Great expectations for big bags at Lake Okeechobee

Category: press release

 Mar 21st, 2012 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Mar 21st, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Great expectations for big bags at Lake Okeechobee: They stayed so late Monday on Lake Okeechobee, David Walker and Dave Smith almost missed the last seating of the day at their restaurant of choice.

The two Bassmaster Elite Series pros were much more excited about fishing than about eating. What they saw Monday during the first official practice day for the Power-Pole Slam was certainly food for thought.

“It’s going to be great. There are so many big ones out there, everyone will be bringing in huge bags,” said Walker, an Elite Series pro from Sevierville,Tenn., who finished 10th last week in the Elite season opener on anotherFloridafishery, the St. Johns River.

“And Okeechobee is fishing big, very big,” said Smith of Del City, Okla. “There’s plenty of spots for everyone.”

Both agreed that the bass are in postspawn mode.

Unlike at the St. Johnsevent, “Okeechobee is not going to be a sight fishing deal at all,”Walkersaid.

Fans can pick how to experience the Power-Pole Slam: Bassmaster.com will provide full coverage, from breaking news to in-depth interviews and analysis, for the Power-Pole Slam, Feb.22-25 on Lake Okeechobee.

Fans are invited to C. Scott Driver Park in Okeechobee, Fla., to see the pros start out at 7:30 a.m. ET and weigh their catches beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Online plans include live, streaming video and real-time leaderboards during the weigh-ins, plus photo galleries, standings, results and reports after the weigh-ins. Also online the final two days will be BASSCam videos; from-the-water blogs; BASSTrakk data (catch reports transmitted from the boat by the official observer); and the new War Room, an unrehearsed broadcast from inside the trailer where Bassmaster.com monitors and discusses BASSTrakk reports.

Fans can access all features free of charge at Bassmaster.com. The site also offers free play in B.A.S.S. Fantasy Fishing. Teams can be set up or changed until Thursday, Feb. 22. More than $100,000 will be awarded to winning players in 2012. The overall winner will receive a Triton 18SE bass boat with Mercury 150-hp OptiMax engine.

And, as always, fans can track the tournament on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bass) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/BASS_nation).

Crochet and Roy garner more Biobor support: Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part,La., and Bradley Roy ofLancaster,Ky., are running identical Biobor boat and vehicle wraps this season for mutual sponsor Hammonds Fuel Additives.

On the same sponsor team, the two young Bassmaster Elite Series pros – Crochet is 28 andRoyis 21 – have an ongoing, yet very friendly rivalry. The latest development stems from Biobor’s invitation to fans to guess which of the two pros will post the most weight in each 2012 Elite Series tournament.

Entries are being accepted at www.biobor.com/contest. After each Elite event, the winning fan will collect prizes such as Biobor, Rugged Shark footwear, an Abu Garcia reel and baits made by Taylor Man’s Custom Lures.

Crochet got the better ofRoyin the first round in the March 15-18 St. Johns River Showdown. Crochet made the Top 12 cut and finished seventh with 58-6.Royfinished in 55th place at 22-11, just 11 ounces out of the Top 50 cut.

Elite pro Vinson lands another sponsor: Just a few weeks after a second-place finish in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, Greg Vinson ofWetumpka,Ala., had a new sponsor agreement with Royal Purple, manufacturer of synthetic lubricants.

Royal Purple recently introduced High Performance Marine (HPM) motor oils and gear lube. The HPM product line is designed for four-stroke engines. Multi-Vis 30 and Multi-Vis 40 are available. Royal Purple HPM Gear Lube is for marine lower gear units.

“We’re excited to partner with Greg as he continues to establish his presence in the pro angling circuit,” said Randy Fisher, director of consumer marketing for Royal Purple.

An Elite pro since 2009, Vinson continued his strong start in 2012 with a Top 50 cut in the season’s first Elite event. He finished in 32nd place.

FWC chair underscores importance of bass resource: Kathy Barco, who serves in the volunteer position of chairman ofFlorida’s top conservation governing body, last Sunday welcomed back the Bassmaster Elite Series toPalatka,Fla., and in particular to theSt. Johns, the river she grew up on.

“I have lived most of my life on this river, and it’s such a wonderful fishery,” said the chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

“Floridaunderstands the economic impact that this tournament and many like it bring to our state and to our local communities andPutnamCounty; the impact is just incredible,” she said. “The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission understands what bass fishing does for the state ofFlorida, and how important [bass fishing] is, and how important it is to work with our partners like B.A.S.S. to keep these fisheries open and pristine and to keep growing bigger bass.”

B.A.S.S. will bring four tournaments toFloridain the first couple months of the season. The kickoff event, a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open, was on the Harris Chain of Lakes in January. On the heels of last week’s St. Johns River Elite event will be the March 22-25 Power-Pole Slam onLake Okeechobee. Then, March 28-30, another Okeechobee event, the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Divisional, will make it four forFloridaso far this year.

Rookie field showed big at St. Johns Elite event
: Jamie Horton isn’t your typical rookie, but he’s learning like one.

Horton got to the Bassmaster Elite Series as the winner of the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship of 2011. He’s a veteran of many a bass battle at the grassroots level, and he’s a two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier.

“I have a hard time considering myself a rookie, but I guess I am,” the 44-year-old said.

But even Horton said that when his first Elite event ended last week, he looked at the top level of pro fishing in a new light.

“I feel like I’m learning again. Sometimes when you fish only around home, you stop learning,” said Horton, who lives in a small town in northwesternAlabama. “I have sight fished at home, but sight fishing inFloridawas unlike any I’ve ever done, so I feel like I learned a lot.”

Horton was a quick study. He started in 65th place, then climbed to 42nd and finished at 26th.

Going into the St. Johns River Showdown, Florida fishing was so new to Horton that he gave himself the goal of collecting one check between the two Elite events in Florida this month; with a 50th-place cutline, 26th was more than good enough to get a check.

“I’m satisfied with the decisions I made,” he said after Day 3 when he was knocked out of the competition. “I had a good tournament.”

Something else impressed him about the Elite Series. “Even though they are so competitive, all the guys are also so nice. That surprised me that they could be both,” Horton said.

As a group, the 2012 rookie class fared well. Cliff Prince, at 16th, turned in the best performance of all 10 rookies. Prince, 32, lives in Palatka and cut his fishing teeth on theSt. Johns, so he had the rare advantage of competing on his home water.

Brandon Card, 25, ofCaryville,Tenn., was the second-best rookie with his 21st-place finish. Casey Scanlon, 27, ofLenexa,Kan., ended at 45th after taking a tumble from 28th on Day 2.

The fifth rookie to make the event’s first cut was Kevin Ledoux, 33, of Choctaw,Okla.He was last man in under the cutline, and he did it by 1 ounce. The difference is taking home a paycheck for the event and having at least one more chance to move up in the standings.

Ledoux made a common rookie mistake: With only two fish for the day, he didn’t believe he could make the cut, so he did not stick around. He left the weigh-in site, his phone still stowed in his boat.

“I was in a mood,” he said. “Then I got back to the hotel and looked at my phone, I saw I had nine messages. Suddenly the worst day of my life turned into the best day of my life.”

The good feeling remained, even though another day didn’t help him much. He ended the tournament in 50th place, but he can forever claim a top-half in his first Elite event.

Combs the climber: Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, climbed a mountain in the March 15-18 St. Johns River Showdown.

From 46th place the first day, he pulled up to claim the third-place prize. Of the Showdown’s Top 12, Combs can claim biggest-mover bragging rights (although Terry Scroggins’ vault from 35th on the first day to sixth on the last was also dramatic).

Combs tried Lake George on the first day with the solid yet unremarkable result of 12-6 for 46th place.

Decision time: He moved to the small lake that he had fished in 2011 to finish ninth. This year’s result was 16-7 for 20th.

And then he really dug in. On the third day he had a 21-10 bag with a 9-9 anchor. Day 4 he brought in another big bag, 22-1. All were taken off beds with a Strike King Shim-E-Stik in green pumpkin, he said.

Two arm-busting bags still left him 4-7 behind winner Alton Jones and 2-10 in back of runner-up Todd Faircloth.

“I needed one more big one. I felt like if I could have culled my 2-pounder, then I would have had a shot at winning,” said Combs, whose tournament total was 71-2.

Two Top 12s in as many seasons can be best explained by his Texas training, he said.

“I think it’s the same as with Alton and Todd,” Combs explained. “We grew up fishing the same Texas lakes, like Toledo Bend, in a lot of one-day spring tournaments. To win those, you have to sight fish. It’s the same thing here in the spring. You’d better be sight fishing or, if you’re not, you’d better be after bedding fish you can’t see.”

2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsor: BOOYAH, Carhartt, Lowrance, Luck “E” Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada

2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival

About B.A.S.S.

For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications – Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times – comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.


More like this