Fired up for more competition

I'm getting excited for the Bassmaster Elite Series swing through Pickwick Lake in Alabama and Toledo Bend in Texas starting next week.

Man, I'm really looking forward to these two events. Sight fishing will again play a role in the Pickwick tourney but I expect other patterns to be working, too. I love fishing the Tennessee River system; it's been very good to me over the years. We're going there a little earlier than what we're accustomed to, but I expect fishing to be very good.

The following week we're at Toledo Bend where the bass should be in a variety of spawn stages. It's been warm there for several weeks and many bass have spawned, but there will be some on beds, too.

The "Bend" is so big you can catch fish with just about any method you prefer. What will make it interesting is the water is down several feet, which will make it fish like a new lake for most of the field that is familiar with it. The lower water also should concentrate the fish in areas, which means anyone who finds them wadded up will smash 'em.

I'll have a box full of new Strike King prototype lures to test over the next couple of weeks, too. I can't reveal what the baits are, but I will tell you that if you liked the crankbaits we introduced last year, wait until you see some of the new ones coming.

One of the great things about Strike King is it utilizes its pro staff in lure development every step of the way. They send us prototypes, we test them and offer input on how they need to be tweaked. They send us revised models and we put them through the paces again.

Believe me, there aren't many lure companies that go to such great pains with product development as Strike King does.

None of these lures will see the market until we get them right and we know they are maximizing their fish catching ability.

You may not have to wait until next year to see them, either. In years past, we introduce new lures at the ICAST Tackle Trade Show in July, and they don't get to the public until late winter. This year, we've decided to release each new bait the moment we've got it right and can roll it into production.

In conclusion, I spent part of last weekend at the Oakley Kevin VanDam Big Bass Classic at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake. It's a fishing derby sponsored by Oakley Sunglasses, one of my key sponsors.

I attended registration and a dinner with sweepstakes winners but had to leave before the contest was over, so I wanted to send along congratulations to Wayne Youngblood for winning the Nitro Z9 tricked out with a 250 Merc Pro XS and a Power Pole. Wayne caught an 8.70-pound bass to win the big fish derby.

As Wayne knows, it's all about the attitude!

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