As goes the intro to that song you hear at darn near every sporting event — "Y'all ready for this?"
There is reason for incredible excitement as the Elite Series heads to
Falcon Lake for the Lone Star Shootout, presented by Longhorn. Insiders say
40-pound sacks are not out of the question. And that's for a one-day haul.
That means individual lunker, single-day catch and overall-catch records
The 78,000-plus acre fishery on the Rio Grande also has many pros expecting
tremendous bags of bass this week. Not surprisingly, our crack team of
fishing pundits has followed suit.
Here's the lineup:
James Overstreet, ESPN Outdoors photographer
Todd Faircloth — A guy a lot of people might not know a lot about, but this Texan can catch them anywhere — and does. We're headed to his backyard and Faircloth could be fishing the final day at both of the Texas stops (Lake Amistad is next on the Elite Series.)
Skeet Reese — Everybody knows it will take heavy bags of fish every day in Texas to win, and a 3-pound average will send you packing. Skeet won't waste his time wading through 3-pound, Texas-sized swimmers, but will target the bigger fish it will take to win.
Kelly Jordon — It takes big fish, and plenty of them to win in Texas. Probably nobody fishing the Elite Series catches more big bass than this Texan.
Steve Kennedy — One of the worst things that happened to the rest of the Elite Series pros last year, was Steve Kennedy spending $3,000 on swimbaits in California. He's still got some of them left, and you can bet he'll throw them in Texas.
Edwin Evers — Evers didn't have a great swing through Florida, but he always fishes well in Texas. He's one of the best on tour, and should come out of Texas with at least one top 12.
Steve Wright, ESPN Outdoors writer
Alton Jones — When Jones won the Bassmaster Classic in February, he mentioned landing a crucial 4-pounder that tangled him in the flooded timber on Lake Hartwell. He said that all those days of off-season fishing at Falcon Lake helped him learn to be patient with bass wrapped in the timber. He's now rested from the Classic mania, as evidenced by his sixth-place finish at Kissimmee recently. He's experienced on Falcon, and on Tuesday of last week during his visit to the White House, President Bush presented him with a special visa to Mexico that allows Jones into the best bass honey hole on Falcon [sarcasm alert]. That's an unbeatable combination.
Kevin VanDam — He's coming off his third Bassmaster Elite Series title, and he finished sixth at Lake Amistad last year, which is similar to Falcon. Then, like many Elite Series pros, VanDam spent a few days on Falcon before heading to California and the next 2007 Elite Series event. Those factors, plus a burning desire to add a fourth Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title to his resume, make KVD a good pick — just like he always is.
Steve Kennedy — He was third at Amistad last year, when he tied on a swimbait for the first time in his life. Three weeks later, after a $2,000 swimbait shopping spree, Kennedy set the BASS tournament record for the heaviest four-day weight with 122 pounds, 14 ounces, at California's Clear Lake. So far he is quietly having another solid season: sixth in TTBAOY points after a sixth-place finish at the Harris Chain and finishing 17th at Kissimmee. This two-tournament, big-bass Texas swing could be where Kennedy breaks out.
Bobby Lane — Why wouldn't you pick the Elite Series rookie who is leading in TTBAOY points (562), leading in the Berkley Heavyweight standings (67 pounds, 6 ounces), has posted a fourth-place finish at the Bassmaster Classic, finished third at the Harris Chain and seventh at Kissimmee? The answer to that question might be that the clear waters in Falcon will put the Lakeland, Fla., pro somewhat out of his element. However, Lane seems comfortable everywhere.
Skeet Reese — After a 17th-place finish at Harris, Reese said he'd be a happy camper to get out of Florida (where he's never fared well) with another top-20 finish at Kissimmee. He just missed that goal, placing 22nd. Look for Reese to show he's serious about defending his 2007 Angler of the Year title during these two Texas stops (he was ninth at Amistad last year.)
Trey Reid, ESPN Outdoors contributor
Kevin VanDam — KVD sounds pretty excited about this tournament, saying records will fall if the right weather conditions prevail. That kind of talk is scary if you're betting against this guy.
Alton Jones — On an emotional high since his Classic victory and a recent visit to the White House, Jones returns to his native Texas and continues his 2008 dominance.
Kevin Wirth — I bumped into Wirth backstage at the final weigh-in of the last event at Kissimmee Chain. Unfortunately, it was a little early for a shot of Early Times, but Wirth did share some Falcon stories from his practice time there. Sounds promising.
Mike McClelland — I think Falcon sets up nicely for McClelland, who's obviously on a roll right now.
Byron Velvick — Gotta show some love to my old ESPN colleague after his strong showing at Kissimmee. And you can't discount the fact that he lives just up the road in Del Rio, Tex.
Mike McKinnis, Bassmaster television producer
Dean Rojas — My pick to win the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year for 2008. Versatile angler and is confident when big fish are prevalent. Finished 13th on Amistad in '07 and should make another top-12 cut on Falcon.
Steve Kennedy — Found confidence in the big swim baits last year and is not afraid to stick with a big fish bait. Currently sixth in TTBAOY standings and will continue to be in the top 10 throughout the year.
Morizo Shimizu — What better place than Falcon to hear him say "BIG MAMA!"?
Alton Jones — On a roll after the Classic and hanging tough in the TTBAOY race. If these big boys are caught on worms or jigs at Falcon, look out for Alton.
Kevin VanDam — Is there any reason not to have him on your top-five list for any event? Look for him on my list all year long. As long as he doesn't have to slow down, there will be blood.
Alan Clemons, Huntsville (Ala.) Times, ESPN Outdoors contributor
Steve Kennedy — Great deep-water guy and last year's swim bait tutorial on Clear Lake (Calif.) helped him get over the mental hump. He'll do well here.
Derek Remitz — Gut feeling tells me last year's Rookie of the Year could have a great two-event swing through west Texas, starting of Falcon and continuing on Amistad (where he won last year's season-opening event.)
Kevin VanDam — A few weeks off after his Florida victory should be enough to have him rested and to have stoked his competitive fire. Look for him to go after big swim bait bites with the Strike King Shadalicious or the King Shad.
Ish Monroe — He didn't do well at all at the Classic and has battled a "fishing rod mojo curse" the last few weeks. But I think he could break out after making the trek to west Texas.
Kelly Jordon — He's in his home state. He's a monster with a big-fish stick in his hands. He's due for a win.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Lone Star Shootout on Falcon Lake, from Zapata, Texas, April 3–6, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:50pm ET. "Hooked Up" will air Sunday at 10 a.m., noon and 5:15 p.m. ET.