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Life and lives on the Tournament Trail

When I became a touring professional angler, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my life would be like — lots of driving, lots of fishing, fast food, laundromats and more driving. One of the things I didn't anticipate was the relationships that would develop out of circumstances I could never imagine.In January 2003, I was at a campsite getting ready for a Bassmaster Tour event on the Harris Chain in Florida. Fishing was tough, but what I remember most about that tournament was meeting Lee and Carol Flint. They're New Yorkers who winter in Central Florida, and we struck up a conversation one day at that campground that started a friendship that still exists.The Flints are big fans of the sport, but more importantly they're great people. They never miss an event in Florida or New York, so I'm looking forward to seeing them when we're fishing at Cayuga next week. Sometimes they even show up at weigh-ins with a sign that reads, "Go E2" or something like that. They're also big supporters of Matt Reed, Randy Howell and some of the other pros they've met at the campgrounds through the years.

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ON-LOCATION VIDEO: DAY ONE CONDITIONS AT CAYUGA

The BASS ZONE is on-location at the Elite Series tournament on New York's Cayuga Lake

Keeping the Biffle Family in Our Thoughts

Sharon Biffle, the wife of MLF and B.A.S.S. angler Tommy Biffle, recently had quadruple bypass open heart surgery. Her situation remains touch-and-go at this time. Residents of Wagoner, Okla., Sharon and Tommy have been married 34 years and have one daughter, Jennifer.Tommy is known as a strong competitor on the water. We can only hope this same will be helpful to him and his family during this tough time.The professional bass fishing family asks that you keep the Biffle family in your thoughts and prayers to provide Sharon the strength needed for a full recovery.- See more at: http://majorleaguefishing.com/news_details.aspx?id=8130#sthash.RpDCuRoJ....

Back to the bank

Every year about this time, I start to shift my focus from deep water to shallow water. I know that might not make a lot of sense — it's the hottest time of year and you'd think most bass would escape that by staying offshore and deep — but bass don't have to explain themselves.In some ways I can understand why they'd move shallow. For one, there's more fishing pressure in deep water at this time of year, so the big groups of fish that held together in June and July might break up and go shallow to escape that pressure. For another, I think water quality might be better in the shallows; incoming current and wind can keep oxygen levels comfortable even when temperatures are high.You might ask, "How shallow is 'shallow' for bass in the heat of summer?" It's a great question, and the answer depends on the lake you're fishing. I've learned that if the water is even a little bit stained (maybe three to four feet of visibility), the bass will often hold on cover that's just knee deep. In fact, I've often been amazed at how shallow I can find bass — good bass ... big bass! — in August. The dirtier the water, the shallower you'll likely find them.Not only is it often more fun to catch bass when they're shallow and you can sometimes see the bite, it's also a lot easier because you're generally casting to cover you can see. Boat docks, laydowns and overhanging trees are some of my favorite cover types now. And they can be productive almost anywhere on the lake — from the main body to the backs of creeks where you caught them spawning a few months ago.

Finding the right balance

Fishing and life are all about balance ... at least that's the way it seems to me. I know that when I've got my personal and work lives in balance, both are better, I'm happier and my family is better off. On the fishing side of things, when my gear is organized and balanced, I do better on the water.

While I can't offer any advice on the delicate balance between work and personal life, I'd like to take this opportunity to share some things I've learned about balancing my fishing tackle — in particular, my rods and reels.

Years ago I read how Rick Clunn simplified his approach to bass fishing by using the same rod and reel combos for a wide variety of baits and methods. When he went from casting a spinnerbait to throwing a crankbait, he wanted that transition to be seamless and maintaining consistency between rods and reels gave him that. He may have been setting down the spinnerbait and picking up the crankbait, but the rod and reel were the same. He didn't waste several casts getting the feel of a new combo.

I tried doing the same thing — more or less — and found that I couldn't use the same gear for as many methods as Clunn did. It just didn't work for me, but the effort streamlined my approach quite a bit and let me focus more on my fishing and less on those little adjustments that can be distracting.

Using rods and reels from the same manufacturers can help. Whatever brands you like, if you stick with them for all (or nearly all) of your techniques, you'll find that your casting gets better, your focus improves and you catch more bass.

I use Bass Pro Shops rods and reels and have grown extremely comfortable with them over the years. I tend to use the same models for a long time — probably a lot longer than most pros — because I develop a comfort level with them that I would lose by changing more often. It takes me a while to warm up to new equipment, and that adjustment period can be costly when you fish for a living.

Right now, all of my rods are Bass Pro Shops CarbonLite models. They're light, strong, sensitive and I love the P-Tec polyfoam grips.

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The Elites at ICAST

Edwin Evers chats with Kelly Jordon

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ICast

Orlando FL – Over the course of the last two days, The BASS ZONE has been on-location at ICAST in Orlando, Florida, where the bass fishing worlds gets a first look at the lineup of new products for the 2015 season.

After traversing isle after isle of the latest and greatest the industry has to offer, The BZ has compiled a list of some things that stood out at this year’s show.

Megabass MAGDRAFT - The cool thing about this 6 inch swimbait is the MAGhold that holds the treble hook in place so that you don’t have to tear the plastic in order to keep the hook flush with the belly of the bait.

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GEICO Select Event Filming in Oklahoma

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Major League Fishing is currently filming its inaugural GEICO Select event on several bodies of water in the Muskogee, Oklahoma, region. The event – Bass Pro Shops Summit Select presented by BACAS – began on Monday, May 19. Production will conclude on Saturday, May 24.The GEICO Select events are the first-ever expansion for Major League Fishing. The Summit Select features 24 anglers that are not regular competitors in the Major League Fishing Cup series. Anglers participating in the Muskogee event are: Scott Ashmore, Brent Chapman, Jason Christie, Keith Combs, Ott DeFoe, Kurt Dove, Paul Elias, Todd Faircloth, Randy Howell, Andy Montgomery, Cliff Pace, Brandon Palaniuk, Keith Poche, Marty Robinson, Mark Rose, Casey Scanlon, Morizo Shimizu, Kevin Short, Fletcher Shryock, Michael Simonton, Scott Suggs, Gerald Swindle, James Watson and Jacob Wheeler.The early returns have been nothing short of phenomenal, according to Major League Fishing Commissioner Don Rucks.“We have fished four complete days, and the competition has been as close and dramatic as any competition I’ve ever seen in the sport of bass fishing,” Rucks said. “These television programs are going to be nothing short of outstanding.”- See more at: http://www.majorleaguefishing.com/news_details.aspx?id=7676#sthash.G64JB...

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Memorial Day and family traditions

With Memorial Day just a few days away, I thought it would be a good time to talk about family traditions and what the holiday means to me.I come from kind of a small family, so attending reunions is not something I grew up doing. But when I married Tuesday, I started going to the reunions put on by her family — the Butchers. Turns out I had no idea what a great time I was missing.The Butchers definitely know how to hold a reunion. For more than 60 years, every Memorial Day weekend they rent out an entire campground at Grand Lake for somewhere between 160 and 225 family members to come out, camp out and have a great time fishing, riding bikes, playing cards and generally spending time with family.The folks who come out range in age from a few weeks to more than 90 years old. Some come from very close by; others are from several states away. My wife has been coming to this same campground for the annual reunion for as long as she can remember. I hope our kids will still be coming when we're gone.This annual reunion is one of the best traditions I can think of and the one I probably value the most. The Butchers are a wonderful family, and I'm proud to be part of it. My father-in-law was one of 18 blood siblings and three foster siblings. You can imagine how many cousins Tuesday has. I'm still trying to learn all the names.One of the things I love most about the reunion is that I have three days with no deadlines, no obligations and no big demands — unless you count picking up ice cream at the nearby Dairy Queen. I'll bet you don't get many days like that either, but we all need them. It's unbelievably relaxing.By far the best thing about our Memorial Day weekend is that we create a real sense of community for those three days. Yes, we're all family, but for those three days we're also a community, doing things together — from group meals to playing cards to a family church service on Sunday morning right in the middle of the campground. If that kind of experience won't recharge your batteries, I don't know what will.

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Bass meteorology 101

I am not a weatherman ... and I don't play one on TV, but when I'm practicing for a tournament and trying to put together a successful game plan for the event, I often find myself looking at the weather forecast and trying to figure out just what the bass will be doing once the tournament starts.

This week's Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Dardanelle is a classic example. During our practice period (Monday through Wednesday), the forecast calls for rain and high temperatures between 80 and 90. Then, on Thursday when the tournament starts, it shifts to mostly sunny with highs that are 15 to 20 degrees cooler.

That's a big difference in weather, and the shift is scheduled to happen just as we transition from practice to competition.

Weather changes like that — even those with such perfectly bad timing — don't make practice worthless, but they do change the way tournament anglers have to approach practice and the first part of competition.

My preparation for this tournament began months ago when I started looking at past events on Dardanelle, most particularly the 2005 Bassmaster Elite 50 tournament won by Davy Hite; it was held at about the same time of year. Those previous events can give me an idea of what weights to expect, and I can compare the weather, water levels and flow rates to get a picture of how similar the conditions might be. I also look back at any notes I made of the events I fished, where I fished and how I did.

Since we're going to have warm, cloudy and rainy weather during practice this week, I'm expecting the fishing to be great. But with a cold front coming through in the middle of the week, things could be much tougher once the tournament starts. Weekend anglers face this sort of thing all the time and rarely have the opportunity to get updated information after the weather change.

The key, of course, is to figure out where the fish will be after the front passes through and what they'll bite. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and wake baits might be great in practice, but I doubt they'll be much of a factor once competition begins.

When you're really catching them in practice, it's tough not to go right back out there and try the same things in the same places once the tournament begins even though conditions have changed.

In fact, if you've been tearing them up in one area on power fishing baits, I think it's a mistake not to get right back out there and see if you can still catch them that way.

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