Conroe, TX (September 30, 2012) – It was a comeback for ages at the final day of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic at Lake Conroe, where Bryan Thrift overcame a final day deficit of 4 pounds, 12 ounces to win the 2012 TTBC by a staggering 9 pounds, 4 ounces.
Even after finishing the first day of the TTBC in 3rd place with a 16 pound, 12 ounce limit that included a 6.22 pound kicker, the North Carolina pro wasn’t very optimistic about his chances of contending for the title.
During the three official practice days, he located a single productive stretch of bank above the 1097 bridge but struggled to find another viable pattern on the 21,000 acre fishery. “If I don’t get a big bite in there tomorrow, it’s probably going to be a bad day,” said Thrift on Friday afternoon. “I don’t think that I have any other area where I can catch the weight that I need to catch to stay in the hunt.”
The turning point in Thrift’s tournament came when heavy cloud cover and wind arrived in the Conroe, Texas area late on Friday afternoon and lingered throughout the remaining two days of competition. On Saturday, Thrift returned to his magical stretch and caught two keepers on a buzzbait in the first hour of competition.
He finished day two with a modest limit weighing 11 pounds, 8 ounces and snuck inside the final day cut in 9thplace with a total weight of 28 pounds, 4 ounces, nearly 5 pounds behind day two leader Brian Snowden.
On Sunday, Thrift returned to his primary stretch and quickly went to work in the blustery conditions that persisted throughout the day. “I picked up a Chatterbait and caught one and missed one. I went back down the bank with a crankbait and caught a 4 pounder. That got me off to a good start and calmed me down,” he explained.
With two keepers in the boat, the FLW Tour pro began running “random places” with shocking results. He landed a 7 pounder at 10:30 and added a 4 pound, 8 ounce largemouth shortly after noon. With minutes remaining in the day, he pulled up on a brush pile and boated a 6 pound, 8 ounce fish that boosted his final day weight to an even 25 pounds and capped off an incredible comeback.
Thrift’s three day total weight of 53 pounds, 4 ounces easily outdistanced Brian Snowden’s 2nd place weight by over 9 pounds.
Throughout the tournament, Thrift relied on a plethora of baits that included a white buzzbait, Chatterbait, five different crankbaits, and a shakey head. Half of his keepers during his week on Conroe came off of the 100 yard long stretch.
“This tournament is truly a championship event,” explained Thrift just moments after lifting the TTBC trophy in front of the crowd that braved the inclement weather to witness history. “You’re fishing against the top professional bass fisherman over the course of the year, so it’s a stacked field.
“I’d like to thank Gulf States Toyota for putting this tournament on,” he continued. “It’s one of the biggest tournaments of the year, and I’m glad that they let this old Chevy boy come catch a few fish.”
2nd Place: Brian Snowden
Brian Snowden’s bid to capture his second TTBC title in three years fell one place short. The Missouri pro, who entered the day with a 1 pound, 4 ounce lead over Edwin Evers, struggled throughout the day and caught four keepers weighing 11 pounds to finish the tournament with a total weight of 44 pounds.
Despite falling out of the lead, Snowden was pleased with his performance on Lake Conroe. “Mother Nature just kind of hurt me today,” he explained. “There was way too much wind for what I wanted to do. I broke off a 5 pounder today, but it was just a situation where I didn’t get a lot of keeper bites and couldn’t move around.”
Snowden spent a good portion of Sunday flipping many of the 536 boat slips in Walden Marina. “I went in there on the second day and caught some keepers that turned out to be big ones,” he explained. “That’s why I went back today.”
He used a Snowden’s 3/8 oz. Pig Sticker Jig with a Zoom Fat Albert Twin Tail Grub in green pumpkin color when fishing the marina docks, and he used a ½ oz. white buzzbait throughout the week when he targeted areas with shallow stumps. In the opening round, Snowden Carolina-rigged a black trick worm to catch most of his weight on offshore structure.
“This is a patient lake where you really have to work an area methodically while at the same time cover a lot of water,” he said. “It makes me feel good to come down here and perform well again,” Concluded Snowden.
3rd Place: Keith Combs
Like Snowden, Keith Combs was hoping to become a two-time TTBC champion on Sunday. The 2011 winner entered the day in a tie for 10th place, but was well aware of the fact that overcoming a large deficit was a real possibility on a lake that has surrendered a total of 16 Toyota ShareLunkers since 1986.
The Texas pro delivered, catching a 16 pound, 12 ounce limit on Sunday for a total weight of 43 pounds, 8 ounces. It wasn’t enough, and Combs’ bid to repeat as champion fell short.
“My downfall this week was the fact that I wasn’t able to catch fish the way that I wanted to until noon each day. I know that a lot of guys caught them early, but I didn’t have a fish in the boat at noon today,” he explained.
All week, Combs fished several different shad colored crankbaits, but the majority of his fish came on a Strike King Series 5XD in Sexy Shad color. He targeted brush piles positioned on the main lake points. “I never put the crankbait down,” he said.
“I was just lucky to be here today after squeaking inside the cut yesterday. I feel like I was able to make the best of it out there. I just needed to catch some early fish, and it’s kind of weird that they wouldn’t bite for me.”
ATX Wheels Big Bass
The ATX Wheels Big Bass award went to Florida’s Terry Scroggins, who boated a 7.70 pound largemouth on Saturday. The fish earned Scroggins a set of premium ATX Wheels.