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Putting the spotlight on BASSfest

Putting the spotlight on BASSfest

It’s time to go back to work.

I’ve enjoyed a festive week, celebrating Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, attended my sons’ high school graduation, sat in on their college orientation and attended a half dozen graduation parties for family and friends.

I was very fortunate that our Elite schedule broke in time to give me the opportunity to see my twins, Jackson and Nicholas, graduate from high school, and now they’re prepping for college life at Grand Valley State in Grand Rapids, Mich.

But now it’s business as usual and time to focus on Lake Texoma, site of next week’s GEICO Bassmaster BASSfest.

The tournament should be interesting as Lake Texoma will offer a level playing field. No one should have an advantage because the lake has been flooded most of the spring. It’s a totally different lake from what we expected this time of year.

It’s more than 4 feet above summer pool with more rain expected. Under normal conditions we could expect the fish to be in deep summer patterns, but the high water will put a number of patterns in play. The fish could be anywhere, and next week’s practice will be critical.

It will be a challenging event which has been the case the entire 2016 Elite Series season. But when you put the best bass anglers in the world on any body of water, someone always figures out where to catch the quality fish.

I’ve only been to Texoma once and that was early in my career for a Bassmaster Invitational. I didn’t pre-fish before the cut-off, but the lake was 7 feet high at that time. I’ll just make the most of my three practice days and do my best to get dialed in.

The lake is best known for its striped bass fishing but it has a good population of largemouth and a few smallmouth and spotted bass. My hunch is that if a guy is to win, he’ll do it with largemouth.

BASSfest has become the second largest event of the year for touring pros (behind the Classic) and is extremely popular among the fans. It’s a festival atmosphere with weigh-ins conducted at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant.

The event includes a huge Expo that attracts more than 40 exhibitors who will be offering giveaways and fun activities for the entire family. There is no admission fee.

Everyone fishes Wednesday and Thursday and the field will be cut to 50 on Friday. No one fishes Saturday, a day when most of the Elite pros will be at the Expo conducting how-to seminars and signing autographs at their respective sponsor booths.

I’ll be there the entire time to meet the public at my sponsors’ booths.

On Sunday, the Top 12 leaders from Friday will compete in the finals.

There will be other fishing activities as well.

More than 40 college teams will compete on Lake Murray in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the winner earning a berth in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship.

Also on Saturday the Bassmaster High School All American Fishing team will participate in a special tournament on Lake McGee. Each of the All-Americans will be paired with an Elite Series pro and weigh in at the Casino Resort.

As you can see, BASSfest offers a true festival atmosphere with lots of things for fans to see and do.

For Elite pros, it’s a critical tournament as the winner gets an automatic berth into next year’s Bassmaster Classic. It’s also a time to earn valuable Bassmaster Classic points as we head down the stretch with an eye on the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship in September.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!