Gleason running and gunning

Andy Crawford is following Darold Gleason, who is in the hunt today for two targets that are one in the same. The first is to catch quality fish and the second is for those to boost his weight in the Falcon Rods Angler of the Year points. So far, so good. BASSTrakk shows him in fourth place with only two bass, but those weigh 2 pounds apiece, which seems to be a good average weight, given the conditions. 

Going into today, Gleason is second in the Central points standings with 540 points, or just seven points behind leader Jason Christie. The top four anglers from the Central Division will get invitations to the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series. Gleason intends to accept the invitation. 

For now, it's all about the grind underway on Lewisville Lake. Gleason has a pattern in play, and it involves a milk run to specific shoreline targets that are protected from the wind. 

COVID no match for South African

Neels Beneke risked more than anyone else in this tournament in pursuit of his dream. Beneke, of South Africa, one of its top bass tournament anglers, wants to win this tournament so he can become the first angler from Africa to fish the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by HUK. 

Beneke came to the U.S. in late February with the intention of competing in the Bassmaster Central Open at Lake Lewisville, which was postponed until this week. He would then return home until the Arkansas River event in June. Instead, Beneke sheltered in place in this country, or faced being unable to get back into the U.S. So he sheltered in place until restrictions were lifted. 

Beneke came here with nothing but his fishing tackle. No boat. No vehicle. Just a dream separated by 10,000 miles. He camped for weeks at Opens tournament fisheries, only to have the events postponed and the dream put on hold again. Along the way, he purchased a used truck and boat, and stayed with friends during the springtime lockdown and between tournaments. As you see in this picture, he camps in a tent at all the tournament sites. 

"Flying back and forth from South Africa left me feeling like I wouldn't be able to finish the season with all the travel restrictions," he said. "But here I am, it all worked out and I owe it all to my faith in God and my sponsors."

Those are Abu Garcia SA, Varkenelli Customs, Outdoors365, 30South Eyewear and Big Bite Baits USA. 

Read more about him.

Last Classic opportunity

It's the Bassmaster Opens Central finale. This season with all its challenges has come and gone, and now everything boils down to this tournament, the last opportunity of the year to make the Bassmaster Classic.

Flying back and forth from South Africa with all the COVID-19 restrictions, there have been a couple of times I thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish the season. But here we are, it all worked out well, and we are about to finish the season — and hopefully with style.

Lewisville Lake has suited me well, and I had both good and terrible practice days. I found some decent kicker fish and a solid pattern I hope will stick come tournament day. Its going to be tough and a grind, but I'm more ready than ever! #justfaithfishing

Special thanks to the gear sponsors having my back: Abu Garcia SA, Varkenelli Customs, Outdoors365 Equipment, 30South Eyewear and Big Bite Baits USA.