Staying busy in ‘offseason’

It may be the fall fishing season but it’s also a time when Elite Series pros are busy working with sponsors.

The past week was one of those for me, as I was in Charlotte, N.C., with the Toyota Tundra Bonus Bucks Owners Tournament before flying to Paris, Tenn. for the Strike King Writers Conference on Kentucky Lake.

Both events were fun and productive, plus there was a little fishing interspersed with mingling with Toyota Truck owners and members of the media.

But, man, it was a tight schedule. I flew to Charlotte, N.C., last Saturday to help kick off the Bonus Bucks tournament which is a great affair for bass anglers who own Toyota vehicles and have registered for the Bonus Bucks Program. They get to fish an entry-free tournament on Lake Norman where the top 30 finishers won cash prizes, including $5,000 to the winner. Every team got a gift pack that included a Quantum Smoke reel and Carhartt clothing.

The tourney drew 75 teams including anglers from all over the nation. I spoke with one team that drove 16 hours to participate!

The Toyota Tundra Elite Series team was there to meet the contestants at registration and talk with them afterwards. See photos.

After the registration and meet and greet, we went on a dinner cruise on Lake Norman. I was there the next morning for the blast-off and then enjoyed a few hours of fishing with Timothy Peters who drives a Toyota Truck in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

While at the Owners Tournament, I got a sneak preview of the “Ultimate Fishing Tundra” customized by Elite Series pro Britt Myers who also owns CS Motorsports, a vehicle customization company. Britt met with the Toyota fishing team six months ago and asked what features we’d like to see. The final product is stunning and truly makes for an ultimate tow vehicle. The truck will debut to the public at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show later this month and will appear at Elite Series events next year.

On Sunday afternoon, I jumped on a plane and flew to Memphis, where my nephew Stephen Gould met me with my truck and boat and we drove to Fish Tale Lodge at Kentucky Lake.

In addition to doing numerous interviews and photo sessions with media from around the country, the Strike King pro team members sat down with company officials to discuss new products and concepts for the future.

The cat is already out of the bag for one of those, the Strike King 10XD, a mega-deep crankbait that dives to 25 feet. The plan was to keep it under wraps until next year, but lure designer Phil Marks won a major tournament on Sam Rayburn, Texas, with a 10XD prototype that produced more than 30 pounds the last day of the tournament.

Because of his success and the timing, the 10XD was the buzz of the Media Conference so Strike King decided to roll it out ahead of schedule. Production models will be made available sometime this winter.

I drove home late Wednesday to spend a few days with the family before hitting the road again next week.

Remember: it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter

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