2013 Elite Series Rigid Industries Falcon Slam
Falcon Lake - Zapata, TX, Mar 21 - 25, 2013

Combs soars again

Local pro sets sights on first Elite win

Keith Combs
James Overstreet
Keith Combs amassed this 28-1 stringer on the second day of the Rigid Industries Falcon Slam.

ZAPATA, Texas — Do the math: 33 pounds x 4 days = 132.

You can bet Texan Keith Combs is doing the multiplication. Combs weighed 28 pounds, 1 ounce Friday, and while not duplicating his 34-13 smash of Thursday, he still amassed 62-14 after two days in the Rigid Industries Falcon Slam out of Zapata, Texas. Such a weight after two days is enough to dream of the possibility of coming close to or busting the 132-8 Bassmaster Elite Series all-time, five-fish-limit, four-day weight record set five years ago on Falcon.

And now with a 7-pound, 7-ounce lead, Combs can also set his sights for his first win on Lake Falcon, where he’s been a guide for years. It would also be his first win in the Elite Series.

He’s headed the right way. The Huntington, Texas, pro’s two heavyweight bags added up to the leader spot for the second day in a row in a four-day tournament.

Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., put up 55-7 after Friday against the leader’s 62-14, coming up far short of knocking Combs off the catbird seat. But Evers felt good about his Friday weight of 28-15, which boosted him from ninth place into second. Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., pushed himself up one place into third with his 54-0 two-day weight.

One of the biggest moves of the day was by Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part, La., who shot from 50th place on the first day into fourth on the second. The rocket ship he rode was the day’s largest bag: 35-3. In fifth Friday with 53-9 was Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla., the pro who had never seen Falcon Lake before this week, but has managed two impressive sacks of largemouth bass two days running.

Combs needs to boost his daily weights Saturday and Sunday to go for the win and the record, but as his fellow Elite pro Hank Cherry put it, “Any cast here can be a double-digit fish.”

Combs isn’t close to being cocky about his chances, though.

“I don’t even want to talk about winning, not on the second day,” he said after Friday’s weigh-in. “Maybe tomorrow.”

Combs had a limit by noon Friday, but the count was “two decent fish,” and “three real small fish,” he said. Probably not enough to keep his Day 1 lead. Then, to his relief, he managed a late rally, including a last cast that came back with a 6-pounder attached. The catch allowed him to cull a 2-pounder.

He had started on his primary offshore spot Friday — the same that produced for him Thursday — but without a keeper, ran to different spot. He returned to his two hot spots from Thursday, hoping things would change, and moved again. He estimated he made 12 to 15 moves all day.

On Friday morning, in the area holding his two key spots about 100 yards apart, he had to try to share it with other competitors.

“I had unwanted company this morning,” he said. “That didn’t help. It was not so much that I couldn’t fish my water, but that there are two key deals. If I can let one rest, then I can go to the other one and come back later.”

Fishless, he left his prime spots about 10 a.m. He went to water he’d practiced on, but had not hit the first day, and fished them aggressively.

“And I caught a big one and two other keepers, went back to where I started and didn’t catch any, then moved to a new spot and caught a 5-pounder,” Combs said. He then hooked into his largest of the day, about a 7-pounder, followed by a 4-1/2 pounder.

He ended the day with a limit made up of a 7, two 6s, a 5 and a 4 1/2, all postspawn largemouth.

Evers brought in 28-15 Friday, including a 9-13 even bigger than his first-day lunker, a 9-11 that tied for Thursday’s largest bass.

“I caught them both in the exact same spot,” Evers said. “That big one came on something completely different than I’d been doing. And it came on the second cast.”

Otherwise, he said, the day was “slow, horribly slow.”

“Yesterday I had a limit by nine. Today I didn’t have a limit until probably 10, 11 o’clock,” he said.

Evers is rolling a successful practice day into a strong tournament. “I had the best day of my [fishing] life one day in practice,” he said. “I’d pull up and catch one, it’d be a giant, I’d move and catch one; it’d be a giant. I was really excited.”

The field was cut to the Top 50 for Day 3 Saturday. Those 50 will shoot to be among Sunday’s Top 12, the finalists who will compete for the first-place prize of $100,000, a win-you’re-in berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and 100 points toward the 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

Combs earned the Slam’s $500 Livingston Lures Leader Award, a bonus for the leader after the second day of competition in an Elite event.

The largest bass of the day was a 10-13 weighed by Matt Greenblatt of Port St. Lucie, Fla. It leads the event’s contest to bring in the Carhartt Big Bass and collect an award worth $1,000, plus another $750 if the angler was wearing Carhartt apparel.

Crochet’s bag of 35-3 became the top candidate for the event’s Berkley Heavyweight Award competition for a $500 bonus.

The Top 50 Elite pros will return to Falcon Lake Saturday for the third of four days of competition. The pros will leave the docks at the Zapata County Public Boat Ramp (3079 County Road, Zapata, TX 78076) at 7:15 a.m. CT. The weigh-in is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m. CT. Starting at noon, the Bassmaster Elite Series Expo will showcase new boats, tackle, Rigid Industries LED lighting systems, vehicles and other equipment for fishing and boating. All Bassmaster events are free.

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