What goes through a fisherman’s mind on the final day of a tournament, when he’s down by a seemingly insurmountable amount?
“I was definitely thinking that I was fishing for second. There was no way I could overcome a 10 1/2 pound deficit,” is what Minnesotan and KrugerFarms.com Fishing Team member, Andy Young was thinking during his recent trip to Texas for the BASSMASTER Central Open on Lake Amistad. But he did overcome that deficit to win and bring the BASSMASTER trophy back to Minnesota.
Young’s road to this victory was a long one. A friend introduced him to bass fishing on Lake Minnetonka. “After I got into my first school of bass in the milfoil on Minnetonka, I totally forgot all about those walleyes.” He started fishing tournaments in 1996 and arrived in Texas 9 days prior to the tournament.
“A couple of days were cut short because of the freezing rain and cold weather…I probably got a good 7 solid days of practice in and it definitely helped.” He normally gets 4-5 days, but an understanding manager back at work in Minnesota let him take off a little bit earlier. “My boss said,’Go down and figure ’em out!’ So I did.”
With that much time to prefish, what was his strategy?
“I stuck in one section of the lake that was about 12 miles long and just worked that area for the whole time, trying to figure out the smaller section of the lake.”
Young totals 12lbs on the first day. Not a bad showing until we found out that Randy Allen would boat one fish that weighed nearly the same amount. “Yeah,” Young laughs, “There’s big ones in that lake. In practice I caught my personal best bass. It was 26 inches long, so I’m guessing it was somewhere between 9 and 10 pounds.”
Why do bass get bigger there than they do in Minnesota?
“They’ve got a longer growing season and they’re a Florida strain bass, so they naturally grow bigger.”
Randy Allen boats a second 10lb bass and takes a commanding lead in the tournament. Young catches around the same as day 1.
Allen is in the lead by 10 1/2 pounds and Young just wants to keep his name in the number 2 spot on the leader board. Then a 7 1/2 bass comes in the boat and he’s back in the game. With only 1 fish in the leaders boat, the door for a comeback was wide open.
“I had no idea that he was struggling, so when I caught that big 7 1/2 pounder, I thought that would be good enough for second. I had a pretty good bag, I figured I had 13 (pounds) or something, I ended up culling out two fish towards the end of the day. Minor culls, just maybe a half ounce each. Those are the fish that made the difference! I won by one ounce! Those two little culls put me over the top.”
Allen, the leader, only caught one fish on the last day, allowing Young to take the lead and the eventual second place angler, Stephen Browning to overtake him for a thrilling one-ounce difference during the weigh-in.
“I had some friends from Minnesota following me around and they didn’t tell me,” that the leader had only caught one fish. “I’m glad they didn’t because I was out there just trying to have a good time, trying to go for second.”
The tension was mounting before the weigh-in, no one really knows how the other anglers did before the scale reveals it. Did Young have an idea that he might have won?
“I was standing right behind Stephen Browning, an elite series pro, and he said he had 14 or 15 pounds and I thought that was pretty good, because he was only a couple pounds behind me. I thought, well shoot, he might beat me. Then Randy Allen, who was in the lead, was standing right behind me and I said ‘How did you do?’ He says ‘I only got one’, and I said, ‘Can I see it?’ He says ‘No!'” Young laughs, “So I didn’t know how big it was, but I knew he only had one fish!”
One of the techniques Young used in Texas was not legal in Minnesota, an umbrella rig.
“I used a couple techniques. I’d start in the mornings on deep spots, rock piles on top of ledges. The ledges would come out of super deep water, 100-150 feet, then top out at 22. There would be flats on top of these ledges that would have keeper fish on them.” Using a drop shot with a Bioflex Kolt Fish Tail, in these areas would boat over half of his fish, but not the big ones.
“All the bigger ones came on a Hog Farmer A-rig. A 7 wire, multi-lure bait. I had Big Bite Cane covers on it with Outkast Tackle Money Jigs for heads. I’d cast that out as far as I could, let it sink to the bottom and starting reeling it back real slow and a lot of times they’d hit it as soon as I’d starting bringing it back.”
These “umbrella rigs” are legal in Texas, but not in Minnesota. Do you see it being legal here?
“I doubt it, but you never know.”
How did the good ol’ Texas boys feel about a yankee from Minnesota winning a tournament in their backyard?
“To tell you the truth, I had nothing but congratulations. I had no negative vibes from that at all. Everyone was super nice and happy for me.”
“I have a BASSMASTER Central Open on the Red River in Louisiana at the end of April. But I’ll be doing a couple of shows between now and then. Since I qualified for the Classic on Lake Hardwell in South Carolina, I’m thinking I will fly out there and do some fishing with some of the Kruger Farms guys in a couple of weeks to get accustomed to the lake.”