SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. — Keith Poche not only took Friday’s lead, he also brought in the largest bass of the first day: 6 pounds, 13 ounces, setting the bar in the new Carhartt Big Bass award program.
Poche claims he didn’t hear the announcement of the big fish’s weight. Maybe no one did. The thunder of the crowd — including Poche’s large cheering section of family and friends from his native Louisiana — very possibly drowned it out.
From Natchitoches, La., Poche, 30, now lives in Pike Road, Ala., near Montgomery. He left home at age 20 as a college student to transfer to Troy University in Alabama. He played football for the Trojans as a running back while pursuing a degree.
During his second football season, a left shoulder injury put an end to his days on the field. Without football in his life, Poche filled his spare hours fishing lakes around Troy from an aluminum boat he brought with him from Louisiana. One day a friend invited him to fish a tournament, and that’s how he got bit by the competition bug.
In 2009, through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, he qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series. He got through his rookie year of 2010, then blossomed in 2011, finishing 10th in points and securing his first Classic entry.
Turns out, Poche not only got to come home to Louisiana for his first Classic appearance, he was able to give his family and friends in the audience the honor of saying, “He’s ours.”
If no one brings a larger bass to the scales over the next two days, Poche could win a bonus from Carhartt of up to $2,500.
Backstage Friday, Poche revealed that he caught most of his bass on “a little, bitty bait.”
Can’t blame the man for not naming the productive lure until the game is over.