- Steve Bowman, Outdoors
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EVANS, Ga. Looking at Matt Reed's performance in the Bassmaster Elite Series Pride of Georgia, you might think he would start lobbying for five-day tournaments.
Reed started the event in 45th with 9 pounds, 9 ounces. He was in 40th on Day Two after catching 10-0. And on Day Three he launched into 12th place with a 12-7 stringer. He put the exclamation point on it all with the biggest final-day limit totaling 15-13.
One more day and Reed's late-charge antics might have been enough to put him over the top, if not for one thing: "I really don't want to have to go out there again,'' Reed said. "This place is eventually going to get you."
Reed, though, had one of those storybook and textbook events. From the standpoint of getting stronger each day, conventional wisdom holds that building stringers like that will always put you near the winner's circle.
The other book, the storybook, the one that has luck and fantasy storylines in it, reads completely different.
Reed and fellow finalist Mark Davis shared water during the entire event. Davis caught them early and fizzled, while Reed reversed the trend, by basically doing whatever Davis didn't do.
On the first day of the event, Davis started on a long-running point and quickly sacked more than 14 pounds of fish. On Day Two, Davis returned and never got a bite.
"I have no idea what happened to them,'' Davis said. "They just weren't there. I went to Plan B and caught a smaller limit."
Pride of Georgia
Meanwhile, Reed was on his Plan B, which included the point Davis had been fishing. As Day Three opened Davis was one of the first boats out of the gate and he ran straight by the point he had started on for the previous two days, opting instead to land on Plan B instead of his primary point.
"I didn't catch anything, so I run to that point and there's Reed,'' Davis recalls. "He says, 'you're too late, I've already caught about 12 pounds."
Davis just laughed it off. He went to Plan C and scratched out enough weight to stay in the final 12. Reed's weight was good enough to go slip in a three-way tie for 12th and his three limits and final day stringer were big enough to have him qualify.
"So I start on the original point,'' Davis said. "I get there first and Matt comes around me and starts on the other point, the point I had started on the day before."
"It was just one of those deals,'' Reed said. "We fish fine around each other and you just get where the other one isn't."
As Reed's luck would go, he immediately started catching fish.
"I had a limit at 6:50 a.m.,'' he said.
"Every time I looked over there he was bowed up and then circling the boat like (David) Fritts,'' Davis joked with Reed behind the stage, both of them laughing at each other and the quirky nature of this sport.
"I wanted to throw up. I had to leave," Davis laughed.
Each agreed that the fish were on an every-other-day pattern and Davis' good first day threw him out of the rotation, while Reed's slow start allowed him to fish by the seat of his pants and make the right decisions to continue climbing up the standings.
"This is a funny sport sometime,'' Reed said.
31mMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
2hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins
1dEric D. Williams