- Kevin Short
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I really like the format for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic. Four man teams, two guys in the boat for four hours each session, and everyone working together to catch as many big Lake Fork bass as they can.
Back in "tha' day" a lot of the current pro's fished team derbies for the simple fact that there were so many team tournaments held and in the late 90's, a consistent team could make a fair amount of money throughout the course of the year. Yeah, that's right, not all of us shot up the charts to superstardom in our first year on the trail. Quite a few of us worked our way up the food chain by putting our pants on one leg at a time.
So here we are at the TTBC, which may be the biggest team tournament there is. How can you argue with a $750,000 payback with $250,000 going to the winning team? Can you top that? This is like, the ultimate team derby in terms of players and payout. Cool stuff.
My team? Jeff Kriet (El Capitan), Mark Rose (fellow Arkie), James Niggemeyer (fellow BassCatter), and myself. Pretty salty team, if I can be so bold. James was on the winning team last year at the inaugural TTBC, so he has a good idea of what it takes to bring home the bacon. Another major plus for our team is the fact that both James and Kriet have spent quite a few days between them guiding on Fork.
Practice was pretty slow for me. I've never really caught them very well at Fork. I've caught quite a few fish, but never really figured out what I need to do to consistently catch the bigger fish. That changed this week.
Kriet figured out how to catch them. Better yet, he figured out where and with what to catch the big fish. I like that about Kriet. The TTBC is all about winning. Swing for the fence. Play large or go home. This is one of those derbies where you want to be in the top 5 when the cut is made or at the very least, the top 10, as the money from 11th through 26th is the same amount.
James and Mark took the first session on Friday. Pretty raw morning with temps in the 40's and a stiff 20 mph northwest wind. Not a beautiful day on Fork. They managed to scrape up almost 19 pounds, which had us 40 pounds behind the leaders at the end of the first round. Sounds like an insurmountable obstacle, but hey, this is Lake Fork. A couple of the right bites and you're back in the game.
"Dude, just reel it. Don't work it; just wind it in as slow as you can stand." Kriet starts every sentence with the word "dude."
"Dude, don't jerk when you feel one get it, just keep windin' and lean into him."
After Kriet had called me on Tuesday and clued me into where the fish were positioned, I had caught several in the 4 to 5 pound class on a big crankbait (imagine that, me throwing a crankbait). We started out the PM session with him throwing a swimbait and me on the crank. Kriet caught one on the swimmer, then had several misses. It was time for me to tie on the swimmer.
I got my instructions on the finer points of swimbait fishing in the two sentences above. Dude.
"Dude, don't work it, just wind it straight in." I'm pumping the rod, starting and stopping the bait; trying to give it some action. Any moron that's watched a swimbait in the water can see that they have all the action that they need without any help from the jerk on the other end of the line.
I finally put the butt of the St. Croix Mega Swimbait stick under my armpit, pointed the rod at the bait, and wound it in as slow as I could stand. KA-CHUNK!!
"Dude, I'm bit!" It's a 4 1/2 and he has the hook in the back of his throat. My first swimbait fish!!
KA-CHUNK!! KA-CHUNK!! KA-CHUNK!! KA-CHUNK!!
In the four hours of our afternoon session, I've caught my first limit of swimbait fish that weighed in at 26 pounds 4 ounces, including one that was 7 1/2 and I'm addicted. There is really no other bite on any other bait that I've fished that is quite like the bite of a 4, 5, or 7 pounder coming up behind a big swimbait. I can't wait to get back out there this afternoon with Kriet and really crush 'em.
"Dude, don't jerk; just wind it."
Dude, I'm shaking just thinking about it.
For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his website at www.kfshort.com.