Deb Johnson: BASS Reporter's Notebook

Reese is ready; Heat cranks up the competition; Brody's back; Northern Opens begin

Reese is ready

 Skeet Reese wants to stop all the talk.

 As the points leader going into the July 24-31 Toyota Trucks Championship Week in Alabama, Reese has been asked many times about his chances of taking the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and its $200,000 prize.

 "It's been the topic for the last month, everywhere I go, with anybody I talk to," said Reese, who won the title in 2007 and narrowly missed it in 2009. "I'm tired of talking about it, I'm tired of waiting, I want to get it going."

 While waiting, he has not been idle. He appeared last week at the big ICAST tradeshow in Las Vegas. Afterward, he traveled to Tulsa, Okla., to pick up his boat. Then he swung through Arkansas for a Stratos dealer meeting. He continued on to Alabama, arriving in Montgomery, Ala., with days to spare. He made the cross-country trek from his home in Auburn, Calif., alone; his family plans to join him in time for the July 30-31 finale.

 Despite his schedule, he said he feels rested.

 "I'm ready, I'm fired up," he said Monday.

 He will have to wait until Thursday. That's when Reese, along with the other 11 qualifiers, will be allowed on Lake Jordan for their first official practice day.

 He is not passing the time by coming up with "what if" scenarios on the points he could or could not earn to win the title. He's not worrying about strategies of the other pros.

 "I don't think about points. As long as I do my job — figure out how to win each one — then it's done and over," he said.

 After the first two-day round on Jordan with weigh-ins July 24-25 in Wetumpka, the competition will move to Montgomery and the Alabama River for the July 30-31 finale.

 

Heat cranks up the competition

Hot, hot and hotter is the weather forecast for the July 24-31 Toyota Trucks Championship Week in Montgomery and Wetumpka, Ala.

 Lately, mornings in the region have begun with a gray haze. The sun burns through only hours later. Air temperatures soon move over the 90-degree mark. Surface temps on area lakes and rivers aren't that high, but the upper layers feel like bath water. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, turning outside into a sauna.

 Such sustained hot weather and high humidity drives people indoors, but it certainly won't stop the 12 pros competing on Alabama's Lake Jordan and the Alabama River for $200,000 and the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. The heat, however, means the bite will be different than at last year's Postseason, according to Reese, the California pro who almost won last year.

 The Postseason was played on the same fisheries in 2009, but in the early fall, coinciding with a summer-to-fall transition of the fish. This year's competition will be what Reese called a "full summer bite."

 "I'm not expecting the bite to be nearly as good as it was," he said. "We're not going to have the current, the flow, that we had last year. When it gets that hot, the bite tends to get tougher."

 Postseason qualifier Aaron Martens is a California native, but after living in Alabama for several years, he expects relentless July heat.

 "I'd say it's about average — about 90," he said. "It's hot, definitely hot. It does affect the fishing. A lot of times it puts the fish into a schedule, waiting for the wind to blow, the skies to darken or for rain — anything but slick water. So timing's important."

 Martens said he expects daily weights to be about the same as at the 2009 Postseason, but the anglers will have to work harder for the big sacks. The fish will be spread out more, he said.

 "When it gets hot, and there's not a lot of flow (current), you have to work a lot harder," he said.

 Martens was in Las Vegas for ICAST, as well. Before that, he appeared at a charity fishing event and competed in a big tournament.

 "I don't feel rested, but I feel good, even though I've been going since ... well, since I don't know when," he said. "I've been working almost seven days a week, and haven't been fishing much. It will take a day or so to get used to the heat. I'll drink a lot of water."

 

Brody's back

Sidelined for the 2010 season by a hand injury, Brent "Brody" Broderick of Oregonia, Ohio, has announced he'll return to the Bassmaster Elite Series next year.

 He plans to be back for the 2011 season opener, the March 10-13 Sunshine Showdown on the Harris Chain of Lakes.

 BASS granted a medical leave to Broderick in February after a hand injury left him unable to grip a rod or to set a hook. Broderick, who qualified through the Bassmaster Opens for his 2009 rookie Elite season, can return to the Elite level without having to requalify.

 His injury stemmed from torn ligaments in his fingers, a relatively minor injury he guesses happened sometime in 2009. The real trouble began when a muscle strap in his hand, stressed by the damaged ligaments, gave way in December 2009.

 Broderick recovered by undergoing orthopedic treatments and physical therapy. He wore braces and casts. He was in pain for months.

 Now he's waiting for a doctor in Louisville, Ky., to make a custom brace. He'll wear it as he works on getting his hand into shape, and likely during Elite competition.

 "There were a few days when I thought my fishing career was over. It's not. I've put everything — my entire life — into this," he said. "As soon as the doctor gave me clearance, I started running and biking to get back into shape. Now it's up to me to re-train my hand and get it back into condition to be able to set the hook on a fish."

 

Open kickoff

The 2010 Bassmaster Northern Open season begins this week on Lake Champlain out of Plattsburgh, N.Y.

 Competition is set for Thursday, July 22, through Saturday, July 24. About 200 pros and 200 co-anglers preregistered for the event.

 On the line for pros is a $45,000-plus first prize and points that count toward a berth in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic and invitations to move up to the Bassmaster Elite Series level. Only two pros will win Classic entries.

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