Elites face tough conditions on Lake Toho

What's at stake

 There is $673,150 in cash up for grabs to the top 50 Elite Series pros and valuable points in the race for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.In addition to crowning the final Elite Series event winner of 2007, one angler will emerge as the winner of bass fishing's highest honor: the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.Also to be awarded: the Toyota Rookie of the Year award, and the Toyota Moving Forward Award. Additionally, 36 Bassmaster Classic berths will be awarded to the Elite anglers with the highest number of points, and the top 84 anglers in the AOY standings will qualify for the 2008 season.

 Telecast:

 The Sunshine Showdown presented by Allstate Boat Insurance on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla., will be aired on ESPN2's The Bassmasters Saturday, Sept. 29, at 9 a.m. ET.

 The Pros Said It
 "Right now practice is pretty slow and I've yet to get a limit of bites in one day. I'm still hunting and pecking, trying to find a glory hole or solid pattern where I can go catch a limit each day. The fish are biting first thing in the morning and then they really shut down. If anything, I've eliminated a lot of stuff. I'm hoping to find something today and then let the derby begin! As long as I beat Kevin (VanDam) by one point (in the AOY race), that's all that matters."

 — Skeet Reese, 38, Auburn, Calif., eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points leader headed into final event

 "I can sum up the practice in one word: challenging. There's something wrong with the water clarity in the lake, it's off-color and there's no current moving. When you combine those two things it makes it really tough. It's going to be one tough event to win and I think you're going to have to fish two or three patterns to do it. It's tough enough to fish here four days when the fishing is good, and the conditions right now are making it much more difficult."

 — Terry Scroggins, 38, San Mateo, Fla., four-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, fifth in combined Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings for 2006 and 2007"The lake's fishing pretty tough right now. I'm doing a lot of flipping but it's sporadic and it's hard to get a big bite and duplicate on the conditions that we have. I'm looking for that magic spot and have to almost win this tournament as well as Skeet (Reese) have a bad tournament for me to win Angler of the Year. I've seen enough good things happen that it gets me excited, but I'm also a realist. I'm looking for five big ones in fives casts and haven't found that yet."

 — Kevin VanDam, 39, Kalamazoo, Mich., two-time Bassmaster Classic Winner, now second in the 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings

 The Strategy
 Reese: The leader in Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points is playing up his fishing strengths by flipping grass beds and hoping it will work to his advantage in the final event. He is fishing a variety of lures including crankbaits, top-water baits, Carolina rigs and a variety of soft plastics. He is moving often and targeting several areas, including shallow-water grassy areas, deep-water grassy areas, pockets and points. The spinnerbait and jig are not factors in his strategy.

 Scroggins:

 Before practicing for the Sunshine Showdown, the Floridian estimated that it would take 17 to 20 pounds a day to win the event, but now he believes it will be far less: an estimated 13 pounds per day to win. He is fishing a variety of lures, including a Carolina rig with Houdini worm and flipping a Big Show Craw lure. Scroggins is planning to cover as much water as possible. He has identified a little bit of schooling activity but says it is limited.

 VanDam:

 He's moving often and covering lots of water. While he has fished Lake Toho several times in the past, he has never fished it at this time of year, which is making it tough. The Michigan pro is targeting Kissimmee grass, reeds, hydrilla and matted vegetation, as well as searching for structure and deeper water. VanDam estimates that pros will need 13 pounds a day on average, and 50 to 55 pounds overall will likely win.

 Location:

 Sunshine Showdown

 Lake Tohopekaliga

 Kissimmee, Fla.

 

Sept. 13-16, 2007

 

Field:

 

108 pros, 108 co-anglers

 

Cut to top 50 after Day 2

 

Cut to top 12 pro anglers after Day 3

 

Launch/Weigh-in:

 

Kissimmee Lake Front Park

 

698 Lakeshore Blvd.

 

Kissimmee, Blvd. 34744

 

6:50 a.m. ET / 3 p.m. ET

 

Previous winners on lake:

 

56-2, Luke Clausen, 2006

 

15-8, Josh Guess, 2006

 

27-11, Jeff Coble, 2005

 

39-9, Terry Scroggins, 2005

 

21-7, Charlie Coleman, 2005

 

50-11, Takahiro Omori, 2005

 

61-4, Tim Horton, 2001

 

108-12, Dean Rojas, 2001

 

53-11, Shaw Grigsby, 2000

 

41-0, Danny Kirk, 1999

 

30-1, Ken Cook, 1982

 

33-11, Horace Phipps, 1980

 

David Gliebe, 1978

 

Rick Clunn, 1977

 

Heaviest winning weight:

 

108-12, Dean Rojas, 2001

 

Lowest winning weight:

 

15-8, Josh Guess, 2006

 

Temperature:

 

90 degrees

 

Lake level:

 

0 ft. above mean sea level

 

Local sponsors:

 

Central Florida Sports Commission and the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 

Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors:

 

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Evan Williams Bourbon, Ramada Worldwide and Costa Del Mar.

 

To view current 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, click here.

 

Live, streaming video of the Sunshine Showdown's daily weigh-ins and realtime leaderboards begin Thursday through Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPNOutdoors.com. Also live on ESPNOutdoors.com, "Hooked Up" with Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders airs at 8 a.m., 10 and noon with the full pre-weigh-in show at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, leading into the live weigh-in and realtime leaderboard at approximately 3:45.

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