Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2011 06:51
April 20, 2011
The past three years the tournament circuit I fish has visited Virginia’s Lake Anna in mid-April, the one time of year that I enjoy fishing what many Virginians malign as the The Dead Sea. The fish are moving up shallow to spawn, pleasure boat traffic is low, and I can usually catch a limit.
Unfortunately for me, my limits over the past three years have been remarkably (and underwhelmingly) uniform: 8.15 lbs. in 2009, 7.86 lbs. last year and 8.14 lbs. last week. Mediocrity, I have found you. If Emerson’s statement that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” is accurate, then my peanut-sized noggin must be absolutely swimming in just about any hat I put on come tournament morning.
I’m hoping we’ll be back next year – same time, same place, same channel – and that I’ll have the testicular fortitude to spend my practice time looking for something different, in different places. If I were to try that and fail, could I still feel good about the effort?
Last Updated on Monday, 18 April 2011 09:59
April 18, 2011
In 1978, Rod Stewart asked the question, "Do ya think I'm sexy?"
Clark Reehm was not yet born in 1978, so he may not be aware of the query posed by Mr. Stewart (as the NY Times would call him), but if Clark were to ask it today, my answer would be "absolutely not." He's just not my cup of Elite Series tea, not that there's anything wrong with that. To the best of my knowledge, the one person on earth who does find Clark sexy is his girlfriend Stephanie, as well she should.
Still, when you look at this spinnerbait, anyone who's been around bass fishing for a while know that the color pattern just screams SEXY.
In the summer of 2008, his rookie season on the Elite Series tour, Clark spent a week at my house in between tournaments. In addition to learning that he can grill a mean steak, I learned that a pickup truck and Skeeter boat can carry more tackle than any two Bass Pro Shops combined. He emptied out box after box after box of tackle -- gobs of crankbaits, muskie swimbaits still in the package, enough plastics to film "The Graduate" ten times over -- and spread it out all over the driveway and the garage.
One item that he left behind was this namesake spinnerbait, "Th' Reemer" from SOB Lures. Say what you will about the name they chose for it, this is a pretty sweet bait. It hangs on my wall of fame in the garage. One day, when he wins an Elite Series tournament, I will not put it on eBay, but hopefully he'll take that $100,000 check, buy another truckload of tackle, and leave some more of it at my house.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 09:36
April 13, 2011
If you include the Classic, there have been four Elite Series events this year. What do they all have in common? They’ve all seen the rich get richer. I don’t necessarily mean “rich” in the financial sense, although the six-figure paychecks might lead you to think so. Instead, the term is intended to connote that all of this year’s winners – KVD, Shaw Grigsby, Edwin Evers and Davy Hite have been there before.
KVD: 20 BASS wins, 21 Bassmaster Classic appearances, 4 Classic wins.
Grigsby: 9 BASS wins, 13 Classic appearances.
Evers: 6 BASS wins, 10 Classic appearances.
Hite: 8 BASS wins, 13 Classic appearances, 1 Classic win.
That’s not to say that the Grant Goldbecks, Pat Goldens, Keith Poches and JTodd Tuckers of the world haven’t made a valiant run at punching an early ticket to next year’s Classic. They just haven’t gotten the job done yet.
Is it easier to win again after you lose your BASS victory virginity? Gerald Swindle, who earned his first BASS win in a Southern Open earlier this year, would like to think so. Maybe wins are like pickles – getting the first one out of the jar is a bear, but after that it’s easy.
Then again, it could just be that the guys who win manage to do so because they’re good at closing the deal. VanDam has nearly twice as many BASS victories (20) as runner-up finishes. He, of course, is an outlier in more ways than one. Even in the rarified air of 2011 winners, he stands out: Evers has one more victory than second place finish (6 to 5); Hite has an equal number (8 apiece) and Grigsby is one short in the win column (9 versus 10).
If you go back to last year, the final seven tournaments of the Elite Series season were all won by former BASS winners – (in reverse chronological order) Tommy Biffle, KVD, Jason Williamson, Skeet Reese, Kevin Short, Skeet again and Byron Velvick. You have to go all the way back to Velvick in the second event of the year to find one who hadn’t won at the Elite Series level, and you have to go back to the first event of the year to find one who hadn’t won with BASS, John Crews.
To take it one step further, you have to go back to the last event of the 2009 season, when Chad Griffin won at Oneida, to find an Elite Series winner who had not previously fished a Bassmaster Classic. I believe the last one to do that before Griffin was Jeremy Starks, who won at Wheeler in June of 2008, beating VanDam by half a pound. Of course, Griffin and Starks have yet to fish a Classic and VanDam has won two of them since either of them won anything with BASS. That would change if they were to win an event this year – and while the “any given Sunday” mentality applies to bass fishing, the odds still seem to favor those anglers who’ve finished the job in the past.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 08:20
April 12, 2011
The first article I wrote for a national fishing publication was entitled “Aaron Martens Uncensored.” It gave a minute-by-minute account of Aaron’s performance on Day One of the 2004 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Wylie, and it was accepted by then Bass West editor Jon Storm in August of 2004 – which meant that due to BW’s “unique” publication schedule it was published about 2 or 3 years later. If you want to read an issue of BW in the month in which it’s supposed to be printed you’d better have access to Doc Brown’s DeLorean.
After watching Martens fish that day and listening to him explain his brilliant but occasionally incoherent theories on bass behavior and tackle, I was firmly in his camp, a true Kool Aid drinker, but I didn’t have a chance to work with him at either the 2005 or 2006 Classics, when I was still making an effort to get published in additional magazines and web venues. But in June of 2006, my friend Aaron Hobbs asked me to help out with a Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation event on the Potomac River – they were going to pair up a bunch of the Elite Series pros with Congressmen and their staffers for a mini-tournament aimed at showing the high-and-mighty what a tremendous resource they had in their backyard. I was there to shuttle Congressmen to and from the bass boats as their real business allowed. While I don’t think any high-level policy discussions ensued, it appeared that a good time was had by all.
Martens was one of the pros who participated that day and after the lunch portion of the event, I loaded my boat on the trailer and pulled it up into the parking lot where he and several other pros were yapping and working on tackle. I pulled out a bait that I had been catching a lot of fish on over the past month or so and showed it to him – and to my great surprise Mr. Tackle hadn’t seen it before. He asked if he could buy one from me. I wasn’t about to take his money, but I wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass, either, so I quickly suggested we make a trade. Knowing that he was sponsored by Megabass, an addiction I had not yet sampled, I asked what he had to offer in the way of topwaters. He pulled out the Giant Dog-X pictured here and the deal was done.
Since that time, I’ve bought several more Giant Dog X’s, in other colors. To tell you the truth, this is not a color pattern that I’d pick off the shelf, particularly not at $20+ a pop, but for some reason, day in, day out, this one catches fish under the widest variety of circumstances. The finish has been worn down pretty hard and the hooks have been replaced multiple times, but it’s still deadly. I’m a firm believer in getting bargains and spending less when you can, but this is one lure that walks the high-dollar dogwalk – and this one in particular seems to have a little extra AMart mojo.
April 7, 2011
Since I have a tendency to do certain things bass-ackwards, it may not surprise many of you that my wife and I chose a wedding date and site before we were actually formally engaged. I had decided that I was going to ask her in early 2005 and reserved the pimp suite at a nice bed and breakfast to celebrate. With the ring in hand, I chose the specific proposal date so that it wouldn’t conflict with an upcoming trip to Guntersville. She said yes, we celebrated, the following week four of us left for Guntersville – mission accomplished. Sometimes things work out the way they're supposed to.
Near the end of my group's stay at the Big G, the Bassmaster Tour pros rolled into town (2005 was the year before the dawn of the Elite Series). We made contact with friend OT Fears, who informed us that he’d hauled a ton of crawdads with him and that Peter T would be cooking them up that evening. Were we interested in joining them (and Kenyon Hill and Mark Tucker) for some bugs? The four Virginians in our crew couldn’t drive down to their cabin at the state park fast enough. Other than hearing one of Dion Hibdon’s sons throwing up his chow all over the cabin bathroom (apparently the result of too much milk and too many craws), it was an awesome dinner.
As we finished up our grub, my good friend Bill Roberts told OT that I’d recently become engaged. “Hold on,” OT replied, scurrying away as fast as an Oklahoman full of crawdads can move. He went into his room, rummaged around, and came out with a still-with-tags signature series rod from Quarrow. [Side note: I believe Quarrow rods are no longer made. If you ever meet Kenyon Hill, ask him why.] It says on the label that it’s a worm rod, but I actually like it for fishing a quarter ounce spinnerbait or a fluke. It was the first engagement present that we received.
If nothing else, it’s just cool to know that I got the OT Fears model rod from OT himself. Kind of like getting a square bill directly from KVD. Or like having Tommy John operate on your elbow.
April 6, 2011
Just last week I blogged about my suspicion that Jared Lintner is one of the really good guys in the sport of bass fishing. Nothing concrete, but I could tell just from talking to him a few times that he’s genuine, easy going and down to earth.
Today I tuned in for the first day weigh-in of the Elite Series tournament and heard Kevin Wirth report that Jared saved his day – towed him in when he broke down, taking valuable time out of his fishing day. Still, he ended up with 23+ in his livewell.
Maybe this confirms my hunch or maybe Jared was just trying to live up to his reputation. Somehow, I’m pretty sure it was the former.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 08:16
April 6, 2011
In the Fall of 2006, I attended a business meeting in New York City with a group of people that included Kevin VanDam. Some of you may have heard of him by now, but back then he wasn’t quite so famous, with only two Classic wins and three Angler of the Year titles under his belt.
Anyway, spending some time with him that day gave me the opportunity to ask if I could prefish with him at the Elite Series tournament that was coming up on the California Delta. He agreed and I ended up spending the full three days of practice fishing and learning from the back of his boat. The business deal didn’t work out, but I’d say that the unintended consequences of my NYC trip were pretty damn worthwhile for this outdoor writer.
In between New York and the Delta, KVD participated in the 2007 Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’s Lay Lake. While he eventually won a Classic there in 2010, he finished a “mere” third three years earlier. That would be a career-changing performance for many anglers, but by his lofty standards it was “ho hum” at best. What wasn’t “ho hum” was the lure that he unleashed on an unsuspecting angling public that week – the Strike King Red Eye Shad. At first glance it appeared to be just another in a long line of cookie-cutter lipless cranks, but as he explained in the TV coverage and to any media outlet that would listen, what distinguished it was its shimmering fall, almost like a Senko.
There was about a month between the Classic and the Delta tournament and I don’t believe the Red Eyes had made it to market yet, at least not in any appreciable numbers. We spent much of the practice period fishing soft plastics, but on the third day he handed me a Red Eye and asked me to fish it through certain areas he was spinnerbaiting. I did and I caught some fish on the well-used bait pictured here. I used it a few times after that event, but eventually decided to retire it as a display item or memory piece. After all, some of the teeth marks on it are from fish caught by KVD himself. I can only wonder if they knew when their jaws were jerked that they’d been hooked by the greatest angler of all time.
April 5, 2011
Last week I received a package in the mail from Gary Klein (yes, that Gary Klein) containing a sampling of products from www.FISHBOSS.com, a new business that he and road roommate Cliff Pace are working to build. Both are incredible perfectionists and tackle tinkerers – “students of the sport,” I think they’d both agree – and even though they’re twenty-something years apart in age they’ve bonded over a common approach to the sport.
I’ve not yet ridden in the boat with Cliff, but I was Gary’s media observer on the first day of the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh. He hadn’t practiced at all due to a late ruling that he was eligible for the event, but he proceeded to figure out a pattern that I believe produced more total fish catches that day than any other angler. Granted, most of them were less than 12 inches long, which was typical in that tournament, but he still put on a clinic and I was there to watch him unlock the puzzle.
This FISHBOSS concept is that they’ve made available the components to build the perfect lures, the kinds that they’ve always wanted but couldn’t get through conventional channels.
This got me thinking. What other products or items have I received (or borrowed or stolen) from famous fishermen? Going through the boat and the garage I realized that there are more than one or two. Accordingly, this is the first in a series that will last until I exhaust that list. It may pop up again occasionally as new stuff arrive via my best friends, the UPS guy and the FedEx dude.
Nothing here is an admission of illegal activity, even if it is.
Don’t hate me because my stuff is cooler than yours.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 October 2011 05:45
March 31, 2011
I forget where I read it, but a few years back I saw an unverified-but-believable article which said that in the early years of MTV, corporate executives did not produce any MTV merchandise because there was too much to be lost – the sight of one nerdy, fat, pimply kid picking his nose in an MTV t-shirt would do more harm to the brand than could be offset by a couple of navel-baring beauties bumping and grinding in MTV garb.
Of course MTV has backtracked on that policy, as evidenced by the easy-to-find online MTV official merchandise store (so easy-to-find that I don’t need to provide the URL). They seem to do lots of waffling over time, as evidenced by the fact that the music videos upon which they built their brand can no longer be found on their channels (which is — capital “I” — Ironic in the way that Alannis intended but did not convey).
So this brings me back to my minor obsession with boat wraps and their value. Does their proliferation across the board make them less effective?
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2011 07:45
March 31, 2011
Back in April of 2008, when this blog was still in its infancy, I wrote an entry about three pros who I suspected would be fun to fish with even if fishing sucked – in other words, nice guys who didn’t take themselves too seriously. While many if not most of the pros at the tour level are basically good guys, there’s a normal sprinkling of undesirables, too. The three pros I identified that day – Charlie Hartley, James Niggemeyer and Mike Auten – were the counterbalances to the few jerks who sully the sport.
I didn’t take the concept beyond that short posting at that time, but now, almost exactly three years later, I’m ready to update it.
No, I’m not going to tell you that one of those guys is a jerk. To the best of my knowledge, they’re all still super-nice. Instead, I’m going to add to the list of genuine good dudes out there. Our two newest entries are Jared Lintner and Pete Ponds. I’ve never fished with either one of them – although I’d like to spend some time on the water with both – but I can just tell that they’re professional yet down to earth. I’d never worked with Ponds until this past fall, but he went out of his way to make my job easier. I hadn’t interviewed Jared in over a year, but when I spoke to him last week it was once again immediately obvious that he’s humble, level-headed and easy going.
Don’t expect me to disclose the list of guys who’ve been genuine tools to me, but after the occasional round of cynicism in this space, I thought it was important to devote some ink (or pixels) to a couple of the good guys.