I'm in Muskegon, Mich., right now for Toyota All-Star Week, and it's exciting. Everything's just a little different about this tournament. For one thing, the pre-tournament briefing room was practically empty since there are only 14 of us fishing. There's about the same amount of media as for our regular events, and it's mostly a lot of familiar faces.
To say that this is a tough field would be an understatement. The guys fishing here have numerous Bassmaster Classic, Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year and Elite Series titles. I'm proud to be part of this group.
Another way that All-Star Week is different is in the way we're practicing. We have to prepare for two bodies of water (Muskegon Lake and White Lake) and we've had just one day on each. For a regular Elite event, we have three days. Once you get used to the Elite schedule, you realize that three days is enough time to dial into what the fish are doing and where they are on just about any body of water. After just one day on each of these lakes, I feel about one-third dialed in.
For me, that means I'll fish Day 1 a little like I'm still practicing. Right now I have three areas that I feel good about, but that can change quickly. If I'm going to do well here, I have to be keenly aware of what's happening out there and be ready to jump to Plan B as soon as what I have stops working. I can't afford to hesitate. If I don't get away from it fast enough, I could lose a lot of time and fail to advance to the next round.
Only the top four anglers will advance to the Evan Williams Bourbon Championship on Sunday for a final shootout on White Lake. The other 10 are done. I definitely want to be one of the four.
Changing gears a little, I had a great time last week fishing with three basketball legends. I had a chance to fish a private lake with Baylor University head coach Scott Drew, his brother Bryce and their father Homer.
Homer Drew is one of just a few (less than 20) coaches to win 500 games at the Division I level. Most of his wins came at Valparaiso University, where he took the Crusaders to seven NCAA tournaments.
Bryce took over at Valpo for his dad in 2011 and made it to the second round of the tournament this year. These guys know their basketball and love the outdoors. It was a blast fishing with them.
Once All-Star Week is on the books, I'm headed back to Texas for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Conroe. It'll be good to get back home (though the weather is gorgeous here), and I always enjoy that tournament.