TULSA, Okla.— Greg Vinson’s alarm clock sounded at 4:30 a.m. Almost two weeks after the night he suffered a tournament-threatening concussion in a Montgomery, Ala., movie theater, Vinson woke up, got behind the wheel of his black-and-gold NetBait Phoenix and caught a limit to put himself in contention in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.
When the final fish crossed the stage at Tulsa’s BOK Center, the four-time Bassmaster Classic competitor had totaled 18 pounds and one ounce of bass en route to an incredible second place finish on Day 1. It was a weigh-in that nearly never happened at all thanks to an injury that saw Vinson in the arms of paramedics and the under the watchful eye medical experts 14 days ago.
“I feel like a normal person again,” Vinson beamed from inside the BOK Center. “I feel good. I still have occasional headaches, but after the first day of practice I knew I was going to be alright.”
The Alabama native credits his first day of practice for bringing back his confidence. “That first day on the water was really important to me to see what my limitations might be and to understand how much I might have to rest. I went pretty hard that day, but I felt like I was making good decisions, and everything went pretty smooth.”
And just like practice last week, Friday went “pretty smooth” for Vinson, as he started Day 1 at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees by landing four fast keepers—three of them almost consecutively— at the second spot he hit. “I started slow early this morning on an area that stood out from practice. When I didn’t get anything there, I moved a little bit and hit another stretch and put those four in pretty quick.”
Like most Classic anglers, Vinson isn’t keen to reveal his strategy yet, but says he’s confident in the pattern he found in practice, and he’s hoping to ride it all the way through Sunday.
“Fortunately, I got through today. I’m not leading, but I’m in the hunt.”
For Vinson, after nearly—and literally—being knocked out of contention before the tournament ever started, being in second place after the end of Day 1 is a ‘pretty smooth’ place to be.