Just like all the other teams fishing at the 2015 Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship, Woo Daves and his partner Keith Estes earned their place among the 197 teams competiting on Lake Guntersville.
Daves, of Spring Grove, Va., will be turning 70 in April. "I'd really like to make one more Classic before my time is up." he said. "I spent a great deal of time touring on the top level, and at my age, I just don't think that would be a good idea. I've been fishing the Opens over the last couple of years–and I've come close to winning a time or two–but I'm not looking to revamp my career as a full time pro. I love to fish tournaments, but another chance to fish the big show would be an accomplishment that very few men my age can claim. That's my goal."
Having competed in 286 professional bass tournemants, made 17 trips to the Classic and winning one on Lake Michigan out of Chicago in 2000, Daves is determined to stay in the game as long as he possibly can. "I still do seminars and spend as much time as I can on the water, which is exactly how I wanted my retirement to go. I'll be honest, it's hard to quit competiting in tournaments, but I still feel pretty good and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.
"I spend a great deal of time hunting, which is a real passion for my family and I. I've got 20 rabbit dogs, my son has 25 deer-hunting dogs and I was just in Louisiana duck hunting. I should have been up here practicing, I reckon," the seasoned veteran laughed after a tough Day 1 on Guntersville. He and his partner weighed two fish for just under four pounds.
He said that they had a good first day of practice and found some quality fish, but the water conditions were muddy and high. Since, the lake level has receded about eight inches and it has cleared up quite a bit, which he said flattened his pattern.
"I've caught some very nice stringers on this lake," he continued. "In fact, I caught a 29-pound bag that got me back into the Classic, but that's been a while. This lake can be outstanding one day, and completely shut down the next. As today's weights showed, some guys are finding them while others are struggling. I guess it just wasn't my time. But, that's one of the reasons this sport is so great: At most tournaments it can be anybody's turn to weigh the bag of a lifetime. And, Guntersville is the kind of place where that happens regularly."
Daves made it clear that he and Estes will fish hard tomorrow and hopefully find the fish they were on during practice. Regardless, he's still having a lot of fun–even at a spry 69 years of age. Don't be fooled by today's performance; Woo Daves is still a force to be reckoned with on any lake where the largemouth swims.