Courtesy Toyota Texas Bass Classic
By: Steve Patnode
Day One: Jason Christie Big Bass Leader
QUITMAN, TX (May 23, 2015) – The name of the game for any bass fishing tournament is to catch the biggest bass. But, when you are at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Fork, your biggest bass had better be a grown one to have a chance to win the Toyota Tundra being given to the angler with the overall largest fish that will hoist the Toyota Tundra Big Bass of the 2015 TTBC on stage at weigh-in.
Park Hill, Okla. Pro Jason Christie, who finished the 2014 TTBC in fourth place overall with 97 pounds, began his 2015 event at Lake Fork by taking the day one lead with 37 pounds, 4 ounces. His overall bag was bolstered by his third fish of the morning. At nearly 10:00AM, Christie set the hook on his third fish, and a true battle ensued. The fish – once Christie managed to land it – weighed 10 pounds, 1 ounce.
The fish gave Christie a run for his money. “She came to the surface almost immediately and I could see that she was barely hooked,” Christie said. “I did everything I could do to keep the right amount of pressure on here and try to allow the hook to sink in a little bit better.”
After a battle that lasted for nearly a minute, Christie said that he had a heart stopping moment when he thought he was going to lose her. “I didn’t do a very good job landing that fish,” he said. “I actually missed her with the net on the first pass, and thought she was a goner then. But, I was able to get her turned around and get the net under her. She weighed 10-1 and I felt pretty comfortable, because my first two fish were over five pounds, and I felt like I was free to try and build on it.”
Christie managed to catch two other fish throughout the day that were over the Lake Fork 24-inch slot limit size minimum; one weighing 9 pounds even and another weighing 8 pounds even. But the first big one he caught; the 10-pound, 1-ounce Lake Fork lunker, puts him in the figurative driver’s seat to drive away with the 2015 Toyota Tundra pickup being awarded to the angler who catches the Toyota Tundra Big Bass of the 2015 Toyota Texas Bass Classic.
Gill North America would like to announce additions to their Gill Pro Fishing Team with five anglers joining current pro Dean Rojas wearing Gill in 2015. Jason Christie, Russ Lane Randall Tharp, Jared Lintner and Michael Neal all have a history with Gill and will be wearing Gill Technical Fishing Gear during the upcoming season. With their tournament seasons beginning in cold weather and ending in the summer conditions a wide range of technical clothing is needed to keep them performing at the highest levels. Gill has a 40 year history developing superior ultra-technical clothing for the marine and sailing industry. Gill and its' team of winning designers are now using that experience combined with feedback from professional anglers to develop dominant garments for fishing in any condition. Each angler had the following comments about their new Gill relationship:
Jason Christie. “I have been wearing Gill rainwear during my entire professional career. I always bought the best on the market. Gill will keep me fishing no matter what the weather.”
Randall Tharp. “I am honored and excited to be a part of Gill’s pro angler team. I have relied on Gill for years to keep me comfortable on the water so I can stay focused on catching fish.”
Russ Lane. "I was introduced to Gill rainwear several years ago at ICAST and was amazed to learn all of the things that go into making their garments. They really get it. They understand how important it is for a tournament fisherman to be comfortable, warm, dry and able to move freely during an 8 hour tournament day. Their attention to detail is what sets them apart from any other. I'm looking forward to learning even more about Gill's rainwear and layering garments so that I can help educate everyone on how to be more comfortable while on the water."
Jared Lintner. “I am very excited to be part of the GILL Pro staff. Having foul weather that provides dryness, warmth and comfort will prove to be a huge asset in 2015.”
Michael Neal. “I am extremely happy to be a part of the best rainwear on the market. Having Gill wear during this 2015 season will give me a complete ease of mind while out on the water. In the past, I have had to worry about getting wet and staying dry. While wearing Gill, I no longer have to worry about these and can concentrate solely on the task at hand. “For more information about Gill please visit www.gillfishing.com.
The Garmin marine pro team is expanding! Jason Christie, the number one ranked bass fisherman in the world, and Greg Hackney, the 2014 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, join a host of fishermen that will be representing Garmin and its new line of sonar and GPS devices designed specifically for freshwater anglers across the B.A.S.S. Elite Series and FLW Tour bass fishing circuits in 2015. In the last five years, professional angler Jason Christie has had five wins on a national level with a career total of 10 FLW wins and three B.A.S.S. Elite wins. A native of Oklahoma, Christie currently holds the number one BassFan World Ranking for the second consecutive year.“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join the Garmin team,” said Christie. “In our profession, seeing is believing and from what I’ve seen – especially the clear fish returns and precise map detail – I know Garmin is going to give me the competitive advantage on the water.” Read more of the press release here.
Visit Garmin Marine for product availability and information.
By John Johnson BassFan Senior Editor
Jason Christie has pocketed nearly $360,000 from FLW Tour events over the past 2 seasons, plus another $22,500 from the Forrest Wood Cup. Nonetheless, it's very likely that he'll forego that circuit in 2015 to spend more time with his family and focus his competitive energy on the Bassmaster Elite Series."Nothing's for sure yet, but there's a 90-percent chance I'll be fishing the Elite Series, the (Major League Fishing) Selects and one division of the (Bassmaster) Opens," said the Oklahoman who's spending his second straight offseason atop the BassFan World Rankings. "I'll probably jackpot a Rayovac and some other events here and there."It's going to be hard because FLW is where my career started and it'll always hold a special place for me. The following year, if the schedules line up right, I'll probably start fishing both again, but everything this year is pointing toward sitting one out. I think I'd be really fighting it trying to fish both."If you could fish them both without the schedule being just crazy, I'd do it," he continued. "I think a lot of people would."Narrower Focus NeededChristie was the most consistent of the 14 competitors who fished both major circuits this year, averaging a 30th-place finish across 14 events. He made four final-day appearances (including his victory at the Lake Dardanelle Elite Series) and ended up 6th in the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) race and 15th on the Elite side.This year's schedule wasn't any easier than next year's in terms of events stacked on top of one another in the spring, but there's a big hitch in 2015 – the Elite Series' first visit to the West since 2010. Back-to-back derbies at the Sacramento River in California and Lake Havasu in Arizona are sandwiched directly between the FLW Tour stops at Beaver Lake (Arkansas) and Lake Eufaula (Alabama).With three athletically active daughters at home (the oldest is a sophomore in high school and the youngest is in 3rd grade), Christie has become increasingly unwilling to spend the bulk of the year on the road."I want to be around more for them," he said. "For me, the longest days on the water are practice days when my wife calls and tells me one of the kids hit a home run or made a key basket or something like that. It's not as bad when it happens on a tournament day, but in practice it makes for hard times."Another key thing is my dad and I fished a lot when I was growing up, but since I started fishing professionally he's pretty much given it up. He's due to retire real soon and I want to spend some time fishing and hunting with him."
From a professional perspective, winning an Elite Series AOY has become his primary goal. Had Greg Hackney not done it last year, he wouldn't have believed it was possible while fishing both tours."He proved me wrong about that, but to me, it's hard to stay up for that many tournaments. I want to take this next year and focus on one tour and prepare for each event instead of just showing up on the first day of practice and going fishing. It might not work and I might find out that the other way is best."If you look back at my career, as the year goes on, I usually have a poor finish or two in the late summer (he was a season-worst 77th at Cayuga Lake this year). I like fishing in the late summer and I've had some good finishes, but I think you lose a little bit of that edge you had in the spring when you're all fired up to get out there. When you fish as much as I have the last 2 years, I think it sets you up to get burned out."A Collaborative CallChristie didn't arrive at his near-certain decision to scale back his schedule on his own."I talked it over with my wife and she wanted me to do whatever I felt like I needed to do, but deep down I know she's happy with it," he said. "I also talked it over with my sponsors and all of them are good with it, so that makes me feel good. The last few years I felt like I sacrificed quite a bit to put myself out there and fish as much as I did."I don't want to use the term 'slacking off,' but I think I need to trim it down a little bit so I can focus more and try to get rid of those one or two poor finishes per year."Next year's Classic will take place at South Carolina's Lake Hartwell, which was the site of his first tour-level victory in 2011. A win there would make the season an instant success."The Classic and the Angler of the Year are at the top of my list now. Winning (regular-season) tournaments is awesome and I've never experienced anything else like it, but those two things are why we do what we do."As far as our families sacrificing, that's what it's all about."Notable> Having a boat for each tour and flying between stops to cut down on travel time is not an option Christie is willing to undertake in order to fish both circuits. "It's hard enough to organize and maintain one boat, much less two," he said.
Read more: http://www.bassfan.com/news_article.asp?id=5083#.VI3RX_nF_9s#ixzz3LtoDdZ9z
Jason Christie was nearly certain his chance to win this week swam away on Saturday when he tried to swing a 7-pound caliber fish into the boat. He failed to execute and the fish took off back into Lake Dardanelle. Still, he managed to weigh a 20-pound bag to work his way into contention entering the final day.On Sunday, he cemented his place as one of the best closers in the sport with a 19-02 sack that helped him rally from 4th place and capture his second Elite Series win in as many seasons and his fourth tour-level victory in the last 14 months. His 4-day total of 72-03 was just 4 ounces better than runner-up Gerald Swindle, who caught a day-best 20-01 to close with 71-15.Greg Hackney, who led following days 2 and 3, saw his weight drop off for a fourth straight day and his 15-03 bag earned him a 3rd-place showing with 71-11. Rick Clunn's bid for his first win in 12 years fell short as his 15-04 stringer knocked him down two spots to 4th with 70-15.Keith Combs rounded out the Top 5 as he caught 14-00 to finish with 68-03.When it was over the top 4 were separated by just 1-04, an excruciatingly narrow margin on a lake that proved to be a powerhouse despite ever-changing weather and conditions throughout the event.Here's how the rest of the finalists finished up:6. Mike Iaconelli: 67-027. Cliff Crochet: 66-148. Chris Zaldain: 66-109. John Crews: 65-1410. Paul Elias: 64-1211. Takahiro Omori: 63-0612. Skeet Reese: 59-13Christie, the two-tour stalwart who's currently 2nd in the BassFan World Rankings, was coming off a 5th-place finish at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic last week. His familiarity with the Arkansas River, especially the pools close to his home in Oklahoma, certainly paid dividends this week. In 2012, he won a Bassmaster Central Open at Fort Gibson Lake, five pools up the river and had said that Dardanelle fished a lot like Robert Kerr Reservoir.Along with the $100,000 paycheck, Christie notched a berth in next year's Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell, site of his first FLW Tour win in March 2011.Heading into the event, the fishing up the river was said to be worthy of producing winning-quality stringers, but ultimately it was won from the middle of the lake and down toward the host city of Russellville as anglers dealt with a reservoir that changed virtually by the hour. What would've normally been an offshore post-spawn event was dominated by bank-beaters who fished grass, rock, wood and stretches with moving water.Hackney's lead in the Angler of the Year (AOY) chase was short-lived as his finish dropped him a point behind Mark Davis after five events. Davis has 412 points, Hackney 411 and reigning AOY Aaron Martens is 3rd with 390.The Elite Series is off for a few weeks and will resume June 11 with its inaugural B.A.S.S.Fest, a 5-day event set for Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tenn., where Bassmaster Open anglers will vie for an opportunity to compete against Elite Series anglers.Christie 'Shocked'> Day 4: 5, 19-02 (20, 72-03)By the first week of June last year, Christie had turned the top level of his sport on its ear by winning three tour-level events in the matter of 2 months and rocketing to the top of the BassFan World Rankings. As 2014 started creeping toward the end of the May, the Oklahoma pro was starting to wonder if that wickedly superb stretch was just an anomaly.With his win today, his fifth career tour-level triumph and yet another come-from-behind effort, it's safe to say what happened last year was no fluke.
just didn't want it to be a little hot streak and have it be over with," he said. "At the start of the year I was thinking about was it a little spurt or can I really compete with these guys? Every time I've won – every single one – I've had no idea that I was going to have a chance to win. This was no different than any of those. I was shocked as anyone else."
He caught a couple decent 3-pound caliber fish in the first couple hours today along with a pair of 2 1/2s and was sitting on close to 12 pounds most of the day. All week, though, his best stretch of time had been between 1 and 3 in the afternoon. It produced again for him today.
"I'd just put my trolling motor down and fish until it got close to 1," he said. "Then when the current got moving, I'd start hopping stretches that were getting the most current and depending on if the water was coming up or going down."
He spent the entirety of the event swimming a half-ounce Booyah jig around the edges of water willow clumps in Illinois Bayou on the lower end of the lake.
More details about Christie's and the other top finishers' patterns will be published soon.
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