Once again it has been a while since I have given everyone an update,
but the end of last year and early this year have been some tough
months for me, making sacrifices I’d rather never have had to do in my
life and trying to gather every cent I possibly could just to be able
to make it back to the U.S. and give my dream another shot at making
the Bassmaster Elites and fishing against the best Bass anglers in the
I’ve had to exhaust every avenue I had from what I had built up through
my life and along with the help from good mate Steve Tavier I’m back
here for now, watching every cent I have hoping just to make it through
the season. This game is extremely tough and expensive, but it’s what
runs through my veins and I’m going to do everything I can to get there.
January I left Australia flew into Dallas, then Tulsa and was met by good mate and U.S. Bass Pro Fred Roumbanis. We went back to his and Julie’s home where my truck and boat awaited me. Waking up the next morning, I found my truck Covered in snow. I’d just left heat wave conditions in Australia straight into the minuses here – it was a rude shock to the system!
The next day I was packing my gear getting the truck serviced making sure everything was ready for the long 2 day drive ahead of me to Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida just outside of Orlando, the first of the Bassmaster Southern Opens.
Having never driven to Florida or fished it before it was a daunting task to get there and try to be competitive and only having 3 days to pre fish it, I knew I was in for a rough few days, but I’m always positive and it wasn’t going to be from lack of trying.
The Bassmaster Opens are one of, if not the toughest bass tournament series in the world, now that there is a Bassmaster Classic berth up for grabs for first place. You have half the Bassmaster Elite field there trying get an early entry to the Classic, then you have the hard core guys of the sport who are travelling around trying to make the Elites, and finally the last half of the field are locals that have lived on that lake most of their lives and will enter that one round just for the money. Yep it’s tough.
Harris Chain of Lakes is made up of 9 lakes which all join together with long 5mph canals. I was given some spots to check out which entailed huge runs doing max speed over inches of water into tight hard turns at the start of skinny Canals, then up to 40minutes at idle speed followed by hundreds of metres of pushing the boat over inches of water with a push pole just to get into the clear back water creeks. As I entered each one of these after all that work and commitment I would be greeted by 10 to 15 other boats already in their checking it out. I knew then I was on my own to go try find them myself in this massive body of water.
After 3 big days practice I had found some fish, I left boat 26 on the first day and it took me just over an hour to get to my first spot, long idle zones, locking through a small 9 boat lock, all to get to the most distant lake from the take off.
On the second day I left boat 176th and it took me just over 2 hours to get there after waiting for boats to get through the lock. Once again I was within a few hundred metres of the two guys that came 1st and 2nd – Clifford Pirch and now Bassmaster Classic Champion Chris Lane.
Unfortunately I was just off what was happening. It hurts when you can be so close but so far. My non boater had Big Bass on day one and as I started to work them out it was too late and it resulted in a bad finish.
Calling Fred on the way home again he reassured me I’m knocking on the door being so close so many times to the winning fish it’s a matter of time till it swings my way. I was hoping to fish all nine of the Opens but I’m going to miss the next two Southerns, as I’m not likely of making the Elites through them after the bad finish and I need to be smart with the money I have to get me through this year. So ill be putting my all into the three Centrals and three Northern Opens.
Packing up the next day is hard to do after a bad finish you repeat over and over what you could have done different but the best cure is get back out on the water and start catching them again.
I stopped in Orlando for the night and watched the final weigh in at Bass Pro shops and witnessed Chris Lane blow the field away and get a ticket into the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, there were hundreds of fans there cheering it was awesome my spirits were back up quick I want to make that top 12 cut bad to fish the 3rd day and weigh in at Bass Pro. Next day I was on the road heading straight to Lake Lewisville in Texas for the first Central Open. I wasn’t wasting a minute I wanted to put as much time on this lake as I could.
After driving all day and late into the night it was time to pull over and get some sleep. I found a fuel station just outside of Birmingham, Alabama that felt safe so I pulled in and jumped in the back of my camper where I have a bed set up. I actually get great night’s sleep in there I think cause it reminds me of camping when I’m back home.
Unfortunately I was woken by Tornado sirens going off at 4 in the morning, I jumped out of my truck and ran for the servo flat out in the pouring rain and heavy winds. Everyone was watching the TV and all you could see was a red mass heading straight for where we were on the map. The weather man says for everyone to take cover in our area and as he says that the power cuts out, the manager tells everyone to get into the fridge at the back of the shop as it is most protected. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me again as another 20 truckies came running though the doors with their families. The tornado hit only a few miles from where we were and once the coast was clear I was back in my truck and getting out of there in a hurry.
I really don’t like tornados.
Before I got to Lewisville Fred and I met back up and headed to Grand Lake for one day to do some more learning on the latest technique to hit over here, the Alabama rig. This thing looks crazy but it works like you would never believe it’s made up of five swim baits on one rig. It is basically winning every single tournament around the country and has caused a lot of controversy over here.
You can basically throw it out and wind it back and giant bass that have never been hooked just smash it. It’s so good the Bassmaster Elites have banned it. But in the Opens you can still use it so I’ve been putting allot of time into it. Basically no fish has ever been hooked when attacking a bait school just individual fish like a swimbait, so any fish that sees it seems to eat it. I have found a lot of new things that I’m really excited about bringing back into Australia. I will keep you informed with how they are doing when we put them to the test.
Arriving at lake Lewisville I had 10 big days on the water to figure them out, after doing allot of research on the Lake I knew it typically fished tough even in good conditions. Well it was about to get tougher the lake came up 6 feet over night turning the lake to mud and then 2 huge cold fronts followed. About as tough of conditions as you could possibly ask for in bass fishing. Every morning I had more layers of clothing on then I’d ever had on along with hand warmers, body warmers and feet warmers and that just made it bearable.
On some mornings there would be solid ice going from the back of my boat to the ground and every rod locker frozen shut. I went days sometimes day light till dark without catching a single fish, but I knew that if I didn’t give up and could find them this would be the one to do well in!
I had found a few fish in different areas and was undecided what to do; fish the deep fish or up shallow? After drawing my non boater for day one and discussing the conditions he gave me the confidence to fish my strengths, which was fishing a Bassman spinnerbait in two feet of water.
It was an awesome tournament for me sitting in 6th position on day one, I was ecstatic and could not wait to get out there the next day.
Another cold front came through that night and the next day it blew four foot waves into everything I had, so I scrambled all day and ran the pattern I was fishing all over the lake for one bite. Still I was super happy with how I fished and the decisions I made. In the tough conditions I dropped just outside of the 12 cut to 15th out of the 189 boat field. This has given me a world of confidence and a great chance of making the Elites through the Central Opens for 2013.
Since then I have been down to Shreveport Louisiana to watch and support Fred in the Bassmaster Classic it is just an insane experience just to be there to watch let alone fish it. Fred had a tough tournament but he had family, friends and fans from all over the world come to watch him, he is a real inspiration for me to one day be in his position and have my family and friends over to see me fish in the Classic is the pinnacle and driving force behind everything I do.
From there I’ve been up to Kilgore, Texas the home of the Skeeter factory to pick up my brand new Skeeter FX and 250 Yamaha SHO. This thing is a weapon and by far the greatest boat I have ever had the opportunity of fishing out of. The support from Skeeter America along with Josh Batterson at Skeeter Australia has been unreal, Skeeter believes in me and have got behind me again for 2012 which I will be forever grateful for.
Hooking the boat up to the F250 truck that Casey sponsored me with is simply a dream, wether I’m on the water at daylight exploring a new Lake for an upcoming tournament or in my truck with 2000 miles ahead of me its where I’m at home I love it and having this truck and boat rig has made things a lot easier. Being by myself I can’t afford for anything to break down, these give me the confidence that I’ll get there and back every time I head out.
Right now I’m at Lake Eufaula in Oklahoma about to pre fish tomorrow for a team’s tournament on the weekend, I’m lucky enough to be fishing with Basszone Website writer Matt Pangrac. The tournament is worth 20 thousand dollars for first. I hate to think about the money as that’s not why I’m here but unfortunately the money is what keeps me here so I’m hoping for a good finish, as a win would reassure id get through this season and also allow me to get Power Poles on my boat which I desperately need.
Not having a title sponsor and almost solely relying on the funds myself makes it tough. This year is a great opportunity for someone to wrap my boat and get there name seen all over America and potentially huge exposure to the fishing world, especially if I happen to win a Open or crack into the Elites, this year will be cheap compared to what it would cost if I make it to the Elites. I think most are seeing if I have what it takes and waiting to see if I make it first but there is a huge opportunity for a company right now.
Well I have some tackle to rig and need an early night for a big day on the water tomorrow, this Lake is known as the gentle giant as it’s the biggest Lake in Oklahoma and also the most dangerous, it should be interesting, right now there is a strong wind warning out but I’m really pumped to get out there.
Thank you to everyone who supports me and what I’m doing I hope you enjoy following my adventures, I’ll be keeping everyone up to date more often so until then Fish Hard.