For the first time ever, I had the opportunity to attend the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe, just outside Houston, Texas (March 24 – 26). Representing Keep America Fishing, I was able to network with industry partners and connect with old and new friends.
On the second and third day of the Classic, I was able to work for my personal sponsor, Reelsnot line lubricant. It was a great experience to work my second show of the year with owner Noah Wheeler, as well as pro-staffers Rich vonNordeck and Ron Callibri. The experience was incredible and the support for Reelsnot was seen throughout the expo. I am blessed to have such a great team to promote and look forward to helping out with many more Classics to come.
Congratulations to Classic winner Jordan Lee. What an accomplishment for an angler at only 25 years old. Jordan came from 14th place to accomplish one of the biggest final day pushes in Classic history, and to top it off, the biggest bag of the tournament.
VA Elite 70: Lake Gaston
It seems as though the majority of the tournaments I have fished have been during or just after regional weather fronts. Lake Gaston was no exception. Fortunately, the weather held off for the majority of the day. Periods of overcast skies followed by short spurts of sunlight made up what was a successful day on the water.
Jim and I were unable to get on the board for the first few hours of the tournament, plagued with short fish. As the sun made an appearance, we were able to slowly tooth and claw for a limit of aggressive spotted bass. I have often found spotted bass around steep banks littered in rock and wood. I caught my personal best spotted bass, a catch I will not soon forget.
With little time to spare and needing a kicker fish, Jim and I continued up river to areas where Mr. Jarvis had had success in the past. Although losing a couple key fish, Jim and I were able to upgrade a few times, including Jim’s largest fish of the day, a lonely largemouth in a livewell full of spots.
With a full bag for 9.92, we were pleasantly surprised to know that it was a struggle for a much of the field. We accomplished our best finish thus far in the Elite 70, a thirtieth place finish that moved us up into 39th place over-all for the year. With the James River just weeks away, the hope is to continue our move up the season standings.
VA Elite 70: James River
The third stop of the VA Elite 70 on the James was met with tough tides, big waves and muddy water. With partner Jim Jarvis absent, I got the opportunity to fish with long-time friend James Plesinger. A former mentor to college partner Charles Parrish, I got to see many of the same techniques Charles had used to help us qualify for our first regional tournament on Lake Norman, NC.
With an incoming tide in the Chickahominy, we made the decision to run waters near Osborne Landing, scoring a first keeper of the day before heading south to finish our day on the Chickahominy River. Hitting a few places in between, we were able to fill out a small limit before the outgoing tide on the Chick. With recent rainfall, the tide was behind schedule and failed to fall as expected.
On the Chickahmony River, we focused on Cypress trees in the backs of Creeks. Casting to a dead tree in the middle of the water, I got hung up. As I waited for James to turn the boat so that I could break free, the biggest largemouth of the day snatched my snagged jig and flashed the surface. Failing to set the hook, I lost what would have been the game changer of the day. Casts later, I hooked up on another large fish. The fish unfortunately ran to the nearest brushpile, breaking me off for another tough loss.
We continued farther into the creek, and in the first few pitches, succeeded in boating an upgrade to finish the campaign.
Despite the unfortunate three above average fish break offs, it was great to learn from a seasoned angler, skills I will truly use going forward. Weighing in a five fish limit for 10.68, I can’t help but think about what could have been, but that’s fishing. Dropping from 39th to 45th in points, I hope for a big bag next month on the Potomac River.
Stay tuned as Jim Jarvis and I continue our attempts to climb the leaderboard against some of the best anglers in Virginia. Thank you as always to my great lineup of sponsors. Fishing with companies I truly believe in is a “reel” honor. Till next time, work hard to get better with each day on the water. Learn from your mistakes, and always push towards a greater understanding.