CELEBRATION, Fla. — Known as Florida fisheries experts and backed by strong seasons on the Bassmaster Elite Series, both Florida pros Terry Scroggins and Chris Lane are considered by pundits as favorites to win next week's Sunshine Showdown presented by Allstate Boat Insurance on Lake Tohopekaliga of Kissimmee, Fla.
Scroggins and Lane agree with the prognosticators: When pressed to pinpoint their top competition for the tournament, they named each other.Said Scroggins: "Chris Lane — he's from down that way, and will be tough to beat."Said Lane: "My biggest competition is going to be Terry Scroggins. I owe Terry one, he's beat me twice there."
Scroggins, who hails from Palatka, Fla., has scored four BASS victories in Florida, including two on the sprawling Kissimmee chain in central Florida, which includes Toho. Lane, who lives in Winter Haven, and claims the Kissimmee chain as his home water, has posted a fifth and 16th on the chain."I've always wanted to win a big tournament on my home lake — that's every angler's dream," said Lane, 32.Lane's sole BASS victory was on Florida's largest bass fishery, Lake Okeechobee, in a 2006 Open-level event.
Neither pro needs to play it safe to ensure a berth in the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Scroggins is fifth in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings and Lane is 15th, well above the cutline (37) to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic berth. The Feb. 22-24 Classic on South Carolina's Lake Hartwell would be Scroggins' fifth and Lane's first.
Angler of the Year focuse
The Bassmaster Elite Series will wind down its season with the finale on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga Sept. 13-16 and ESPNOutdoors.com will, as always, provide comprehensive coverage. Additionally, for the final event, the Web site will house daily photo galleries chronicling every significant moment from on the water for both Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year contenders, Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam.
Starting today, the site will also post daily audio blogs from each contender, covering the preparation elements for the season-ending tournaments. Content will also include daily stories devoted to the chase for the Angler of the Year during competition days.
Reese of Auburn, Calif., holds a commanding lead of more than 100 points over Michigan's VanDam. Fishing fans can also enjoy photo galleries, live streaming video of weigh-ins, blogs and updated photo galleries on ESPNOutdoors.com.
The two qualifying Bassmaster circuits, the Bassmaster Opens, each are down to one final event.
The September and October tournaments could make or break an angling career. Although the points awarded at each event carry equal weight, pros know they're down to their last chance to qualify for the top echelon of tournament competition, the Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Classic.
Sept. 27-29 in Del Rio, Texas, is the final 2007 Bassmaster Central Open event. Pros entered in the Central Open finale are hoping the big fish of Lake Amistad will help them amass enough points to snag one of three 2008 Bassmaster Classic spots that come from the Central Open. The five pros with the most points will qualify to compete at the Elite level in 2008.
Oct. 18-20 in Decatur, Ala., the Bassmaster Southern Open circuit wraps up. Pros are looking forward to getting on Lake Wheeler as their last chance for one of three Classic spots that channel through the Southern Open series. The five pros with the most points become eligible in 2008 to advance to the Elite Series.
Also upcoming is the season finale for the Women's Bassmaster Tour on Sept. 20-22 in Shreveport/Bossier City, La., the fifth of five events for the Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats. At stake at the Red River event for pros are 12 berths for the 2007 Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship. Also, one angler will leave Louisiana as the new Toyota Women's Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year.
Pound and inches
Tim Horton's and Kelly Jordon's locks are growing ever longer.
The two Bassmaster Elite Series pros announced earlier this season they were out this year for inches of hair, as well as pounds of fish. Their goal is to donate to Locks for Love, a non-profit organization that collects cut hair used to make wigs for kids undergoing cancer treatments. Locks for Love asks for tresses 10 inches or longer. "I've got about 3 inches to go," said Horton, a blond.
The third man?
It's a long shot, but possible that the winner of the 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race will be neither of the two frontrunners, Skeet Reese of California and Kevin VanDam of Michigan.
California's Jared Lintner still has a chance at the coveted title and its $125,000 prize.
Going into the Sept. 13-16 Sunshine Showdown, which is the final event of the 2007 season, Reese leads the standings with 2,579 points, while VanDam is second with 2,472 points, and Lintner third with 2,276 points.
That's a 107-point deficit for VanDam and 303 points that Lintner would have to make up.
A tournament win is worth 300 points. Five bonus points are awarded to the pro at the top of each day's leaderboard. In a wire-to-wire win of a four-day Elite event, netting 320 points is possible.
If Lintner pulled off a victory, getting only the bonus points for leading on the final day, he'd amass 305 points to add to his running total. If Reese and VanDam both failed to catch a legal fish, thus scoring zero points at the Toho event, Lintner would come out on top.
Alton Jones' largest bass was recorded on camera.
The Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Waco, Texas, said he boated an 11-pounder in 1990 from home-state lake Richland Chambers Reservoir.
"I was filming a TV show, and we had really struggled all day," Jones said. "But I knew I could catch some 3-pounders off this one deep point that never had any big fish on it. So we pulled up on the spot, and on the first cast I caught an 11. The camera got it."I've probably caught 60 10-pounders, but that was the only one to hit the 11-pound mark."
Jones said the lunker came from 18 feet of water on a Texas-rigged worm in the then-popular color of motor oil.
Watching the Bassmaster Classic on ESPN2 is high on Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Clay Condrey's "must" list.
When asked how he would have felt if he'd been the one to give up the MLB record-shattering 756th home run to Barry Bonds, Condrey told MLB.com, "I probably wouldn't have a TV after that. I wouldn't want to see it. I'd bust all the TVs, then have to rent one for the Bassmaster Classic."