When you close a tournament like Tim Horton did at the Bluegrass Brawl two weekends ago, people are going to take notice when the next competition comes around.
Even if you have a very limited history on the body of water.
Horton boated 24 pounds, 10 ounces on the final day of the Bluegrass Brawl in Kentucky and also caught the biggest bass of the day (6-6.) The haul vaulted Horton into second place in the tournament, trailing only eventual winner Kevin VanDam by 17 ounces.
But Horton's only experience on Old Hickory Lake — the site of the Elite Series' Tennessee Triumph presented by Longhorn which begins Thursday — came seven years ago.
"I didn't do very well," he recalled.
A quick look at BASS' history on the lake reads like a Cliff's Notes version of the sport — short and sweet. BASS has been to Old Hickory four times since 1996, but the Elite Series has never visited the fishery. That means that quite a few of the anglers, if not the overwhelming majority of them, are coming into the Tennessee Triumph with an open mind.
Count Horton in that number.
"I don't think we'll see stringers like we have the past few tournaments," the Muscle Shoals, Ala., pro said. "But the thing I like about this tournament is you can win fishing docks, you can win fishing shallow wood, you can win fishing shallow vegetation and you can win on the drops. I like the idea of having a level playing field where you can do whatever best fits your style."
So what exactly does that mean for Horton?
"I'm going to go out there and take a look at the water color," Horton said. "If it's a little stained, I probably will stay more shallow. If it's clear, I'll go deeper. Then it's just a matter of getting bites. There are no preconceived notions."
And what does he think his Elite Series peers will do?
"Same thing," he said. "On the first day of practice, I think you'll see a lot of people looking around. Then toward the end of practice, we'll start narrowing it down."
This tournament, the ninth stop on the 2008 Elite Series, was supposed to take place on the Mississippi River near Ft. Madison, Iowa. BASS officials were forced to move the tournament to Old Hickory, however, after devastating floods in Iowa wrecked entire towns.
Horton said the people in Iowa have been on his mind and the minds of many other Elites.
"We have been talking about Iowa and were looking forward to it because we've heard what a great fishery it is," he said. "I hope when things get right there, we can go and experience it."
Horton said the unexpected shift from one venue to another shouldn't effect any of the anglers.
"These guys are so good, it doesn't matter," he said. "They'll find fish."
How big does Horton thing they'll be?
"I think it'll take 12 to 14 (pounds) a day to win it," he said. "You'll see some 17- to 18-pound bags, but to hold that over four days will be tough. But we may get surprised. No one thought we'd catch what we did at Wheeler (Lake.) So who knows?"