience. I also had the opportunity to get to know the Kansas State University Fishing Team, and speak at one of their club meetings. I commend these guys for all that they are doing in the fishing world, and find myself wishing that collegiate angling would have been available to me when I was their age! Last year I also helped to coordinate a much needed deer management program for my community. We were able to harvest several does, and over time if our efforts continue we will be able to see a much healthier and balanced local deer population.

As a professional bass fisherman, about 7 months of each year revolve around a certain aquatic dwelling green fish. But during the off-season I am able to focus on my favorite terrestrial quarry: the white tailed deer. And this deer season, I was extremely fortunate to harvest my 3rd largest buck ever, which grossed 163 typical inches, from southeastern Kansas. As much as I love bass fishing, I also love the time I am able to spend in the woods deer hunting.

Now the off-season is behind us, and all of the activities, organization, and preparation are done. We’re headed to Birmingham, and I can honestly say that I feel good going into this one. My head is in the right place. I was actually packed and ready three days early, which is a feat when you’re moving your entire family out of your home and into a mobile apartment for 6 months! With all that said, I am really excited to represent my sponsors as I compete in my ninth Bassmaster Classic. This season I will be fishing with the all new Lazer Trokar hooks, the sharpest hooks in the industry. I will also have the opportunity to tap into Skeet Reese’s fishing rod know-how as I will be fishing his signature line of rods from Wright and McGill. I will also be outfitted for battle this season with Wright and McGill’s Sabalos Casting Reels. Ultimately, I am thrilled to continue my association with Eagle Claw. They have been with me since my start in the early 90’s when I was fishing Central Pro Am tournaments, and I am so happy to have them at my side for my ninth Classic appearance! Also this year, I will be fishing out of my 2010 Triton 21HP and 250 Mercury ProXS, which I just picked up from the wrap shop, and I have to say, the new sponsor wrap looks great! We plan to unveil the new wrap soon, so check back for pictures of the rig!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I am down to the wire. I have spend the last few days working on tackle. I have been watching archive DVDs of tournaments and getting mentally focused. I want this Classic. This is my 9th time to the BASS Master Classic and I want to take the victory lap.
I am bringing home the camper and Bobbi will be getting it ready. My wife is AWESOME (I know.) Mason and Makayla have their last week at school and then Bobbi will start homeschooling. This week will fly by and we will be ready for the season (somehow.)
As most of you know, when I am not fishing- I am working on our land. I love land management and working on wildlife habitats. We received an honor last week from Anderson County. It might not seem like much to some people...but to me it is a true honor.
"Certificate of appreciation for making a difference in wildlife habitat"
2009 Wildlife Award.
Thank You Anderson County.