Daily Limit: Classic close culls


B.A.S.S. photo

Keith Poche was the first man out of the Classic, just one point behind the last man in.


While Andy Montgomery reveled in his 11th-hour catches that helped him qualify for the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, others who just missed can pinpoint the instance that kept them out.

There were four anglers easily within striking distance, but fate, misfortune or folley flipped them a fickle finger, basically saying, “Forget you,” or something very close.

Montgomery finished 39th in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings, and, at the time, was the last man into the Classic. His 651 points accumulated through the 10 Elite Series tournaments put him one point ahead of Ish Monroe, who later received a Classic berth when a Bass Pro Shops Open spot was left vacant.

Next in line were Keith Poche (649 points), Fred Roumbanis (648), Tommy Biffle (646) and Chris Lane (644), who all finished seven points or less back of Montgomery. We asked each if they could provide one single instance that prevented them from looking forward to fishing Lake Conroe in March.


The race for the final Classic spots always comes down to the last event, the AOY Championship, and Poche could say just another five ounces there would have been the difference. But he said it was a point early in the year that was his demise.

“It is a combination of all year,” he said. “We’d probably fish a lot differently if we had a different outcome early in the season. We could always speculate. It all comes down to the last event, but if I had to pick one, it would be Bull Shoals/Norfork.

“I went from third place to 48th place in one day. I zeroed the third day. I knew I wasn’t getting many bites, but they were all good ones. I had five keeper fish bite on that day. If I get any of those fish in, I don’t fall as far.”

Landing just one of the estimated 3-pounders would have moved Poche up four spots, giving him the necessary points. A bag comparable to either of his first two days would have had him vying for the title. Instead, that one awful day in the third event of the season ended up killing his chance to reach his second Classic.

“I missed it by one point. One point!” he said. “I probably would have tied with Ish, and probably won the tiebreaker.”

Two 15-plus bags on Norfork then Bull Shoals put Poche within four ounces of co-leaders Chris Zaldain and Bill Lowen. Using the same jig as the previous days, he said he had five decent bites on Day 3. But zip. Zilch. Nada. He said he could not figure out why he couldn’t land one.

“It just wasn’t my day,” he said. “I don’t know. It come off, got hung up, pulled off, broke off. It just wasn’t my day, for whatever reason.”

Yes, stuff happens for no reason. Sometimes you know the exact reason.