By Todd Ceisner
Glenn Browne admits that as last year's FLW Tour schedule came to a close, his mind was elsewhere Ė still on fishing, just not the here and now. As the schedule wound down, he was out of contention for a Forrest Wood Cup berth as a result of his skipping the Lake Eufaula tournament to fish the Southern Open at Logan Martin Lake that fell during the same week. It was a calculated decision made in an effort to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series.
He came through at Logan Martin, sewed up an Elite Series invitation and the rest is history.
"Those last couple of events last year, my drive was kind of gone because I was out of it," he said. "I had checked out a little bit because my mind was already on building sponsors for this year and all that. I was just ready to get on with this year."
Now six events into his first Elite Series campaign, Browne finds himself on the cusp of grabbing his first Bassmaster Classic berth. He's 31st in points with two tournaments left. Here's the catch, though: Both of those tournaments will take place north of the Mason-Dixon Line, which isn't always a good recipe for a Florida-bred angler like Browne.
He's optimistic that should shallow-water patterns emerge at the Delaware River and/or Cayuga Lake, he'll be able to make something happen and hold his place in the points standings.
"I'm a bank-beater who loves to flip and pitch," he said. "From what little I've heard about the Delaware, I should be able to get in areas and flip and pitch at cover. At Cayuga, we'll have milfoil and after fishing Champlain a few times, I have a feel for how that deal works. As long as I fish my deal, I feel cautiously confident."
Picking Up Steam
Browne missed checks in the first three events this season by a collective 4-11 as he logged a trio of placements between 52nd and 60th. It was a frustrating start, but he bounced back with three straight Top-50 results, including a 13th at Toledo Bend, to climb into Classic contention.
"In each of the first three tournaments, I had opportunities," he said. "I missed the cut by 2 ounces at Table Rock. On day 1 at Seminole, I had 20 pounds of fish on, but only caught 9. My year could've gone from fair to mediocre to pretty damn good if a couple of things went my way. I've fought that all year. I feel like I've been around the right deals, but to have a really good tournament, you need to be around them and put them in the boat. It's one of those so-close-yet-so-far things. You can't put yourself in position to win if those things happen."
Asked to grade his freshman season fishing the Elite Series, he was blunt.
"I'd say fair to middling," he said. "At Seminole, in a span of 15 minutes I lost two 5s and a giant in the 8-pound class. At the St. Johns, I lost a 4 1/2-pounder on day 2 that would've helped me make the cut. At Table Rock, I lost a couple on the Biffle Bug on day 1. I hadn't fished it that much before, but once I got it figured out, I bounced back on day 2.
"It's so much tighter with how B.A.S.S. structures their points. You sure don't want to have a bad day. Mediocre days are okay, but those bad days are what you want to avoid."
Won't Fish Differently
With three solid finishes under his belt now, he's focused on what's to come at the Delaware and Cayuga, fisheries that will be new to most in the field. Browne, however, doesn't anticipate having to move too far out of his comfort zone to find success at either venue.
The two fisheries couldn't be any more different from each other. The Delaware River is an urban waterway that sees massive tide swings in the neighborhood of 9 or 10 feet. It's anticipated any bag over 10 pounds will be strong in the City of Brotherly Love.
Cayuga, on the other hand, is a 38-mile long natural lake in the heart of upstate New York's Finger Lakes region. It's deep Ė it's deepest point is 435 feet Ė and supports a diverse mix of warm- and coldwater species. The weedy north end is likely to attract the shallow-water specialists like Browne and docks will factor in as well, as they did 2 years ago when Pete Gluszek won a Northern Open there.
"Cayuga I feel okay I about," Browne said. "I went to college with a guy who lives up there so I'm going to be looking to him for a few pointers before off limits. From what I understand, it'll be a largemouth deal and from my experience fishing the south end of Champlain, I'm comfortable with that. It should be up my alley.
"The Delaware is a big unknown. From what I understand, it's not the best fishery and 12 or 13 pounds could be considered knocking their lights out. Those are the types of tournaments, from fishing FLW for years, that's what I'm used to, though. Those grinder tournaments were the norm and that's how I fish. I don't hunt for the big schools. I just get on the bank and grind.
"I don't think I'll treat them any different. I'll just fish how I fish. I'm not an offshore guy and I don't believe these last two will be offshore events. I'll be on the bank or in the grass. I won't be in survival mode. If the opportunity presents itself, I'd like to make a 12-cut. I had some opportunities earlier, but missed out."