DECATUR, Ill. — As the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Brent Chapman is red-hot in pro bass fishing. But he is going into Toyota Trucks All-Star Week stone-cold.
“As far as not really knowing anything about a couple bodies of water, this is definitely as new as it gets,” he said.
He’s not alone. Few, if any, of the dozen All-Star pros have competed on the two fisheries for this week’s event out of Decatur, Ill. The challenge of the unknown gets even harder: Anglers will be allowed only one day of practice on each lake.
The full field will compete Thursday and Friday on Lake Shelbyville, an 11,100-acre, clear water impoundment that stretches about 20 miles, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, recently rated the largemouth bass fishing on Shelbyville as “excellent.”
There’s at least one thing about Lake Shelbyville that Chapman knows: toothy muskellunge live there.
“Musky tend to steal lures,” he said. “Say you want to use some baits you don’t have a lot of. You might not want to throw those lures. It makes you a bit nervous knowing that musky could be continually cutting your line.”
After two days on Shelbyville, the four pros with the most weight will advance on Saturday to Lake Decatur for the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship. Lake Decatur, a reservoir within the city of Decatur, will present a completely different set of fishing challenges to the four pros.