QUITMAN, Texas — The Toyota Texas Bass Classic was decided by a record breaking performance from two-time winner and defending TTBC champion Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas. Combs broke the tour-level world record Sunday with an amazing 110 pounds following three days of competition at Lake Fork. The previous record for a 5-bass limit was set in 2000 at Clear Lake, California, by Byron Velvick with 83 pounds, 5 ounces. Combs’ total over three days broke the record by a staggering 26 pounds, 11 ounces.
“To get 100 pounds in four days is a major accomplishment, and to do it in three is unheard of. It's nothing about the angler but it’s a testament to this lake,” Elite Series pro Keith Combs said. “I wasn’t the only one here to crack 100 pounds on 15 bass, so that just tells you how strong and how well-managed this lake is.”
After standout performances from Combs in the first two days of TTBC competition, he entered Sunday with a 4-pound lead; however, Stetson Blaylock, Russ Lane, Jason Christie and Randy Haynes overtook him, and multiple anglers overtook first place during an early morning flurry of big catches.
Lane was the first pro to top 90 pounds, tallying 96, which was then quickly topped by Blaylock with a 93 while Combs sat at 88 pounds. Justin Lucas was the sixth pro to top 80 while Mark Rose added a couple weighers around 10 a.m. By noon, the top seven of the Tundra Ten were within 10 pounds.
As wind picked up around the noon, the big 6-, 7- and 8-pounders that Lake Fork is famous for started to show up. Combs bounced through several spots producing four or more catches at each.
"Midday, I got into a little rhythm but was only catching one fish per spot. I'd run, catch one, run again, catch one. I told my onboard judge, 'I'm feeling it,' and I got a little groove on,” said Combs. “I said to my judge, 'It's happening for me right now.'"
Combs was on track to collect his second Century Bag (100+lbs) of his eight-year career, recording 102 pounds and regaining the lead with an 8-8 (over 24 inches) in the afternoon. Blaylock made a late afternoon run with catches at 7-8, 4-8 and 5-12 within five minutes of each other, earning him the first Century Bag of his young professional career but it proved not enough to catch Combs. Blaylock finished second at 102 pounds, 8 ounces.
Combs’ world record performance also claimed two individual statistic awards: His 42-pound bag on Friday earned him the LEER Heavyweight Award (largest single-day weight), while his 10-pound, 14-ounce catch Friday won him the ATX Wheels Big Bass Award. Combs will receive a LEER Truck Cap and a set of premium ATX Wheels for his efforts.
"You really never know what you're going to catch. Every time I set the hook today, I thought it was going to be a 10-pounder,” said Combs. “In your mind, there's no doubt of the potential Lake Fork has on any cast. There aren't many places we fish on the pro tours where that happens."
The tournament remains a non-entry fee event, with all 50 competing anglers taking home guaranteed prize money. In addition, the TTBC continued its focus on conservation by adhering to a strict catch, weigh and immediate release format that has earned the event national praise for its conservation efforts over the past eight years. The program highlights the efforts of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; and after a $250,000 contribution this weekend, TTBC has given $2 million in donations to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to fund youth education and outreach programs.
Three days of world championship bass fishing also included performances from three of country music’s brightest stars. Little Big Town, Justin Moore and Pat Green entertained thousands of fans throughout the weekend. Free family fun was also a highlight of the event, with activities in the Bass Pro Shops Kids Zone and TPWD Outdoor Adventures Area. See photos of the 2014 Toyota Texas Bass Classic.