UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Smoke on the water

Bryan Thrift rose to fifth place after catching an 18-pound, 2-ounce stringer Saturday.

As I sit down to write this blog we're in the middle of a rare North Carolina snowstorm. It's kind of fun to watch it from the warmth of home, but it also makes me want to head right back to Florida where it's warm.

I finished 59th at the Walmart FLW Tour season opener on Lake Okeechobee. I'm happy to get one of the last big $10,000 checks, but I'm not happy with how I fished - not happy at all. I thought I had learned a lot about the lake over the years, but I could never find that one area I could call "home." At Okeechobee, running all over the lake is usually a recipe for disaster. You need that one area where you can grind it out for eight hours and then get one or two really big bites.

The first day of the tournament I started down south kind of between Clewiston and Ritta Island. I went in with full intentions of throwing the new Damiki Air Frog, but they wouldn't commit. Instead of really eating it, they would just roll behind it. I think I caught only two of my first seven bites. So I eventually switched up to a 3/8-ounce swim jig with a 6-inch Damiki Anchovy Shad as a trailer. I would trim about an inch off the head of the Anchovy Shad and then it fit just right.

The second day I started back in that same area and never got a bite in the morning. At that point I'm thinking, "Here we go, this could be disastrous." So I left, scrambled around and got a small limit that weighed about 10 pounds. I went back to where I started and culled everything out and caught the 16 pounds I weighed. The place I was fishing was fairly open water for Okeechobee. There were some scattered reeds, but most of the fish were actually relating to lily pads.

Bryan Thrift.In hindsight, that fog delay we had on day one might have been what screwed me up initially on day two. We didn't start fishing the first day until 9 a.m. It's likely that those fish in my area just didn't start biting until later in the day.

That's not where I really went wrong though. The first day of practice I saw two 6-pounders and a 5-pounder on bed. When I saw those big females, I was close to 100 percent sure a big wave was coming up to spawn. So I spent the next two days looking and it never did materialize. I just misread the situation and it cost me. Come tournament time it was mainly empty beds and those that had fish on them were all 13-inch bucks. I pretty much knew most of the field would be fishing up around the Monkey Box and the North Shore. I just like to figure out what everyone else is going to do and then do the exact opposite. This time that did not work.

Overall, I'd say the tournament was kind of bittersweet. It's my first paycheck since the Cup, but I felt like I had a better grasp on Okeechobee than what I finished. After taking 59th, you can pretty much throw Angler of the Year out. I guess it's not completely out of the question, but I'd have to make the cut five times in a row or something.

The good news is that it shouldn't hurt me too bad for the Forrest Wood Cup. That's my biggest concern; I want to make the championship. I love those summertime tournaments where it's tougher fishing. It's like a mind game to me. It's only a few hours from the house and with $500,000 on the line for first place I need to be there.

Hartwell will be coming up pretty quick. It's close to the house too, but I really haven't fished there that much. The water is up like when Christie won, but it should be colder like when Ehrler won. If it does warm up, they could come to the bank pretty quick. It should still be prespawn and that's probably my favorite time of year to fish. I guess the biggest thing I like about it is that the fish are constantly moving. Things change that fast - hour to hour instead of day to day.

I'll probably start by trying to catch them on a jerkabit and if that doesn't work I'll try and find a reaction bite. I don't really like to fish 60 feet deep like Ehrler, but I'm not ruling anything out at this point. Hartwell can be tricky.

Lastly, I can finally talk about the new Chevy commercial my family and I filmed back in November. When I was told they were coming out to the house to shoot, I figured it would be a group of three or four people. When they showed up there was like 20 people running all over with cameras everywhere. It was pretty awesome. My son Wylie could hardly contain himself; he was showing everybody his toys. It was hard to get him to lie in his bed and pretend to go to sleep. He was just too excited. Other than that, it went great. My wife claims the video was our two minutes of fame.

The whole idea behind the commercial was to feature Chevy's MyLink system, which lets me stay connected to my family while I'm at a tournament. You can keep your eyes on the road and still safely use your toys and devices. It's accessibility without being a danger to yourself or the people around you.

If you haven't seen the video, check it out.

Tags: bryan-thrift  blog 

/tips/2016-07-23-1000-islands-day-3-midday-update

1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-22-1000-islands-midday-update-day-2

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-19-flw-podcast-126-icast

FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-14-2017-walmart-flw-tour-schedule

2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-12-si-se-puede-yes-we-can

Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-5-rookie-lessons-learned

5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-flw-podcast-125-scott-martin

FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-review-lew-s-custom-speed-stick-lite

Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-reunited-and-it-feels-so-good

Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-2016-icast-preview

2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-07-flw-canada-kicks-off-at-tri-lakes

FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-tour-pro-cooksey-recovering-after-accident

FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-podcast-124-jeremy-lawyer

FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-29-stetson-blaylock-s-recipe-for-a-wacky-rig

Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-28-morgan-claims-third-flw-tour-angler-of-the-year-title

Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-24-three-things-by-dd-kentucky-lake

Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-23-how-to-catch-smallmouths-with-hair-jigs

How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-22-two-exciting-events-to-look-forward-to

Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-21-tagging-along-with-sprague-in-kentucky

Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-19-waunakee-hs-wins-wi-title

Waunakee HS Wins WI Title

The Waunakee High School duo of Colin Steck and Nathan Lorenz brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Wisconsin State Championship on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. The win earned the team trophies, the title of state champions and advanced the team to the High School Fishing Central Conference championship on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 23-24. READ MORE »