Andy Montgomery almost had a cow, then he actually saved one.
The fifth-year Elite Series angler sweated through September on the way to becoming the last man into the Classic. Then when he got home to Blacksburg, S.C., Montgomery was called upon to conduct a search/rescue of a newborn calf on his father’s farm that left him physically drained.
The mental strain of worrying about qualifying for his third Classic was definitely more taxing, he said.
“The last two tournaments, I never had an easy day on the water,” Montgomery said. “Every day was a struggle and I caught some key fish very, very late. I’m kind of semi-proud of myself, to be honest with you.”
He should be. Montgomery staved off a salty bunch and finished 39th in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings, which at the time was last man into the Classic via the points. His 651 points were one ahead of Ish Monroe, who since has received a Classic berth when a Bass Pro Shops Open spot was left vacant.
Montgomery said he can see how another fish here or there for Monroe, Keith Poche (649) or Fred Roumbanis (648) could have propelled any or all ahead of him. Montgomery was just glad it was his catches that turned the tide, even if they added to the tension by waiting until late in the day.
“It was really a pretty stressful two weeks, I guess you could say,” he said.
That stress began in the Mississippi River event. He was 37th in points and sitting pretty to advance to the AOY Championship on Mille Lacs, but he could have lost a chunk of points on the second day when things weren’t going well.
“It’s easy when you catch a good limit early in the morning, but when you know you have so much on the line — a Classic — and at noon you don’t have a fish, it can be nerve-wracking for sure,” he said. “My first fish was at 12:30. I had only five minutes to go and only three fish, then on back-to-back flips in the last five minutes I caught two to make the Top 50 cut.”
Montgomery took 43rd at La Crosse, maintaining his position in the standings as the top 50 in points headed to Mille Lacs. With the big bag estimations and a tight grouping near the bubble, he went into a pressure cooker seemingly about to boil over each of the three days. The stress grew when he didn’t land any of his first fish until after 9:30 a.m.
“You felt like you almost had to catch 25 a day,” he said. “I didn’t, but I still made it.
“The first two days were a struggle. The first day, with 30 minutes to go, I only had four, and one was a 13-incher. I caught two 4 ½-pounders in the last 30 minutes. One was with 5 minutes to go and culled a 13-incher.”
Montgomery was holding his AOY spot, but he had a subpar Day 2 with 16 pounds before sealing the deal with a final day 20-7 bag.
“Day 2 was pretty disappointing day, but I learned a lot,” he said. “It got slick and calm and I learned I could fish them drop-shotting. I needed every fish, for sure.”
CALLING COWS LIKE RIC FLAIR
With his Classic bid in hand, Montgomery was relaxing at home when his father called asking for help. Montgomery’s father keeps about 20 cows on 82 acres as a hobby and one pregnant cow went through a hole in the fence onto someone else’s 250-acre plot to give birth.
“She could have went a long way,” said Montgomery, who added the cow was like Lassie showing them where Timmy was in the well. “When you call them, they come, and they’ll always take you back to the calf.”
Umm, how’s that? How do you call a cow?
“Kind of like what Ric Flair does, ‘Woo!.’”
Kinda like calling the Razorbacks? Woo pig?
“Instead of ‘Woo pig,’ you go ‘Woo pet.’ You can call them a lot of different ways, just whatever you train them,” he said. “Whenever he feeds them, he hollers so they get accustomed to it, they know they’re going to get fed. They come running when you holler – don’t matter how far.”
This cow came but kept turning back for her calf, which was found over hill and dale.
“She had just been born and couldn’t walk, so I had to carry her,” Montgomery said.
On his Facebook page, he described hauling the 50-pound newborn several hundred yards “through a briar thicket a beagle wouldn’t go in, crossed a creek a deer would think twice about crossing, and up a hill a goat wouldn’t climb.”
Montgomery said he powered through the calf run, not realizing how exhausted he was until he got her back where she belonged.
“It was pretty tiring for sure,” he said. “I’m glad she didn’t raise her tail and take a dump.”
FARM TO FEET DOES WHAT?
So, this farm have something to do with your primary sponsor, Farm to Feet?
“No, it’s a sock company,” Montgomery replied. “They make high quality wool socks.”
Ohmigosh, type, type, Google, they sure do. Apparently nice ones, with merino wool that makes them high end. The company sells under its name at numerous outdoors outlets like Bass Pro, Gander Mountain and REI. Its products are all American made and touted by the likes of hiking web sites.
Montgomery fished with the owner of Nester Hosiery, which is out of Mount Airy, N.C., in 2012 and hooked up on the sponsorship a couple years ago. He said he didn’t realize socks could make such a difference, from standing all day fishing to running the woods wrangling calves.
“I kind of always bought the $2 pair at Walmart till somebody give me a $20 pair,” he said. “They’re really, really good, too.”
CLASSIC WILL BE RECORD SETTER
Montgomery is pleased to be going back to Lake Conroe for the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. He had a second-place finish there in 2009 in the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, losing to Dave Lefebre by 4 ounces.
“I’m fishing pretty good right now, but you never know in this sport,” he said. “It’s a different time of year. It’s right around that spawning time, but it could be any stage.
“I know what kind of fish are in the lake. I’d be really, really surprised if we didn’t set records.”
The five-fish limit was set by Kevin VanDam on the Louisiana Delta in 2011 when he caught 69-11 over three days.
“I feel like that’s going to fall,” Montgomery said. “I won’t be surprised if somebody catches 30 (pounds) one day.”
He noted a story of a local catching a bag weighing more than 40 pounds, so depending on conditions, Paul Mueller’s single-day Classic record of 32-3 set on Guntersville could fall.
With 17 Conroe bass over 13 pounds on the TPWD Sharelunker list, including a best of 15.93, there’s a possibility that Preston Clark’s 11-10 record for heaviest bass in a Classic could be eclipsed.
JONESES FOURTH FATHER-SON TO FISH CLASSIC
Alton Jones Sr. couldn’t be prouder of son, Alton Jones Jr., or as dad calls him, Lil Alton, after he won this past weekend’s Central Open on the Red River. Not only will they become the fourth father-son to fish a Classic, but the younger Alton is close to securing an invitation to compete on the Elite Series, which will surely raise questions around the dock.
“Alton is really on them.”
Anyway, congratulations Alton.
And you too, Alton.
ISH WEIGHS IN ON FISHING RESPECT
A second Elite angler, Ish Monroe, has come out to say that while “no one is challenging anyone’s right to fish,” there needs to be more respect of your fellow fisherman. The cool thing is Monroe gives some tips for fans that he guarantees will help them catch more fish by taking cues from the pros – after the event, of course
OH THE PEOPLE PUT IN YOUR PATH
In his book, Bass Fishing, Brown Dogs & Curveballs, Jerry McKinnis mentioned how it seemed that important people were placed in his life’s path. His job was to determine how so.
He came up with a pretty famous one he met but missed really connecting with this past week: Hy Peskin. Peskin showed up at Bull Shoals dock and put on a fishing tournament years before Ray Scott put B.A.S.S. together.
McKinnis said he didn’t know much about Peskin, except that he was a photographer. In order to spell his name correctly for his column, McKinnis looked him up and discovered he was big time.
“This is a guy who specialized in shooting baseball greats Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio,” McKinnis said. “He has an iconic picture of Ben Hogan. He was the photographer for a picture I remember of Jack Kennedy out on a sailboat with Jacqueline Bouvier. It was on the cover of Life magazine.
“He was the first photographer that Sports Illustrated ever hired. He had boxing pictures that were on the cover of SI and Look. The guy was fascinating, and there I was right in the midst of him.”
But the brief glimmer from Peskin in McKinnis’ life had nothing to do with photos or tournament fishing.
“It got a few things going and connected me to Glen Andrews, who then became a big part of Ray Scott’s plans,” McKinnis said.
Andrews, author of An Impossible Cast, played an enormous role in getting bass fishing off the ground, and McKinnis has long called him, “Simply the greatest bass fisherman I’ve known.”
BASS PRO SHOPS TO COMBINE WITH CABELA’S
We began writing about a possible merger last year, and it finally went through. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, both sponsors of B.A.S.S. and many of its pro anglers, have entered into an agreement where BPS will acquire Cabela’s for $65.50 per share. That’s about a $5.5 billion transaction. We’ll have to wait and see how the storefront transitions will go down.