By BassFan Staff
The day-2 leaderboard at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic was completely dominated by Bassmaster Elite Series anglers – you had to wade through eight of them before you got to the first FLW guy.
But today, that FLW guy leap-frogged them all. Rocketed past them might be a more appropriate way of putting it.
Bryan Thrift somehow caught a 25-pound bag in the face of 25-mph winds at Lake Conroe to win the all-star event by more than 9 pounds with a 3-day total of 53-04. He'd started the day in 9th place and came back to the launch with a stringer that was 4 3/4 pounds heavier than any other caught in the derby.
"I can't describe it," he said. "Today was one of those days that are the reason you fish. It was a perfect day."
Two former TTBC champions finished immediately behind him, although a long way back. Brian Snowden, who won in 2010, bagged 11 pounds today for a 44-00 total that gave him the runner-up slot. Keith Combs, last year's victor, caught 16-12 – a very stout stringer under the conditions until it's compared to Thrift's haul – to end up 3rd with 43-08.
Russ Lane boxed 13 pounds to finish 4th with 42-08 and Edwin Evers completed the Top 5 with 8-08 today for a 41-00 aggregate.
Here are the totals for the other anglers who competed today (there were 11 total due to a 10th-place tie after day 2):
6. (tie) Todd Faircloth: 40-12
6. (tie) Bobby Lane: 40-12
6. (tie) Luke Clausen: 40-12
9. Brandon Card: 40-08
10. Fred Roumbanis: 37-04
11. Terry Scroggins: 36-12
Thrift's Worries Unfounded
> Day 3: 5, 25-00 (15, 53-04)
After arriving at his first stop, Thrift became concerned that it might be tough to catch much of anything on day 3.
"I thought it was going to be bad," he said. "I'd been catching a couple of fish early on a buzzbait on one little stretch of bank, and that place already had 2- or 3-foot rollers, so I knew the buzzbait would be no good."
He opted to make his first pass with a Chatterbait and popped a 2 3/4-pounder. Then he came back with a crankbait and caught a 4 1/4.
That was a nice start, but it paled in comparison to what was still to come.
His fourth fish, which bit a Rapala DT15 at about 10:30, was a 7 1/2-pounder. Then, with just 10 minutes left in the day, he got a 6 1/2 on a shaky-head that replaced a 2-pounder in his livewell.
"When that happened right before weigh-in, I figured I was destined to win," he said.
He said he holds this victory in higher regard than either of his FLW Tour triumphs.
"I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a little bigger. You've got 50 guys who performed the best over the course of the year on three different tours. Everybody's on a roll and nobody's slumping. They're all fishing good."
He ended up catching seven or eight keepers and the five that counted were each enticed by a different bait. Full details of his winning pattern will be published soon.
Day-2 leader Brian Snowden's final day bag was one fish shy of a limit.
2nd: Snowden not Bummed
> Day 3: 4, 11-00 (14, 44-00)
Snowden carried a half-pound lead into the final day, but wasn't too depressed about his runner-up showing in the wake of Thrift's monstrous haul.
"You can take 2nd place a lot better when you're behind by 9 pounds," he said. "If I would've lost by 2 or 3 ounces, that would've really been tough. I'm happy with the tournament and it's nice to make a little money. It was a good finish to a poor year and it's brought my spirits up."
He caught a 6-plus early, but boated only three keepers thereafter and had to weigh a bag that was a fish short of the limit. He broke off one solid fish.
For the event, he caught nine fish off docks and five from offshore structure (including a small keeper today). His best specimens – including the 6 today and two 5s on day 2 – were fooled by a 3/8-ounce Pig Sticker Snowden Jig.
3rd: Combs Satisfied
> Day 3: 5, 16-12 (15, 43-08)
Considering that he advanced to the final day via a tie for the last qualifying position, Combs was happy with his defense of his 2011 crown.
"I barely slipped into the Top 10, and then today went really well," he said. "My biggest problem was that I wasn't able to catch anything before noon, and we had to be in earlier today (3 o'clock instead of 4:30 or 4:50), so I was really worried.
"I ended up catching them from the same spots where they wouldn't bite in the morning. That's what killed me, because the guys who beat me were catching them good in the mornings."
He boated seven keepers today, with the best a 5 3/4-pounder.
"I ended up finishing a half-pound behind Snowden, and I lost a fish on my last cast that might've gotten me that, or maybe not. I weighed in a 1-08, and I think that was about what that last fish was, too."
He caught his fish this week on several different crankbaits.
"I fell a little bit short, but it was very hard to compete with Bryan's big sack today."
4th: Lane in Awe
> Day 3: 5, 13-00 (15, 42-08)
Russ Lane was somewhat shocked that a bag the size of Thrift's was caught today.
"That's pretty unbelievable," he said. "After about 12:00 I started thinking I might be one bite away from winning this thing. (The conditions) had really gotten awful and the wind was blowing so hard that half the lake was out of play.
"All the stuff where I caught the 20 pounds (on day 2) was unfishable. It was just an awesome job by Bryan."
He'd caught a 6 1/2-pounder on his final cast of day 2 and pulled a 6 from that same locale this morning despite 4-foot waves. That was the only bite he managed there, however, and he ended up running to the back of a creek to fill out his limit.
"The wind was just a nightmare. I'd planned to use it to my advantage, but it was just way too harsh."
5th: Evers didn't Execute
> Day 3: 4, 8-08 (14, 41-00)
Evers' bag would've been considerably bigger if he hadn't lost four quality fish – two that came unbuttoned at the boat and two that broke off. He dropped three places in the standings.
"It's pretty frustrating, really," he said. "I made some adjustments and I really wanted to win this today, but I feel like I let it slip through my fingers."
He mostly fished docks on day 1, then went offshore the following day. He did a bit of both on the final day.
His primary baits were a 5-inch Yum Dinger attached to a Yum Pumpkin Ed jighead and a Booyah finesse jig.
> For complete final results, click here.