2011 Elite Series - Pride of Georgia West Point Lake - LaGrange, GA, May 5 - 8, 2011

Crowds, focus and big girl pants

James Overstreet
Alton Jones has displayed amazing focus in his pursuit of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

One event past the halfway mark in the Elite Series, and lots of things going on as you might imagine.  I’d like to touch on a few of them today as we all get ready for Lake Murray this weekend.

First of all, I’m done being amazed by the crowds at our weigh-ins.  It seems as though each stop has been better than the one before, with LaGrange, Ga., this past week topping them all.

Just before that we were in Many, La., and here’s a place that has a bass fishing event about every 30 minutes, so there’s no way thousands of people will show up to watch bass being put on the scale just because we’re there.

But they did, and that was the high water mark for the season until West Point Reservoir in Georgia came along.  They knocked it out of the park.

KVD came up to me at the end of one afternoon’s weigh-in and commented that he had never seen anything like the crowds and asked what I thought was happening.

Well, I guess I don’t really know, but I think that along with everyone working hard, the crowds are starting to be drawn to the Bassmaster Elite anglers.  These guys are becoming real stars, which is something our sport needs and everyone wants to see them. 

And here are a few words that tie back into the crowd stories. 

I think I’m not alone when I say that the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race is becoming quite compelling.

It may just be me, but I have never seen Alton Jones, the TTABOY leader, going into this week’s event on Lake Murray, so focused.  The best way I can describe Alton, both on and off the lake, is “solid.”

 Personal life – solid.  Bass angler talents – solid. And just when you think Terry Scroggins, KVD, Edwin Evers or a host of other anglers are about to jump him, he turns in a “solid” performance.

Alton hasn’t blinked all year and when I go up to say hey, he’s always courteous, friendly and with that A.J. smile.  But, I always feel like behind all that he’s saying, “I really don’t have time for you Jerry.  I’ve got the second biggest goal in bass fishing facing me.  I’ve already won the biggest goal (The Classic) now I can’t let this get away.”

I love that kind of a competitor and I hope I haven’t jinxed him.  The Angler of the Year trophy is such a big deal.

Like I said, Elite crowds are showing up at record numbers, because they want to see these anglers.  KVD, Alton Jones, Greg Hackney and on, and on. 

Another “don’t miss” Elite star is Gerald Swindle.  Wherever I’m at during the weigh-in I’m going to stop and watch Gerald come across the stage, because I, or no one else, knows for sure what this crazy bass fisherman is going to say. 

First day at West Point, Swindle had a pretty pitiful weight and he commented that if he had any chance to do better and make the cut the next day, he needed to put his “big girl pants on.”  Now don’t ask me what that means, but it’s definitely something Gerald Swindle would say. 

So, on Day Two I go behind the stage where the anglers are lined up to weigh-in and there’s Gerald with his bag of fish in the holding tank where I couldn’t see them. 

I wouldn’t have seen them anyway cause I was to fixed on his “big girl shorts.”  Lord were they ugly.  My first thought was “Oh my gosh, Gerald has fished in his pajamas.” 

They were chartreuse with black dots and they matched his tennis shoes.  His “big girl shorts” were just awful and I was about to comment on them, but at that moment he lifted his bag of fish out of the holding tank where you could see them.  It was one of the biggest weights of the day and kept him fishing all weekend.

“Gerald, wear anything you want.  The crowds love ya.”   

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