The $150,000 top prize of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic slipped through Dave Lefebre’s hands last month, so it’s no surprise he went home feeling sick – figuratively and literally.
“I lost a 5 and two really big ones,” the first-year Elite Series angler said. “It was the worst day of my life.”
Lefebre left the Lone Star State for home in Erie, Pa., where he spent the next 10 days ill, including three in bed with upper respiratory crud. Before heading back for this week’s BASSfest, Lefebre still had a cough as nagging as the thought of losing those fish. He finished fifth behind winner Matt Herren, but he could have won if not for several big fish escaping his hooks. It started with a 5-pounder then he failed to bring in two lunkers that would have won the big bass award and its big prize.
“I had the Toyota Tundra swim off. An 8-pounder ate the bait in half. It was the truck for sure,” he said. “Then five minutes later, I hooked a 9-plus and it got hung up in a tree.”
Those misses would have pushed his 14-8 final day bag closer to 30 and easily made up his 5-pound deficit to Herren. Lefebre finished with 46-12, the identical weight he had in winning the 2009 TTBC on Lake Conroe.
In all, Lefebre said he had a decent foray into Texas, where he made his fourth consecutive Elite cut with a 17th on Toledo Bend. That was a week before the TTBC on Lake Ray Roberts north of Dallas.
“I like that place. I like Texas,” he said. “I’m sick that I started 96th in the first one on St. Johns, but the last four tournaments, I climbed my way back up to 11th in the standings.”
He took 15th at Winyah Bay and 33rd at Bull Shoals/Norfork, but his bid to win at Wheeler Lake (second) sent notice that the former FLW pro switched circuits for more than a berth in the Bassmaster Classic.
“I’m looking at Angler of the Year now,” he said. “I think we’re 70 points out now and we’re halfway through the season.”
That certainly has Lefebre feeling better.
JOLLY JOKERS ON HIGH WATER
Elite anglers practicing Sunday on Lake Texoma had a little fun with the high water. Hank Cherry posted a video of an inundated campsite, the only thing showing among treetops was roofs of picnic areas.
“There’ll be no picnicking here at all,” Cherry said. “The water right now is about 8 1/2 (feet high) … But it’s fun. Fish are biting a little bit. Lots of stuff to throw at … negative on picnics, not going to happen.”
Andy Montgomery gave his take, a Facebook video showed him flipping toward the restroom doors as if to knock and see if they were occupied. He wrote: “I can’t figure out if they are on the men’s side or the women’s. I know there is (sic) some swamp donkeys floating around one side!”
He is talking big fish, I hope.
ALTON DISHES ON TEXOMA
Alton Jones gives very forthcoming updates on his Facebook page, and his look at Lake Texoma was enlightening. He said water clarity, with mud lowering visibility to under 10 inches in many areas, will make the lake fish small this week.
“There’s a lot of the lake that’s totally not fishable. There’s a reason they call it the Red River,” he said. “The hard part isn’t getting a bite, it’s finding an area where you can get a lot of bites.”
While he’s figured out techniques and baits that are enticing bites, he said many other competitors have dialed in similarly and they’re running over each other at areas where there’s clearer water.
JUST LIKE DAD
The McClellands aren’t too happy with the results, but they played out the old “just like Dad” during the Bass Pro Shops Central Open on the Arkansas River out of Muskogee, Okla.
Longtime Elite Mike McClelland finished 96th with a two-day total of 13 pounds, 2 ounces. So just like dad, McClelland’s son, Justin, finished with the exact same weight, albeit a spot back in 97th. The elder won the tiebreaker of the larger one-day weight, not that any of that mattered.
DIRTY HARRY WOULD LOVE SKYLAR
As Dirty Harry said, “That’s a hell of a price to pay for being stylish.” Tennessee guide and pro Skylar Hamilton cared nothing about style and that’s sending him to the Classic.
Hamilton, riding in a green aluminum boat with a 70-hp motor, took a slow but steady ride to victory in last weekend’s Open. While others got stuck in the mud, Hamilton hit all sorts of skinny water, where he caught the winning fish and tentatively qualified for the 2017 Bassmaster Classic.
James Overstreet’s photo of Hamilton wasn’t his most stylish of the weekend either, but it tells his story.
- It’s all relative. “I certainly empathize with those people who’ve lost property or, worse, family members to the flooding. However, I refuse to complain about too much rain,” said Craig Bonds, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Fisheries Director to the Tyler Morning Telegraph for this article. “The memory of drought and its effects are still relatively fresh in my mind. A surplus of water can bring its own challenges, but I’ll take it over devastating drought any year.”
- A fishing get-together of Vanderbilt baseball teammates turned tragic Thursday when freshman pitcher Donny Everett drowned in Normandy Lake. See the story in The Tennessean.