Smoke on the water

Thrift pitched a jig to a dock and connected.

Here goes round No. 2 of my blog. Things are relatively quiet around the house as we enjoy the holidays. We had a good Halloween. I didn't dress up, but my son Wylie was a sushi roll and my wife Allison was what she called a "hot mess" where she wore a bunch of strangely mismatched clothes. Her costume was more of a last-minute deal, but she put a lot of effort into Wylie's sushi roll. She planned to save a bunch of money and make it herself, but after several trips to Walmart I don't think that happened. The costume turned out great though; Allison is really good at stuff like that. Wylie Thrift sporting his Halloween costume. As a family, we're pretty traditional with our fall festivities. There's a pumpkin farm a couple miles up the road. We took Wylie there, went on a hay ride and picked out a few keeper pumpkins. On Halloween, we drove Wylie to the grandparents' house. They enjoyed seeing Wylie in his costume and he got to trick or treat at a few of the houses. Then we went to a few of the houses in our own neighborhood. A friend of mine has a Halloween tradition where he has a campfire and cooks a stew in this big, cast-iron pot. We throw whatever we have sitting around in the kitchen in there, roast some marshmallows and have a big time. We also let Wylie hand out some candy to the other kids in the neighborhood. I think he had more fun seeing the other kids than getting the candy himself. Halloween was fun but now let's talk fishing. Everyone is talking about Randall Tharp right now and rightfully so, he's an awesome angler. As I said in the last blog, I'm glad he went out and caught a big bag on the final day of the Forrest Wood Cup or I would be having some major regrets. Anyway, a few people have pointed out to me how different Randall and I are. Randall is a guy that is pretty outspoken with his confidence and I'm pretty reserved. I get a lot of grief for this, but I rarely have a strong practice. That's the truth too. There are lots of tournaments where I really don't know what's going to happen. A prime example would be Eufaula this year. Before the tournament started, I knew what I was going to do and I knew I was only going to get a few bites doing it. It could have been an absolute bomb or a great tournament. It ended up being a great tournament, but on that third day I only got four bites, so you can see how fragile that pattern was. It's hard for me to go out there and say I'm going to catch this or that many pounds because there are just too many variables in bass fishing. If that attitude works for you as a fisherman, then by all means go for it. It obviously works for Randall. But that's not me. As soon as I would say something like that it would come back and bite me in the rear. Chevy team pro Bryan Thrift shows off his catch. Thrift heads into the finals on Grand Lake in sixth place. I've had plenty of tournaments where I thought I was going to do well, but didn't. One that sticks out in my mind was an Okeechobee EverStart several years ago. Two days before the tournament started I found this giant wad of fish on bed. I literally thought I was going to catch like 30 pounds the first day of the tournament. I was going crazy I was so excited. So I finally get there and all the big girls had vacated. The only fish left were 12-inchers. As you can imagine, it was frustrating and disappointing. My first couple years on tour I was kind of a feast or famine fisherman; I was either way up near the top or near the bottom. Then I kind of learned how to practice and this gets back to what I was talking about before - having "bad" practices. Now, just as soon as I figure something out, I stop and go find something else. I think in a four-day tournament you have to fish with the mentality that something out there is better. You've always got to be looking for stronger patterns and bigger fish. I'm told I have a little reputation as a sandbagger, OK maybe a big reputation. I think I do it because I'm naturally paranoid. Let's say I catch a 5-pounder early in the morning. But as I'm thinking about it throughout the day, I convince myself that it was probably 4 pounds or maybe even 3 1/2. By the time we bag our fish and walk up to weigh in, that fish only weighs 3 pounds in mind. It's like I play mental games with myself - doubting I really have what I need. Maybe it makes me fish harder, I don't know. I have started weighing some fish. But usually the only time I put them on the scale is in a culling situation. So that has taken some of the guesswork out of it. Still, I'd rather be guessing on the low side than on the high side. Bryan Thrift works an area over hard looking for another quality bite.My mind has already started thinking about next year. In addition to travel reservations and that kind of planning, I've started to think about the lakes. The first one of the year is on Okeechobee, a place that's special to me because that's where it all started. I won an EverStart there back in 2006. I had won a few EverStarts before that as a co-angler, but that first pro win was huge. At that point, I knew I wanted to be a full-time pro. I was right out of college and that kind of got me a little more financially secure. I can't get too sentimental though. I mainly view it as a good place to fish - you know there's the potential to catch a 10-pounder. For me, Okeechobee has been a feast or famine type lake where I've either done really good or really bad. The last couple years I've been fortunate enough to find that little 100-yard stretch where the bigger fish are at. It kind of suits me in that I like to run around and look at the whole lake to find where those bigger fish are hiding. Just the thought of a 10-pounder right now is enticing, but practice itself at Okeechobee is grueling. It sounds strange to say it because we're fishing, but practice at Okeechobee is awful. I compare it to a ledge-fishing tournament, except you can't idle. You've got to fish your way through all these spots. It's hours and hours of monotonous casting. I will say I'm excited about trying a new prototype swimbait from Damiki. They already have the 4-inch Anchovy Shad, which is great on rigs, but they're tinkering with a new 6-inch Anchovy Shad. I should have my hands on it by the time Okeechobee rolls around. The Air Frog will be fun to experiment with too. Damiki plastics are so soft you can wind the Air Frog slowly and the tails still kick like crazy. At Okeechobee, these fish a lot of times will wake behind your bait. So naturally you stop it to try and get the fish to commit. But just about every buzzing bait out there sinks when you stop it. The Air Frog stays up and floats like a pontoon - allowing them to get it better. So I'm pretty excited about that and hoping it can be a difference maker. Overall, the whole deal at Okeechobee is those big bites and sometimes they come when you least expect them. That's where a lot of people miss out. They're just going through the motions. You've got to have the mental focus to make yourself slow down and get the right bites. If you're not focused, you won't get that big fish out of the grass; they're too strong, too mean and there's just too much cover.

Tags: blog  bryan-thrift 

/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 »

/tips/2015-04-07-sweet-home-alabama

Sweet Home Alabama

Hey everyone, I'm just getting back and caught up from the second stop of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lewis Smith Lake. The lake was fishing like never before, and all the fish have grown up quickly on those blueback herring. Now that I've been back home a week and watched all the videos and read all the articles about the top 10 anglers I can say I have zero regrets! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-02-when-everything-comes-together

When Everything Comes Together

Dave Lefebre describes what baits and techniques he used to win the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake in this week's blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-01-running-a-spot-spawning-pattern

Running a Spot Spawning Pattern

In lakes where there are spotted bass, smallmouths and largemouths, the spawn can get complicated. Largemouths tend to bed in shallower, warmer water, but smallmouths and spotted bass might bed anywhere from the shallows to so far out it’s hard to see their beds. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-18-expect-change-and-adapt-to-it

Expect Change and Adapt to It

Ish Monroe explains how to adapt to changing conditions and recommends to always fish your strengths in this weeks blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-17-so-you-want-to-be-a-co-angler-

So You Want to be a Co-Angler?

First and foremost, I know I’m fishing the tournament as a co-angler and I make sure that I not only stay out of my pro’s way, but I do what I can to assist him throughout the day. This starts at the ramp with assisting him with the launch where possible. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-16-a-30-piece-puzzle-with-four-pieces-missing

A 30-Piece Puzzle with Four Pieces Missing

The whole time I was down in Florida during the FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho I felt like I was trying to put together a 30-piece puzzle with four pieces missing. The weather was right, the water temperature was right, the thousands of acres of vegetation looked right, but one thing was wrong: the fish! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-12-a-clean-slate

A Clean Slate

The 2015 season opener of the Walmart FLW Tour wasn’t at Okeechobee, as in recent years, but at Lake Toho in central Florida. I was excited about the change, and even more pumped to start a fresh new season after blowing my motor on day one of the first event last year. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-27-toho-bound

Toho Bound

You have to understand that having home field advantage in fishing is the absolute worst. There are so many demons; you have too much information, you start fishing the lake’s history – it goes on and on and it’s very hard for a professional angler to mentally break that barrier. READ MORE »