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Photo by Garrick Dixon - February 10, 2019 So many people have New Year’s resolutions, but I have a “New Tour” resolution, and it started long before the new year. 

I came to grips with the new format of the MLF Bass Pro Tour I’d be fishing, and it made me realize I’d need a change for sure. I needed to become healthier and more fit if I was going to succeed fishing a season-long tour with the physical demands the MLF Bass Pro Tour format brings.

So I changed up my lifestyle a bit. I realized that at my age I needed to be in better shape because I can’t recover as fast in my 50s as I could in my 20s. I started out weighing 230 pounds and not being in shape. I never thought I’d be able to run again without a lot of pain. My goal was to get down to 195 pounds. 

As I write this, I weigh 189 pounds.

I have to say, I’m proud of my achievement. I love to eat, and anyone who knows me knows that. I’ll go into my diet at another time. No “Mr. Universe” workouts for me. I just changed my eating habits and started to walk.

As my program progressed, I’ve built up to walking about 2 miles a day and running about ¾ of a mile too! I thought that would never happen, but lo and behold, I’m doing it! My aching back has gone away with the weight. The physical fitness certainly will help the mental fitness on the water this season. I can’t wait to see how the season unfolds. 

After the first event, I have to say I didn’t know I could feel this excited and engaged again. I felt as excited as a young man entering his first club tourney. I’m so thankful to be fishing this tour.

Ready for Lake Conroe

Now for Lake Conroe. I have some experience there, and I expect some big bass to be caught for sure. It’s a real trophy lake.

I’ll likely start fishing with a ⅜-ounce double willow leaf War Eagle spinnerbait. I’ll let the water clarity dictate the skirt color. The other lure is a ⅜-ounce Booyah jig in black and blue. 

I’ll fish both baits methodically and slowly. The fish aren’t fired up yet, but they could be with a warming trend. 

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January 29 - February 2
Pro Bass Tour at Lake Toho
Kissimmee, FL

 

February 12 - 17
Pro Bass Tour at Lake Conroe
Houston, TX

 

March 26 - 31
Pro Bass Tour at Lake Jordan
Raleigh, NC

 

April 9-14
Pro Bass Tour at Chickamauga Lake
Dayton, Tennessee

 

June - May 30-5
Pro Bass Tour at Cullman and Smith Lake
Cullman, Alabama

 

May 16-19
Event Coming
TBD, USA

 

June 21-24
Event Coming
TBD, USA

 

August 15-18
Event Coming
TBD, USA

 

August 22-25
Event Coming
TBD, USA

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Major League Fishing announced the groupings for the first two days of fishing in their first ever Bass Pro Tour event on Lake Toho next week. The competition starts Jan. 29, 2019 and group A will fish then. While Group B will fish on the Jan. 30 2019. Here is who will be competiting in each group. For more details visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.  

Bass Pro Anglers
Group A

Mark Daniels
Gary Klein
Casey Ashley
Brandon Coulter
Andy Montgomery
Dave Lefebre
Randy Howell
Randall Tharp
Mark Davis
Ish Monroe
Kelly Jordon
Jared Lintner
Gerald Spohrer
Fred Roumbanis
Edwin Evers
Brett Hite
Chris Lane
Michael Neal
Justin Lucas
David Walker
Zack Birge
Jason Lambert
Mike McClelland
Tommy Biffle
Russ Lane
Matt Lee
Stephen Browning
Andy Morgan
Ott DeFoe
Roy Hawk
Jacob Wheeler
Greg Vinson
Keith Poche
Takahiro Omori
James Watson
Jordan Lee
Tim Horton
James Elam
Cody Meyer
Shin Fukae

 Group B

Aaron Martens
Adrian Avena
Bradley Roy
Jeff Kriet
Jeff Sprague
Skeet Reese
Terry Scroggins
Dustin Connell
John Murray
Shaw Grigsby
Alton Jones
Brent Chapman
Britt Myers
Jacob Powroznik
Luke Clausen
Boyd Duckett
Gerald Swindle
Jason Christie
Josh Bertrand
Todd Faircloth
Greg Hackney
Scott Suggs
Jesse Wiggins
Wesley Strader
Cliff Pace
Paul Elias
Cliff Crochet
Johnathon VanDam
Brent Ehrler
Anthony Gagliardi,
Justin Atkins
Kevin VanDam
Bobby Lane
Alton Jones Jr.
Mike Iaconelli
Fletcher Shryock
Mark Rose
Brandon Palaniuk
Marty Robinson
Dean Rojas

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BASSMASTER - With the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods returning to the lake where I won in 2008, you can bet I’ve put a lot of thought into it. Especially how I’m going to approach Lake Hartwell next week. For me, it will start with my practice mindset.

We talk a lot about how the Classic requires an all-or-nothing attitude; how there are no points to earn and how you have to fish to win. Well, for me to do that, I have to practice in the techniques that I believe can win. 

If you look at how tournaments are won, there’s a handful of baits that is much smaller than the universe of baits that guys get checks on. So I’ll be spending more time practicing with that selection of lures.

A good example is a swimbait like a YUM Money Minnow or the YUM Pulse. There are many different ways you can rig them, and if you get on that bite, you can win. 

A jig is another good example, and so are your classic powerfishing techniques like a spinnerbait, a big crankbait, even a jerkbait. 

Now, contrast this with dropshots and a shaky heads, which typically do not win tournaments; at least not on Hartwell during the prespawn. Of course, these are both great options, but this is not going to be the top choice for March on this lake.

I’m sure I’ll be overlooking some schools of fish — smaller fish — because I’m not going to be downsizing. To do so at a lake like Hartwell this time of year would mean you’re not fishing for the bite to win.

Load Your Live Well

Did that most recent cold front throw you a curve ball? Did the bite you were on suddenly disappear? There is always a solution to every problem, here’s one that has saved my day on many occasions. After severe cold fronts big bass almost always seek out the darkest shadows they can find. 

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