FRISCO, Texas -- When he was in second place after the first day of fishing in the 10th annual Toyota Texas Bass Classic, Matt Herren said sunny skies were key to his success.
Herren got the conditions he wanted (in the morning at least) and his catch on Day 2 proved his feelings correct. The Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Alabama looks right at home on Lake Ray Roberts here in north Texas.
After boating a 19-pound, 8-ounce total on Friday, Herren came back strongly with a 15-pound limit on Saturday. His two-day total of 34-8 has him in the lead of the highly competitive TTBC, which is a major fund-raising tournament for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s youth fishing and outreach programs.
“I got the sun a little bit in the morning, and that definitely helped,” Herren said. “Then it kind of went away. I’m still chasing them. I have an idea of how to get a bite and where to get a bite, but finding areas that reload every day (has been hard) In a way that’s good, because I knew going in I had to have an open mind … Every time you get a bite, you have to adjust, and make good decisions.”
Herren’s total is tops so far among the 38 anglers, which include the top 15 in the Elite Series Angler of the Year standings as well as the top 15 in the FLW AOY. Eight exemptions also were granted to other top-flight anglers.
Only 10 anglers -- the Tundra 10 -- survived to fish Sunday for the top prize of $100,000 cash and a Nitro Z20 with dual Power-Poles. There’s also bragging rights on the line, of course.
Also making the cut are Andy Morgan, 34-0; third, Bryan Thrift, 33-12; fourth, Dave Lefebre, 32-4; and Day 1 leader Chris Zaldain in fifth place with 32-0. Rounding out the 10 are sixth, Kevin VanDam, 31-8; seventh, Cody Meyer, 31-4; eighth, Luke Clausen, 30-8; and Greg Hackney and Aaron Martens (tied with 30-4 each.)
Morgan, an FLW Tour pro competing in his eighth TTBC, had the big bag of the day at 22 pounds. That total has him in the lead for the LEER Heavy Weight Award, which goes to the angler with the heaviest single-day weight from any one of the three days of the TTBC.
Morgan said he had to “get out of the rotation” and find his own water to land bigger fish today.
“I caught them fairly quick, and they were fairly big, too,” Morgan said. “After the first couple hours, I had 15 or 16 pounds. That was a big relief. This place is small enough if you get enough people fishing up shallow, which a lot of us are, you get into a bad rotation and you don’t catch much. That’s where I was yesterday. Today, I saw where they set up and started, and I came back around later.”
Thrift said he caught his two biggest fish on Saturday flipping a Damiki TopCat. He’s only 12 ounces behind Herren and said the TTBC title is anyone’s game. Only 4-4 separate Herren from both Hackney and Martens, who are tied for ninth place.
“Everybody in the top 10 has a chance to win,” Thrift said. “Someone’s going to catch an 8 or 9-pounder tomorrow to win this thing. That’s going to be the key – one big one.”
Tracy Adams finished 11th and narrowly missed the cut with a two-day haul of 30 pounds, which was only four ounces behind Hackney and Martens. Jordan Lee, Jason Christie (who finished second here last year,) Keith Combs (who has won three TTBC titles,) and Randy Howell composed the other anglers in the top 15.
The final round of the TTBC will begin at 7 a.m. on Sunday at Lake Ray Roberts State Park in Denton. The Toyota Texas Fest presented by JBL will be held from noon-8 p.m. at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, with the final weigh-in and awards ceremony taking place at 5 p.m.
The TTBC is a benefit for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s youth fishing and outreach programs, and has contributed more than $2.25 million to date. The TPWD stocks 18 small bodies of water in 11 metropolitan areas, which has brought fishing to thousands of people; many of them newcomers to the sport.
“About 100,000 people a year benefit from (the Neighborhood Fishin’ Program,) and about 50,000 of those are new to fishing,” said Dave Terre, Chief of Research and Development for TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division. “TTBC also supports a number of other conservation and outreach efforts aimed at involving more people in the outdoors.”