Bad draw for Vinson

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY – Greg Vinson played the hand the fish dealt him, but his cards didn’t fall as well as Chris Lane’s.

Vinson perfectly executed his game plan during the 42nd Bassmaster Classic, fishing flawlessly and catching just about everything that took a shot at his baits. He won’t lament the ones that got away because there weren’t any. He picked a good spot and did everything he could with it. When he got bit, he connected. He just never connected with the big fish he needed Sunday.

Lane hooked up with a kicker that went better than 6 1/2 pounds Sunday to seal his victory and top Vinson by 3 pounds, 7 ounces.

“That’s what it came down to – a big quality bite,” Vinson said. “My area didn’t have quite as many big fish as I’d hoped.”

Vinson showed composure Sunday from the time he dropped the trolling motor to the time he pulled it up and idled out of Little Monkey with 13-7 in his livewell. He was calm and relaxed throughout the day, and why wouldn’t he be? Everything went right except the big bites.

“It’s sort of cliché, but when you know you did your best, it’s hard to be upset about it,” Vinson said. “I made the right decisions. No mistakes. I fished excellent, and you usually can’t say that about a tournament. It would’ve been the ultimate to win. But to be recognized as a top competitor … knowing it came down to one day to win the Bassmaster Classic, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Vinson’s best day was Friday, when fish started moving into his small pocket. Warming water temperatures put bass in search of spawning areas, and Vinson picked them off like an all-pro cornerback, hauling in 17-12 for Day One’s second-best stringer.

He caught 16-12 Saturday to go into Sunday in second place, just a pound off Lane’s lead. But a cool night kept the big spawners from moving up in time for Vinson to cash in.

“If the nights hadn’t been as cool, more fish would’ve moved up,” Vinson said. “I thought there would be more coming, but the nights were just too cool for that.”

Vinson searched for fish with a 5/16-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait in white and chartreuse. He had altered the bait by installing a larger back blade to allow him to kill the bait with ease. He also fished NetBait Baby Paca Craws, NetBait Salt Licks and a Bandit 100 crankbait in chartreuse and black. A handful of his fish came off spawning beds, but most of Sunday’s fish came on the blade. His biggest spate of activity was late Sunday afternoon, when water temperatures warmed and a steady breeze stacked fish against the bank in the back of his area.

Despite the bridesmaid finish, Vinson was still showing his considerable composure after Sunday’s weigh-in, pointing to the positives and frequently talking about his wife and their brand new baby boy who was born three weeks ago.

“In the end, it’s just a bass tournament,” Vinson said. “I can take a lot out of this. I gained a lot of experience and I’ll have a ton of confidence going into the Elite Series. I have confidence that I can compete at the highest level. If I can do this in the biggest tournament in the world, I can win any tournament.”