I began the 21-hour journey home on Monday after a three-and-half week tour around the country doing promotions, working with media and competing in the Toyota Texas Bass Classic held last weekend on Lake Conroe. The Toyota Texas Bass Classic is one of the premier events in the country.
It's extremely well-run and is second to only the Bassmaster Classic as a great event for the anglers and fans. There were plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy, from concerts to exhibits and activities for the entire family. It also raises a lot of money for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The $250,000 donated from this year's event brings the total to $1 million raised through the efforts of Toyota, the tournament and the PAA (Professional Anglers Association). The tournament features the top 15 guys from the Bassmaster Elite Series of last season, the top 15 from the FLW Tour and the top 15 from the PAA Tour.
Toyota included five sponsor exemption slots for its anglers that didn't qualify, bringing the field total to 50. It was the very best anglers from each tour which made it a highly competitive event. I didn't have a great tournament but I had a lot of fun working with Toyota and Oakley, two of my sponsors. Thursday was a pro-am, and I fished with a couple of Toyota dealers who wanted to learn more about bass fishing.
We didn't catch a lot of fish, but when it was over, they got pretty good at casting and learning the basics of bass fishing. I had high hopes for the tournament when it began on Friday but lost some nice fish. They would have put me in a better position to make the Sunday finals; that's the way it goes sometimes. I haven't lost any big fish all year so I guess I was due.
I still caught about 12 pounds but there were quite a few guys who smashed them good, and I had a lot of ground to make up. I fished offshore structure last year, and then the lake turned over and the fish scattered. This year I focused on fishing shallow but later found out that the guys who caught them were fishing offshore. We had really tough, post-frontal conditions with blue skies and little wind, so my power fishing tactics didn't work as well. Most of the guys who did better knew the lake well and were fishing slow, using finesse tactics, which really aren't my style.
I was stunned, because the water was off-color and I really thought crankbaits, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits fished quickly around the shallows would be the way to catch them, but it wasn't. My hats are off to my Tracker Marine teammate Brian Snowden who won the event, beating out Michael Iaconelli by a little over a pound. Those guys fished a great tournament. Remember, it's all about the attitude.