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Great Times Ahead for All

Great Times Ahead for All It appears our sport has grown to a whole new level of fun and entertainment with no limits in sight! It’s going to be a great year for all of us.

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Matt Shura with his 5 lb largemouth that was waiting for him on our first spot. Caught on a white spinnerbait.

Matt Shura with his 5 lb largemouth that was waiting for him on our first spot. Caught on a white spinnerbait.

The inaugural Arizona Open in January was a total success and a great way to start the New Year! Won Bass now has 3 Opens. The next one is in April at Clearlake. These 3-day events are lots of fun.

   I thought the Lake Mead Open was fun, but I enjoyed the Open at Lake Havasu even more and here’s why. The host hotel was the Island Inn just on the other side of the London Bridge on the Island. It was a fantastic place to stay with great rooms, rates and boat parking. The best three restaurants in town were just a few blocks away at the London Bridge where Liz and I ate all our meals. It was only a 10 minute drive to the Windsor launch ramp where we met our pros each morning. The short drive for most of us allowed everyone to get more sleep. Lots of people camped in Windsor so that was a bonus.

   In between Windsor and the London Bridge is a great tackle and gun store…BassTackleMaster.com owned by John Galbraith who is also a bass pro and tournament director. You don’t have to wait until you go to Havasu to get good deals, just check out the web site.

   There were 77 boats and 154 anglers. We had our meeting and pairings in the beautiful showroom of Anderson Toyota who is the dominating dealership in Havasu. They are now sponsoring Roy Hawk who lives in Havasu.

   Roy is an old friend of mine dating back to when we fished together as pros in a Bassmaster event on my boat at Lake Oroville. If memory serves me right, we broke down and a passing angler took us both into weigh-in with our fish. We were late and heavily penalized, but I digress. This past year Roy excelled as a rookie on the Elites, and now he has joined the MLF Pro Bass Tour. He is definitely living his dream.

   I drew Roy the second day of the Havasu Open and caught our first smallmouth bass that went about 3 pounds. I caught it on Duo Realis lipless crankbait that Roy gave me. Duo is also one of my son’s (Aaron) primary sponsors and they make great baits.  

   Not only did I catch a beautiful smallmouth, but lots of quagga mussels too. Did you know they bite just like a bass and if you catch a colony of mussels they actually feel like a keeper when you reel them up?!

   It was exciting fishing with Roy because before he caught the 4 big smallmouths on the same lure as mine, he caught 7 stripers, a giant catfish, a huge carp by the tail, and a keeper gizzard fish! If we had been fishing in Florida he probably would have caught an alligator on it! Throughout the whole day Roy impressed me with his skills and patience. We stayed with his plan that paid off for both of us with a limit over 15 pounds.

Me and Mike Powell at the pairings. So happy we drew each other.

Me and Mike Powell at the pairings. So happy we drew each other.

   The first day I fished with Mike Powell. The first bass I caught was on, you guessed it, a Texas rigged 6-inch Morning Dawn Robo Worm. That was my only bite the whole day. However, Mike culled my keeper and put together a great limit of largemouth that weighed over 14 pounds. Fishing with Mike was a blessing because of his winning attitude, obvious skills and tournament preparation. We both got a great start and had a wonderful time doing it.

   On the third day I fished with Matt Shure. Matt is a familiar name among anglers because he fishes lots of tournaments and he’s a professional fishing guide. Matt is known as a drop shot specialist. Normally that’s how we would have caught them. But among lots of other techniques, the drop shot wasn’t working, otherwise we would have killed them!              

   The night before our final day of fishing, Matt told me he was on big fish first thing in the morning and was confident they would still be there. Overnight I had the distinct feeling that I shouldn’t fish until he caught his big fish, and instead just be ready with the net. That gut feeling comes from past experience when co anglers went against my plans and ruined everything by missing or breaking off fish.  

   Well sir, just after a few casts Matt caught his 5-pound largemouth on a spinnerbait, and a few minutes later, a 3 pounder. It was going to be a fabulous day….we thought.

   We both fished our guts out for hours after that and couldn’t get a bite to save our lives.  In the early afternoon I had a huge bite that broke off in an artificial habitat, and Matt was able to catch one more keeper. Our three fish weighed about 9 pounds.

   Matt still finished 10th place and I only slipped from 4th to 5th. I got a check for $1,255 and a beautiful crystal trophy for catching just two fish in three days. Mike Powell came in 11th and Roy Hawk was 13th. Todd Woods won the event with 61.95 pounds.

My Duo Realis crankbait with quagga mussel colonies.

My Duo Realis crankbait with quagga mussel colonies.

   Todd and I have also been friends for many years and have even fished a couple of tournaments together, both on Lake Mead. Before the tournament, Todd told me he will be retiring from the fire department this year. He plans to fish for exotic fish around the world beginning in New Zealand. Congrats to Todd and also to Joe Bolen who won the AAA Division with 47.62 pounds.

   My friend Liz never caught a fish during the three days. I don’t know anybody who prepares and plans more for a tournament than her. Even local guys who live there struggled to catch a bass, and that was a real bummer. So I couldn’t complain because I only caught two.

   It was probably the toughest bite ever. Many believe it was because of the unusually cold water. We have to believe it will be much better next year.  I’m thinking a drop shot bite and my Texas rig?

 

Looking Ahead  

As January came to a close, the first MLF Bass Tour launched in Kissimmee, Florida January 29th.  Not to be left behind, BASS has begun their new season with lots of new faces. The first Elite event was also held in Florida in February with 75 Pros. Many of the new faces have and will graduate to the Opens and Elites from the B.A.S.S. NATION, COLLEGE and HIGH SCHOOL SERIES.

   Because so many of the top anglers went to MLF, this has made it possible for the seasoned Elite anglers and the new comers to get more media coverage and attention, especially for their sponsors. Everyone who works hard and makes it to pro levels needs to be in the spotlight now and then, and I’m happy for them.

   It appears our sport has grown from being a popular national sport to a whole new level of fun and entertainment with no limits in sight! It’s going to be a great year for all of us.

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