PELL CITY, Ala. — Three attempts in three tries - that pretty much sums up David Kilgore's Bassmaster Classic experience. The Alabama angler has come ever so close to reaching what he describes as the pinnacle of bass fishing three painful times.
Saturday, Kilgore has yet another shot at achieving what he calls a lifetime dream. He’s in position to end the streak now more than he ever was before, leading the pro ranks going into the final day of the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #3 on Logan Martin Lake.
Nobody stands between him and the top. It’s his and he intends to stay there.
Kilgore is one of the good guys. Not arrogant, but confident he’s finally got what it takes to close a deal that has eluded him long enough.
“I hope by 8 or 8:30 in the morning that I’ll be going to the Bassmaster Classic,” he said.
That’s heady stuff considering the company he is joined by in the Top 12 championship round.
Kilgore has reason to be heady. He quit fishing for a quality bite of spotted bass this morning at 7 a.m. That was just 90 minutes after the takeoff. Spotted bass rule in size and quantity on this fishery. They are the species of choice over largemouth.
“I’m real optimistic,” he said. “I didn’t hit my key main areas very much at all this morning. I left it all behind and went largemouth fishing.”
Confident. Optimistic. An attitude that is most definitely what it takes to win in this highly competitive environment.
“Hopefully, the sky’s the limit in the morning with everyone else off this lake except the Top 12,” he added.
“If the weather stays the way it is now then I’ve got a good shot at winning,” he continued. “The fish are there. There are a lot of them there, as a matter of fact.”
It took years leading up to his Classic close calls for Kilgore to get where he is now. Success came early, though.
He won a 2004 Bassmaster Southern Open as a co-angler, and has maintained a high level of consistency ever since, cashing a check in 29 of 44 tournaments.
The Classic has been top of mind the entire time.
“It’s one of those things where after you’ve done it you ask yourself one question,” he said. “And that is, what could possibly be better than this?”
Kilgore pondered that question for the first time in 2009. It’s when he finished one slot out of qualifying for the Classic in the Southern Open final standings.
Home is Jasper, Ala., a short drive away from Birmingham and host city of the 2010 Classic. Kilgore was there to watch Kevin VanDam win the world championship title on Lay Lake.
There’s no doubt the question burned in Kilgore’s mind.
The question came up again in 2010 when Kilgore missed the Classic cut by two spots, again in the Southern Open circuit. Both times he declined the invitation to go all out and join the ranks of the Bassmaster Elite Series, forsaking another potential route to the Classic.
“I was freshly married at the time,” said Kilgore, a full-time real estate agent. “I didn’t want to spend all that money, be on the road all the time and be away from my wife and my family.”
His most recent brush with Classic qualification happened last month at Southern Open #2 on Douglas Lake. Kilgore finished the event in third place.
“I’m not out here fishing for points and that’s why the Opens suit my style,” he said. “For me it’s win and you’re in.”
As Day Two draws to a close, Kilgore will ask himself the same question as before.
What could possibly be better than qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic?
He hopes Day Three holds the answer.