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Of the 102 high school and college teams that participated in the no entry fee, prize rich Quantum Next Generation Open event on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, crankbaits were among the most popular choice of lures. And whether cast into shallow muddy water uplake, or dredged deep in the southern end’s clearer water, treble hooked diving plugs of both varieties eventually proved victorious.  

The high school team of Noah and Micah Belt caught the highest winning weight overall with 17 pounds 8 ounces using Tennessee Shad colored shallow diving sqaurebill crankbaits tied to 12-pound Seaguar line. 

“This is incredible. What an awesome event! Our family drove three hours up here to Grand from home, and rented a house on the lake to have sort of a vacation around the tournament, and to win is just unbelievable,” says Noah Belt, whose dad Lloyd served as their boat captain.  

In great contrast, the highest winning weight posted by a college team was 13 pounds 8 ounces from much deeper cleaner water by Blaine Timonera and Colton Harper of the University of Oklahoma, who caught their fish in nearly 20-feet of water on a Strike King 6XD crankbait. 


This fast growing event begins Saturday evening with a registration meeting featuring truckloads of free pizza, a chance to visit with pro angler Matt Lee, and a pitching contest. And by its conclusion on Sunday, nearly every team walks away with incredible prizes from Carhartt, Costa, Garmin, Honey Creek Tackle Store, Lowrance, PowerPole, Plano, Yamaha, and Quantum.  

“As somebody who came up through the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, it just blows my mind how incredible the prizes are at this event, and the whole thing is just so well run and organized. It’s just awesome,” says Matt Lee. 

The large team of Zebco Brands employees who graciously volunteer to organize this popular event are already making plans for the 2019 edition of the fast-growing tournament, and encourage all young anglers to follow Quantum.Fishing on Instagram for more details. 

  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Balay Hartman


Gerald Swindle is professional bass fishing’s funniest man, and one of only 11 men in history to win the prestigious Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points title more than once. Swindle is also a former 3-sport athlete from Locust Fork High School in Alabama, and he took time just before blast-off Friday morning to talk bass fishing and football.


 Q: As a professional angler, you’re your own head coach and quarterback on the water. What was your best ‘play call’ yesterday?

 Swindle: I’d say it was my decision to keep moving around as much as possible on this little 7,000-acre reservoir. Not staying in one spot very long.


Q: When it comes to rods, reels, and lures – who were your most valuable players on Day 1?

 Swindle: A Quantum Smoke HD baitcasting reel with a large spool full of 30-pound braided line to help me cast a Rapala topwater walking bait a long way, and a Shaky Head on a Quantum 6’ 10” Vapor spinning rod were my two star players yesterday.


Q: September is one of the toughest months of the year for bass anglers throughout much of the Southern U.S. – give fans some advice on how to beat bass fishing’s “September Blues.”

 Swindle: No matter how hot the weather may be during the day, just remember, the nights are getting cooler, and that means there’s always going to be a few more bass moving shallow each day. So don’t give up on the shallow bite, and also expect to take advantage of schooling fish with a topwater in September too.


Q: You started fishing about half-a-football field away from the official tournament launch ramp yesterday, will you start there again today?

 Swindle: Yep, because I know that a lot of local tournaments release bass from this ramp, so I’m not ashamed to fish for bass that have already been caught, I’m just putting myself in a high-percentage patch of water to start the day.

Q: What was your best position as a high school football player for the Locust Fork Hornets?

 Swindle: I played a little bit of everything, but cornerback was probably my best position.


Q: Will the Alabama Crimson Tide go undefeated this season, and win another National Championship?

 Swindle: Yes.


Q: Baker Mayfield helped the Cleveland Browns get their first win in 635 days last night. What do you think about that?

 Swindle: Yea, I saw that, but I’m still not a Mayfield fan.


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

J-Proz” previews AOY at Lake Chatuge

September 18, 2018 12:00:00 AM EDT

The 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series season concludes this week with the crowning of a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Champion on gorgeous Lake Chatuge Reservoir in the ountains of Northern Georgia, on the North Carolina border.

 It’s a small body of water where the Elites have never competed previously. But Quantum pro Jacob Powroznik who has had one heck of a year, and sits inside the Top 10 of the prestigious season-long points race, graciously helps fans grow a little more familiar with the postcard perfect patch of water with a deep Cherokee heritage.


 Q: Jacob, paint a picture for angling fans to give them a feel for how Chatuge sets up as a bass fishery.

 J-Proz: It’s surrounded by mountains and it’s awesome looking. The water is pretty clear, but not super clear. There will be guys who fish in a wide range of water depths here. The surface temp is still hot at 82 degrees; so it’s pretty much a summer pattern, with a lot of surface schooling activity as largemouth and spotted bass chase both shad and blueback herring.

 Q: Tell us about the structure and habitat.

 J-Proz: Man, you’ve got tons of red clay points, plus brushpiles, and docks. It’s gonna be “all out, game on” – guys will be running around doing a variety of things from really shallow, to pretty deep.

 Q: This reservoir is a really pretty place, but it’s only 7,000 surface acres, which is very small compared to most Elite Series playing fields, will pros be crowded, or is there plenty of water for everybody?

 J-Proz: Nah, it’s gonna be crowded. Here’s the deal, I can run my Ranger from one end of Chatuge to the other in about 8 minutes, but it does have plenty of shoreline habitat to cast at in between.

 Q: Compare this reservoir to places where the Elite Series has fished before.

 J-Proz: It looks a lot like Lake Martin in Alabama where we kicked-off this season way back in February. And it shows a little bit of resemblance to Buggs Island where B.A.S.S. used to go back in the day.

 Q: Rattle of a list of lures we’ll see pros throwing this week on Chatuge.

J-Proz: Shaky Head, drop shot, topwater, and swimbaits

 Q: When the green flag drops on Thursday morning, how’s it going to fish?

 J-Proz: Well, it’s no secret that surface schooling activity is key here, especially early. So you’ll see guys pick-off a keeper or three, then maybe hit a lull for an hour or two, then go do something different and catch a couple more. It’ll be sort of wide-open. But I think 14 pounds a day here will get you a really high finish – and you might even win if you have 14 pounds a day. 


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

It’s easy to love Matt Lee

August 24, 2018 12:00:00 AM EDT

I knew the first time I borrowed Matt Lee’s bathroom inside the college rental home he shared with a handful of other anglers on Auburn’s campus that I was dealing with a special dude.

 Oh sure, there were empty pizza boxes on the kitchen counter, bass fishing posters stuck on the wall, and copies of Bassmaster Magazine tossed on the coffee table, but just beyond the upper level engineering text books in his bedroom, were Post-it notes stuck to his bathroom mirror. They contained Bible verses the 2013 Carhartt College Series Bassmaster Classic qualifier had written to remind himself how his young life should be best lived.

 That was nearly six years ago, and I’ve had the good fortune of working with Matt Lee ever since. So seeing him vault to the top of the Bassmaster Elite Series leaderboard here on the St. Lawrence River with a nearly 28 pound limit of record-setting smallmouth became special on a personal level.

 Frankly, the dude is easy to cheer for. He loves Jesus. Still makes notes of his Bible readings. Holds dual engineering degrees from Auburn. Wears Carhartt britches. Fishes with Quantum reels. Tows with a cool Toyota Tundra. And he love, loves, loves to pick on me. I mean straight-up makes fun of me, right to my face.

 The guy is a class act and a joy to work with. He always returns texts and emails. He grants fantastic, articulate interviews. Heck, he knows more about the science of social media than 83% of the marketing folks I know. Maybe 84%.

 Plus, he has a smoking hott new wife with an RN degree, who might be smarter than him. His in-laws think he invented the Internet, ranch dressing, and fantasy football. And amid his convictions, still lives a man willing to drink a 96-calorie beer and sing Kenny Chesney’s, “Flora-Bama” aloud in a really bad harmony.

 All that while constantly wearing an insulin pump strapped to his hip. “It’s really not a big deal when you think of the way worse problems other people have,” he’ll tell you about the pump.

 See why I love the guy? And I’m not the only one. Just ask bass fishing’s funniest man, 2-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Gerald Swindle about Matt Lee.

 “Let me tell you something about Matt – he may be the shortest Elite Series pro on tour, but along with Terry Scroggins, he may have the biggest heart out here too,” says Swindle. “And as an angler, Matt is underrated, overshadowed, and deadly. He’s a freakin genius when it comes to using his electronics,” warned Swindle en route to a boat launch port-a-john with a pocket full of Dude Wipes just before Day 2 blast off.

 Heck, even Matt Lee’s mother-in-law loves him. “If I’d have tried to find a better man to marry our daughter Abby, I’ll promise ya, I’d have messed the whole thing up,” grins Cindy Myrex, a real estate agent on gorgeous Smith Lake, Alabama. “Matt is very genuine. He puts God first in he and Abby’s new marriage. He’s fun no matter what we’re doing as a family. There’s no drama with Matt Lee. I tell Abby if she ever decides to leave him – I’m staying with Matt,” she laughs.

 But this week, everybody is together in Waddington. Cindy actually flew into Syracuse from Northern Alabama just in time to see her son-in-law soar to the top of the Day 1 leaderboard.

 Now all she can do is keep Abby from looking at BASSTrakk dozens of times each day, and take comfort knowing that a lot of people are cheering for Matt, who believes as much as all of us that his life is under the guidance of something way bigger than a smallmouth’s willingness to bite his drop shot rig.

 Just check his Post-it notes. 


  Alan McGuckin


Posted By Lisa Adams

As a tight end for the Dixie Hornets in rural South Carolina, 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champ Casey Ashley didn’t get to touch the ball much.

 “We ran the wishbone all the time, so my job was to block,” says Ashley. “Every team in the county knew what play we were gonna run next, but the tough part was stopping us.”

 After two full days of practice at the 2018 Huk Bassmaster Elite on the St. Lawrence River separating New York and Canada, Casey has already had his hand on several footballs -- big, fat, bronze colored footballs with fins, better known as smallmouth bass.

 “I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve already touched a handful of smallies over 4-pounds, and I think a whole bunch of other pros probably have too,” grinned Ashley. “I actually think the fish have gotten bigger on the St. Lawrence since we competed here last summer.”

 The Quantum pro had no problem putting his guitar picking paws around a Wilson football on the shores of the Chippewa Bay boat ramp, however, getting ahold of the St. Lawrence’s beefy smallmouth has been far more challenging.



 “I’ll put it to you this way, there were a few fish I tried to grab here in practice that were way too strong, and way too thick to get a handle on. You may not catch tons of fish here, but I’ll promise you, when you get a bite, there’s a real good chance it’ll be a ‘football’.”

In much the same way the Dixie Hornets didn’t disguise their offensive tendencies, Ashley doesn’t hide his love of the St. Lawrence River.

 “I love this place, because even though I consider here and Lake St. Clair to be the two greatest smallmouth fisheries we compete on, this place also offers some pretty strong largemouth fishing too,” says Ashley.

 Last year, Ashley notched a Top 12 here with a mixed bag of smallmouth and largemouth. Now, with four Quantum size 30 spinning reels and nine baitcasting reels on the front deck, it’s obvious he’s sampling a wide range of the diverse habit offerings on this primary shipping channel connecting the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

 And as for Ashley’s favorite high school football memory from back in 2002… well, that’s pretty clear too. “We beat a team nobody thought we could. They were our archrival, Calhoun Falls, and they had a running quarterback we nicknamed ‘White Shoes’ – man, that sucker was fast,” grinned Ashley, still shaking his head with admiration 16 years later.

 Maybe even faster than a 5-pound St. Lawrence “football” screaming drag from a spinning reel on 7-pound test, perhaps. 


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

 Alabama anglers Matt Lee and Gerald Swindle are facing the same flooded and muddy Upper Chesapeake Bay as 106 other Bassmaster Elite Series pros, but on the eve of competition, both offered an admirable attitude of perseverance, and a bit of humor too.


 Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen floating in the floodwaters this week?

 Matt Lee: I made a few pitches at a PetSmart shopping cart.

Swindle: I saw a matching set of tires and rims, and you can bet I checked to see if they’d fit on my Toyota Tundra.



Q: What is one tip you can give fans at home for fishing high, muddy water?

 Matt Lee: Look for places where strong current forms an eddy in shallow water to cast your lure.

Swindle: Make your mind like an Etch A Sketch, start with a clear screen in your head every day. Don’t get mentally rattled about how bad the conditions are. Just keep moving.


Q: Name three lures we can expect to see the Elite Series pros use a bunch this week?

 Matt Lee: Spinnerbait, ChatterBait, and a Strike King Rage Cut-R worm.

Swindle: Green pumpkin Chatterbait, spinnerbait, and a black/blue Chatterbait.


Q: How much weight will an angler have to average each day to make the Top 12 cut on the final day here on the Upper Chesapeake?

 Matt Lee: 12.8 pounds per day

Swindle: 11 pounds per day


Q: Have you eaten any of the Chesapeake Bay’s famous blue crabs this week?

 Matt Lee: I have not, because my wife Abby is highly allergic to shellfish. But I love seafood, so maybe I can talk her into leaving a day earlier than me, and I’ll stay here and hammer down on some blue crabs.

Swindle: I have not, but Lulu made us some shrimp tacos the other night that were awesome!


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

VanDam catches a 15-pounder

July 25, 2018 12:00:00 AM EDT

 Kevin VanDam was the very last angler back to the boat ramp at the end of a brutally tough, rainy, high water, practice day on Tuesday at the Huk Bassmaster Elite at Upper Chesapeake Bay presented by Mossy Oak Fishing.

 Fact is, with hints of a beard and wind blown hair, he even looked a bit like an old man of the sea here where the famed smallmouth waters of the Susquehanna River meet the Chesapeake Bay in America’s Mid Atlantic region.

 But in typical VanDam fashion, his passion for fishing was still high, and the news he brought back to the dock was positive. Even on one of the more challenging days of his highly decorated career – VanDam still caught ‘em.

 By his estimation, he set the hook 60 or 80 times, a bunch of them weighed 6 to 12 pounds. They bit swimbaits, Sexy Dawgs, and even topwater frogs.

 His biggest fish of the day was a 15 pounder.

 There’s only one problem … VanDam was talking about striped bass, not largemouth or smallmouth.


 “When I saw them (striped bass) schooling, as tough as the bass fishing had been all day, I couldn’t stand not to take advantage of an opportunity to set the hook,” says the career long Quantum pro.

 “Shaw Grigsby and I sat on that massive school of stripers and absolutely wore ‘em out, to the point they pretty much wrecked all three hooks on my Sexy Dawg (topwater lure),” he grinned.

 Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) serve as the State Fish of Maryland, and travel between coastal saltwater to spawn in freshwater rivers like those that decorate the shorelines of this week’s Elite Series event at Havre de Grace, MD, barely northeast of Baltimore.

 As for the bass fishing, it’s tougher than Cal “The Iron Man” Ripken Jr.’s record of 2,632 consecutive major league games played, despite nagging injuries that are an apparent part of 21 seasons as a major leaguer.

 Nearly 12-inches of rain have fallen since the Elite Series pros started practice in the region where Oriole and Raven fans call home. South winds off the Atlantic are pushing against the muddy waters flowing hard from the north to debacle most all major creeks where largemouth bass reside.

 “Bites are far and few between here. It’s super tough,” says VanDam, who waded through floodwaters to back his Tundra down the ramp Tuesday.

 Bites are ‘far and few between’ unless you’re talking about striped bass, or as local anglers call them “rocks” or  “rockfish” – both nicknames that seem highly fitting for a fishery as tough as the high and muddy Upper Chesapeake this week.


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

 The Kiefer, Oklahoma Bass Fishing Team of Jeremy Tolle and Garrett Hale competed against 766 other young anglers through three hot days of mid-summer fishing on Pickwick Lake near Florence, Alabama before the field was cut to 31 teams for the final round, when they brought a massive 23 pound 9 ounce limit to the scales to win the TBF Student Angler Federation’s High School Bass Fishing World Championship.

 The likeable and talented young men caught their big 5-fish limit of largemouth, including a nearly 8-pound bass that vaulted them to victory, using Quantum S3 PT reels and a homemade green pumpkin/black 3/4-ounce football jig around shell beds located on Tennessee River channel ledges in 18 to 25’ of water. Tolle made the jig himself, and said they only had three left by tournament’s end.





“I make my own jigs because it allows me to show the fish some different skirt colors they may not be used to seeing, and it saves me money,” says Tolle, who has been obsessed with bass fishing since he was old enough to hold a rod and reel. “The really heavy 3/4-ounce jig allowed us to remain in contact with the shell beds on the bottom, and cause the kind of disturbance those big fish seemed to love.”

 Long casts, smooth retrieves, and speedy line pick-up were key to covering long stretches of river channel ledges, and Quantum’s new Smoke S3 PT reel in a 7.3:1 ratio SM100HPT served as the perfect tool according to Tolle’s teammate Garrett Hale. “That reel just casts so smoothly, and it’s a super dependable reel too,” says Hale.

 Along with two really tall trophies, the passion-rich high schoolers hauled home a variety of prizes in their boat captain Jeff Tolle’s Toyota Tundra along the 9-hour drive back home to Oklahoma, including large flat screen televisions, a Lowrance sonar/GPS unit, and $56,000 in scholarship offers from West Tennessee’s Bethel University should they choose to attend college there, and be a part of the tradition-rich Bethel Bass Fishing Team.

 For now, Tolle is calling the recent victory the best moment of his young life, and celebrating all the goodness of competitive high school fishing. “In high school bass fishing, you don’t have to worry about trying to win back your entry fees. You can just go fishing, have fun, get to know other anglers, and there are lots of cool opportunities that come from having a successful tournament.”

 Tolle is right, as he and Hale suddenly find themselves receiving a great deal of media attention, and even autograph requests from anglers barely younger than they are. Indeed it’s good to be a high school bass fishing world champion. 


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams


The greatest professional bass angler of all time got his start while casting topwater lures at summertime bass as a young teenager while walking the shoreline of School Section Lake where his grandparents lived in Central Michigan.

 Not much has changed in 40 years for Kevin VanDam. When asked recently to choose just two lures all anglers should consider having in their summer arsenal – he chose a topwater walking bait and a deep diving crankbait. 

 “Topwater was my thing back in those days, from Jitterbugs to buzzbaits, and now it’s a 4.5” KVD Sexy Dawg topwater that I’ve always got tied-on in summer,” says the 7-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “The thing is, no matter how hot it gets, there’s always a few bass shallow that are willing to hit a topwater at sunrise or sunset in the summertime.”

 One tip that might surprise a lot of anglers regarding VanDam’s topwater tactics is his insistence on always using 40-pound braided line. He says braid helps the Sexy Dawg ‘walk’ a little better on the surface, and even more importantly, leads to far firmer hooksets at the end of a long cast, as opposed to monofilament.

 VanDam spools his braided line to a fairly speedy 7.3:1 gear ratio Quantum Smoke S3 reel. The compact reel features a larger spool to hold more line that leads to longer smoother casts. He uses a 7’ 4” TourKVD rod with a soft and forgiving enough tip to make sure bass get a good grip and stay hooked when they smash his surface lure.

 As the day heats up, and topwater action is likely to fade, VanDam ties on a deep diving crankbait that has earned him hundreds-of-thousands of dollars – a Strike King 6XD that will dive to depths of 20-feet on 12 pound line.

 This lure allows the career long Quantum pro to dig depths on main lake points and deep aquatic vegetation where fat bass are likely to live in mid summer -- and to do so at a fairly efficient pace compared to a heavy jig or large plastic worm.

 In lakes where the water is pretty clear he likes the color “Blue Gizzard Shad” when cranking a 6XD – and if it’s dingier, he leans mostly on the color he made famous – “Sexy Shad.”

 Either way he ties them to a long 7’ 10” TourKVD rod that allows him to launch the lure as far as possible, which in turn maximizes its diving depth on the retrieve. And much like it’s tough to tow a large bass boat with a sports car, when deep cranking, he reaches for the Toyota Tundra of baitcasters – the large spooled 5.3:1 Quantum Smoke HD.

 VanDam no longer spends a lot of time walking the shores of School Section Lake casting Jitterbugs, but he absolutely loves sharing time on the water in the heat of summer away from the Elite Series by meandering various Michigan waterways in the family’s Regency pontoon. Of course, the pontoon is rigged to be fishing friendly for he and sons Jackson and Nicholas  – and there’s typically a topwater tied-on within arms reach, even when he’s just chillin to beat summer’s heat. 


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams


Casey Ashley caught a solid limit amid Thursday’s sweltering heat to sit near the top of the leaderboard. The always easy-going 2015 Bassmaster Classic Champ took a minute prior to Friday’s launch to talk about Lake Travis, Toyota Trucks, swimbaits, and even a mention of Texas native Willie Nelson.







Q: What was the biggest surprise amid Day 1 of competition here at Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest to benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department?

 Casey: The biggest surprise was that I actually caught a decent limit, because while you may catch 100 fish a day here, the randomness of catching a big one is truly an unknown.


 Q: Your biggest fish yesterday was a 4 pound 5 ounce largemouth. How did you catch it?

 Casey: I caught it on one of my absolute all time favorite lures – a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm rigged on a Casey Ashley Shaky Head from Greenfish Tackle.


Q: This week’s tournament is title sponsored by Toyota, and you’ve bought a bunch of Tundras. How many Toyota Tundras have you owned throughout your Elite Series career?

 Casey: I’ve bought five Tundras, and my daddy has bought two as well - so seven Tundras total between the two of us.


Q: You’re a music man. You recorded a demo CD in Nashville a few years back, and you’ve sang the National Anthem on a handful of occasions before blast-off at an Elite Series tournament. What song is stuck in your head this morning?

 Casey: Kenny Chesney’s “Lucky Old Sun” – which is pretty fitting for the hot weather we’re having here, and the fact it features Texas native Willie Nelson singing along with Kenny.


Q: Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest helps raise money that Texas Parks and Wildlife uses to fund urban youth fishing initiatives. You have a youth angler of your own – a 5-year-old son named Troy. Tell us about fishing with him?

 Casey: I’ve learned from taking Troy fishing that size and species don’t matter. It’s all about getting a bite. And still there are times when I can be catching one crappie after another, and he’ll still lose interest. So when they tell you they’re done, don’t make them stay, or you’ll ruin the experience.

 I will say here at Lake Travis would be a great place to take a kid fishing, because there’s so many fish in here. I’d just tie on a little 3” swimbait for him, and let him cast and wind it on a Zebco reel. And as many little 12 to 13” bass that swim here – I’ll promise ya he’d have a real good chance of catching one. 


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

Two of professional bass fishing’s classiest guys, Matt Lee, who is getting married in 16 days, and Kevin VanDam who has been married for 26 years, gladly took a break from the 95-degree sunshine in Central Texas to sit in the shade and answer a few questions about this week’s Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest to Benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that starts Thursday on Lake Travis.


Q: Lake Travis is super healthy and full of fish. What’s the most number of bass you caught in a single practice day here this week?

 Matt Lee: 30

 KVD: 75

 Q: Name two lures we’ll see Elite Series pros slinging on Lake Travis to try to catch a big fish that will go a long way in separating themselves from the pack?

 Matt Lee: Topwater and a swimbait

 KVD: Swimbait and a big creature bait

  Q: There’s a lot of clear water on Lake Travis. Will the front deck of your boat be more full of Quantum spinning reels, or baitcasting reels?

 Matt Lee: An equal mix

 KVD: Just about even.

 Q: When the scales stop spinning after Day 1 – how much weight would you guess the guy sitting in 20th place will have?

 Matt Lee: 16 pounds

 KVD: 16 pounds

 Q: The hilarious and talented B.A.S.S. photographer, James Overstreet wants to know, if you could only eat one species of fish, what would it be?

 Matt Lee: walleye

 KVD: yellow perch from the Great Lakes region 


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams

Tuesday morning marked the start of the second very long hot practice day on Lake Travis for the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife.

 Two of pro fishing’s most likeable, accomplished, and even-keeled veteran anglers, Mike McClelland and Kevin VanDam, launched next to one another in the humid predawn air, and say this gorgeous reservoir in the Texas Hill Country is very new to them, but also one they’re liking a lot, and feeling right at home on.

 “Yesterday was the first time I’ve ever fished here, and I like it a lot. It reminds me a lot of Table Rock in terms of the rocky terrain and all the rocky shoreline transitions,” says VanDam.

 “Yep, Kevin’s exactly right. It reminds me a ton of Table Rock too, as well as places like Bull Shoals and other Ozark reservoirs,” agrees McClelland. “Before I saw this place I envisioned it looking like Choke Canyon, maybe with vegetation like a lot of the great Texas fisheries we’ve been to, but it’s really more like Table Rock, or even a miniature Amistad.”

 “Fans can expect to see us use just about every lure imaginable this week – from soft plastics of every shape and kind, to crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits -- you name it – this event is one in which you’ll see ‘em all used,” says McClelland. 

 While both pros were their typically gracious selves, both were also jittery to start casting, knowing the early morning shad spawn was taking place as the sun began to rise over Travis’ clean waters that are currently about 78-degrees on the surface.

 “It’s that time of year, shad are spawning all over the southern half of the country right now, including here. So it’s time to get out there. I only practiced 13 hours yesterday,” winked VanDam, as he idled out for another long day of doing a job he’s loved for 28 remarkable seasons as a pro. 


  Alan McGuckin

Posted By Lisa Adams
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