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: blog  bryan-thrift 

/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 »

/tips/2015-02-25-3-thoughts-on-toho

3 Thoughts on Toho

I was without power for three days after the first storm, but it snowed again this weekend and there is supposed to be more weather on the way. Suffice to say, I can’t get to Florida and Lake Toho fast enough. READ MORE »