Smoke on the water: Fishing is my passion, my job

Chevy pro Bryan Thrift waves to the crowd.

I know a lot of the more popular fishing blogs out there try and use controversy to get more views. Well, since this is my blog and we're doing things my way, we're not going that route. I'm going to shoot you straight and say what's on my mind. If that's appealing to you check back around the middle of each month for a new blog. I just finished the 2013 tournament season and overall I'm pretty pleased with how it went. I've fished ever since I was a young boy and I love it as much now as I did back then. But my mentality has changed since fishing is how I provide for my family. From that financial perspective, 2013 was a good year; I can't complain. I've been fortunate enough to make a living professionally now for seven years. I came close to winning the Forrest Wood Cup again this year, but I honestly didn't feel like I had found enough fish. Finishing third is not eating me up - especially since Randall went out and caught a big bag the final day. When I took third last year at Lanier I was probably on a stronger pattern and I didn't execute like I should have. As long as I can get a top-10 and make a big chunk of money at the end of the year I'm happy with it. Bryan Thrift splits the morning air with a pitch.Looking back to day four, I simply ran out of fish. I kind of knew my best spot was running dry but I was too chicken to leave. If I could do it all over, I would have ran down to Pool 3. I had a good spot there - it was another little brush pile on a break. I'm not going to say it was enough to beat Randall but it was probably a better idea than beating a dead horse. If Randall would have caught only 9 or 10 pounds I would really be kicking myself. The bottom line is that it's hard to do well in a tournament when you're banking on just one spot. Most of the top finishers were frog fishing in the pads. I love frog fishing, but I didn't do hardly any of it during this year's Cup. This may sound strange, but I've got this bad mental problem where I try and figure out what everyone else is going to do and then I try and do the complete opposite. If everyone else is sight-fishing, I'm going to try at least a dozen things before I sight-fish. At the Cup, I probably threw a frog for a total of 30 minutes in three days of practice. I've always been like this too. If everyone is fishing the same way, it's hard to separate yourself and I believe I'm better off looking for something that no one else is looking for. Sometimes it works and sometimes I get burned. That's essentially what happened at the Cup. I love to fish fast and cover water, but that brush pile I found in Caspiana was loaded with big ones and they would only eat a shaky head. The first day I threw up on the drop and then worked the bait down towards the pile. But eventually I learned that the fish were biting on the initial fall. In fact, I never caught a big one while I was working the bait. I was using a 6 1/2-inch Finesse Miki on the shaky head. I like it because it has a big, cupped tail. Once the shaky head makes contact with the bottom it sticks straight up and has a lot of natural action. The plastic is so soft that the bait almost moves on its own. I'd fire right in there and they'd immediately swim off with it. I'd make the same cast 50 times and on the 51st time the bass would bite as soon as the shaky head hit the bottom. That was a neat deal. It goes to show that you never know what fish are going to do; I don't care who you are. In mid-September, I had the chance to fish Clear Lake out in California as my tackle sponsor Damiki was doing their annual photoshoot. While I love fishing in the Carolinas, Clear Lake is just awesome. When you get a bite back home, you're hoping for a 3- or 4-pounder. When you get a bite on Clear Lake, you're hoping for a 6- or 7-pounder. The fishing is just incredible and the scenery is pretty cool too. I've never been anywhere like it. It's just full of 4- to 6-pounders. Everyone talks about how much pressure there is now on the California lakes, but I only saw like six boats all week. A closer look at the new Damiki Air Frog. I probably caught 40 or 50 bass a day for six straight days and 15 or 20 of those were over 5 pounds. The main goal of the shoot was to get some footage of the new Air Frog. But we caught them on everything - from the Mamba jig to the Rambler 120. Still, I was most impressed with the Air Frog. I saw this bait during the development stages and then again at ICAST in July. Now that everything is complete, I'm happy to say the bait performed with every expectation we had. It runs true and you can skip it like you wouldn't believe. There really isn't anything on the market like it. After the photoshoot I fished the TTBC on Lake Conroe in Texas. It was a fun tournament and I took 10th. I caught a lot of fish on Damiki's new squarebill crankbait - the Brute 70. I threw it some at the Red River but I never really got a crankbait bite going. At Conroe I cranked brush in 4 to 6 feet of water and the bait really excelled. So I'm excited about that for next year. Now that the season is over I've got about three months of downtime at the house. I'll fish some local stuff and spend a lot of time with my wife Allison and son Wylie. I'll also spend a lot of time at The Great Outdoors in Cherryville, N.C. The Great Outdoors is a local hunting and tackle shop that specializes in custom, homemade stuff. I've got nothing against the big-box stores, but the people at The Great Outdoors are cool and they've got a real good supply of hard-to-get Japanese tackle. I'll probably spend a couple days a week helping them out. I hate not having major tournaments in the fall - but I'm not the one making the schedule. After a couple weeks off I get the itch to go fishing again. I can't help it, that's just who I am.

Tags: blog  bryan-thrift 

/tips/2015-07-01-the-no-excuse-guide-

The "No Excuse" Guide

Chatter can be dock talk, personal abusive talk, hater talk, fan talk and everything in between. The list goes on. I truly believe tournament fishing is all a mental game. I feel that the most successful anglers know how to tune it all out and fish in the zone. It is crucial to know how to tune out all the chatter and shut up and fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-missed-chances-at-the-finale

Missed Chances at the Finale

The final Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River was a tough event for me. After one of the strongest practices I’ve ever had there, or anywhere, really, I drove home scratching my head. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-22-thrift-flirting-with-second-aoy-title

Thrift Flirting with Second AOY Title

Bryan Thrift can’t say for certain what baits will sit on his front deck during the final Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015 on the Potomac River, which is set to kick off this Thursday, but he’s quick to say what will not join him – the memory of his 2010 Angler of the Year title. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-16-my-lost-fish-troubles-continue

My Lost-Fish Troubles Continue

Lake Chickamauga is loaded with big bass, and for the first time in three previous visits I felt really good after the practice period was over. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out for me, and I ended the event after day two by missing the top-20 cut by a mere 4 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-14-chickamauga-aoy-update

Chickamauga AOY Update

On the heels of his third consecutive Walmart FLW Tour top-10 finish, Shelby, N.C., pro and 2010 Angler of the Year Bryan Thrift moves into the lead in the 2015 AOY race going into the final event on the Potomac River in LaPlata, Md., June 25-28. Thrift won the Tour’s fourth stop on Lake Eufaula back in May and followed it up with a ninth-place finish this week on Lake Chickamauga. His AOY point total through five of six events is 945. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-04-blaukat-on-climate-change

Blaukat on Climate Change

As many of you know, for years I’ve been an outspoken voice on environmental issues. As a result, I’ve been celebrated by some and ostracized by others. But what some think of me being the messenger is irrelevant. It’s not about the messenger – as much as detractors try to make it out to be – it’s about getting the message out. I want to start by saying that the debate of whether or not climate change is man-made is over. It’s real, and it’s right here in our faces. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-28-running-a-college-club

Running a College Club

The sport of college bass fishing is growing at an incredible pace. During my freshman year (2011-2012), tournament fields were limited to 50 anglers, and boats were supplied by Rayovac FLW Series volunteer competitors. During the end of my senior year this season, field sizes grew larger at every tournament, and we saw more colleges providing boats for student anglers – signs of growth for sure. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-28-blog-i-m-hooked-

Blog: I’m Hooked

When I was 10 years old I could only dream about being a professional fisherman. I would spend all my time outdoors playing sports, hunting and fishing. Then, in high school, I competed in my first bass tournament and I was hooked. From that moment, my goal was to become a professional angler some day. Now, almost three decades later, after much hard work and dedication I’m competing in the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour. And I’m more excited than ever. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-26-blog-the-first-time

Blog: The First Time

This begins a series of blogs by Walmart FLW Tour co-angler Jaime Luengo of Mexico City. He joined the circuit in 2005 and has three top-10 finishes to his credit. Luengo is the author of La Magia de la Lobina Tecnicas Avanzadas, a book on bass fishing techniques, and is host and producer of Nuestra Pesca, a television series available on all cable stations in Mexico. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-19-blog-what-might-have-been-at-eufaula

Blog: What Might Have Been at Eufaula

Lake Eufaula is in the books, but ever since the tournament I haven’t slept very well. If you know me, you know I just “love” losing fish, but I think this latest event was the worst of my career. I finished 12th, which isn’t so bad, but the “what could have beens” got me again. On the last day of practice, I caught nearly 30 pounds, including one around 10 pounds and a 7 1/2-pounder, making it a day I’ll never forget. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-wins-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-eufaula-presented-by-quaker-state

Thrift Wins Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Eufaula Presented By Quaker State

EUFAULA, Ala. (May 17, 2015) – The Walmart FLW Tour event at Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State promised a dramatic finish Sunday as all of the final top-10 anglers competing on the final day were within striking distance of first place and the title of Lake Eufaula Champion. When the scales settled, it was veteran pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, who had caught enough weight... READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-by-3

Thrift by 3

The “numbers game.” It’s a term that Bryan Thrift used to describe his fishing on Lake Eufaula back in 2013 when he finished runner-up to Randy Haynes in a Walmart FLW Tour event. The method to his numbers madness was to hit as many solitary objects – stumps, brush piles, rocks, logs – on the bottom of Lake Eufaula as humanly possible in an eight-hour tournament day. When Thrift saw that Lake Eufaula was back on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour schedule for May of this year, he grinned that patented Bryan Thrift grin because he already knew how to crunch the numbers at Eufaula. And Thrift is still grinning. After sacking up a final-day catch of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to top off 69-14 for the week, Thrift made the numbers work for his fourth FLW Tour win. He added another $125,000 to his bank account. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-12-blog-frogging-of-a-different-kind

Blog: Frogging of a Different Kind

As a bass fisherman, I have a special feeling for that time of year when I can start fishing a frog again. I’m not sure if the rush of adrenaline I feel is from that first explosion when a bass crashes the frog, or the anticipation of it. Whatever it is, I love it! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-06-blog-make-a-plan-and-work-the-plan-

Blog: Make a Plan and Work the Plan

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: I’m bombarded with an array of emotions and a new to-do list every day. I’m not good enough. I don’t have the money. Make a Facebook post. Call mom. I don’t have enough time. I’m too tired. I’ll be treated poorly. Rig rods. Do sponsor work. People won’t like me. My son will miss me. I’ll miss my family. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-24-blog-east-vs-west

Blog: East vs. West

I’m not going to say the West is better than the East, or vice-versa. However, I am going to say that where fishing is concerned, there are some distinct differences between the two. The list is long and I’m sure that you can think of many additional differences, but here are a few things I have found that separates the two locales. For the purposes of this blog, let’s make the dividing line the Mississippi River although I think we should include Texas with the East. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-21-blog-the-bucket-list

Blog: The Bucket List

I lived my first 25 years in the Midwest, and I used to get horrible cabin fever this time of year. Sitting in front of a television and watching Jimmy, Hank, Roland and Bill catch monster bass on a spinnerbait on every single cast only made it worse. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-blog-back-in-the-groove

Blog: Back in the Groove

It feels good to be in full swing of the tournament season again. We just finished the second stop of the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake, and it was an excellent event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-5-pivotal-moments-in-my-career

5 Pivotal Moments in my Career

The FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake marked the beginning of my senior campaign. While it was great to get on some open water for the first time in months (though we didn’t finish very well), it also had me looking back at five events that, more than any others, led me to this point. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-a-year-of-new-firsts

A Year of New Firsts

There are a lot of firsts in my life now: my first full year on the Walmart FLW Tour, the first time not to fish any full B.A.S.S. circuit in many years, the first time to fish with co-anglers in a long while, the first time to compete at Beaver Lake, and so on. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-up-then-down-again

Up, Then Down Again

The highs and lows in this sport are amazing. They are amazing and sometimes hard to deal with. Sometimes you just have to test yourself on how thick your skin really is. For example, consider my highs and lows in the last few months. READ MORE »