The voting’s over. The fans have told us who they want to see in the postseason. I didn’t make it, but I want to say thanks to everyone who voted for me. Your support means more than you know. I also want to say thanks to every fan who cast a ballot, no matter who it was for. Without fan participation, our sport would amount to absolutely nothing.
The anglers who did make it — Mike Iaconelli, Gerald Swindle, Skeet Reese, Aaron Martens — earned their places. They’re all first-class anglers. Once again, the fans showed us they know what’s going on out there. Each of the four guys is a Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Ike and Skeet are Classic champions. Those of us who didn’t fish our way in by finishing in the top eight will be well represented at the Toyota Trucks All-Star Week.
If there’s any way you can make it and watch the action onsite, I strongly encourage you to do so. The very best anglers professional fishing has to offer will be there. And, with so much on the line, you can bet they’ll pull out all the stops to take home the grand prize. This series of events isn’t so much about money as it is about prestige and bragging rights. I don’t have to tell you what that does to an angler’s will to win.
All the guys will fish on Lake Shelbyville in Illinois on Thursday, September 20 and Friday, September 21. After that, the field will be cut to four anglers. They’ll fish the Evan Williams Bourbon Championship on Lake Decatur on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.
I’ll be spending most of that week getting ready for the last Open of the season on Smith Lake in Jasper, Ala. I think I’ll go there and look around. You know, see what there is to see. I’d like to do really well, and the only way I know to do that is to work really hard. You can’t kid yourself about any tournament. The competition is always stiff. If you let your guard down, someone, or a whole bunch of anglers, will whip your tail.
Smith Lake will also make me a triple qualifier for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. That’s something I’m really proud to have accomplished. I don’t know an Elite Series angler who takes qualifying for the Classic lightly. We all know that a bad day, or maybe even a single fish that comes unbuttoned, can make the difference between qualifying and not qualifying. There isn’t much daylight between winning and finishing as an also-ran.
Once that tournament is over, I’ll put together some of my best tips for fishing grass and maybe a couple that’ll apply to other types of cover and structure. I can’t say I know it all because I don’t. I can say, however, that I’ll be glad to share what I do know.