Ultimate Bass

Laura Gober Goes for Top Title

Laura Gober of Pendergrass, Ga., has improved so much on the Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour she’s in contention this season for the sport’s highest honor, Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year.

Laura Gober of Pendergrass, Ga., has improved so much on the Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour she’s in contention this season for the sport’s highest honor, Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year.

With just one regular-season tournament remaining, Gober is in third place in the AOY standings. She is 43 points behind fellow Georgian and points-race leader Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, and just 34 points behind Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas.

“I feel pretty good about my points standing,” said Gober, who in 2007 won a WBT tournament on the Red River in Louisiana. “I like looking up, knowing what I need to do: Get in front of Juanita and Pam. I wouldn’t be unhappy if I was leading in points, but I think I’d be feeling a lot more pressure.”

The angler who captures the AOY title will win a Toyota Tundra and an entry in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala.

The 2009 WBT Angler of the Year will become just the second woman to compete in the Classic, taking a place in angling history beside Kim Bain-Moore of Alabaster, Ala., who as 2008 WBT AOY was the first woman to compete in a Classic.

Does Gober believe she can win the AOY title? She’s confident, not cocky, about that.

“I’m trying not to look at the big picture, I’m trying to take it one tournament at a time, concentrating on keeping in the top five,” she said.

That means she’s focusing on the Sept. 10-12 tournament on Old Hickory Lake out of Hendersonville, Tenn. After that event, the top 20 in points will qualify for the Academy Sports + Outdoors WBT Championship, set for Oct. 16-18 on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La. — the same venue at which Gober took her WBT win.

Qualifying for the Red River championship is not necessarily heavy on her mind. “Where I am now in points, I’m virtually locked into the championship, even if I fall hard at Old Hickory,” she said.

“I’m concentrating on Old Hickory, how I can win it,” she said. “Last year I did pretty good there — I finished seventh — so I feel confident going into it.”

She said she’s planning a scouting trip to the Tennessee fishery, and has begun to formulate a game plan.

“I know current will play a big part,” she said. “When they pull current there, ledge fishing is a big deal. That really does not play to my strengths because I’m not a big ledge fisherman. But the river fishing and the flipping will. If I can get on some fish with that technique, I think I’ll do really well.”

Again, Gober is confident, not cocky. She has worked for her recent success, and her track record in the standings proves her efforts are paying off. She finished 34th in points in 2006, the circuit’s inaugural year. She was 19th in 2007. In 2008, she hit 14th. Her position in third place now comes from top-12 finishes in all three events so far this season.

“Every year I’ve been gaining experience and the confidence I need to go out and compete against the other anglers. Every chance I have, I spend my time fishing,” she said.

“And going to the different river systems and lakes has helped me learn how to adjust to different conditions. Now I always ask myself, ‘What did I do wrong at the last tournament? What can I do differently in the next tournament?’

“I love fishing, I love the challenge I put on myself to get out there. I’ve always been athletic, and like the individual sports — I ran cross-country and track. I like being able to say I accomplished my goal, and that I did it on my own.”

LUCKY CHARMS: People from all walks of life carry objects or do certain things they believe will coax luck onto their side. Bassmaster Elite Series anglers are no different.

As most Elite fans know, 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., has his lucky chocolate chip cookies, baked by his wife and carefully packed on board along with his fishing gear.

Maybe cookies helped make him a 15-time tournament champion and four-time AOY – maybe not. But he’s not alone among Elite pros in his fondness for talismans.

2007 Classic champ Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., wears red tennis shoes for luck. In the 2009 Classic, after Duckett led the first day, he showed off a charm — a lucky piece in a four-leaf clover shape — given to him by his mother.

For other pros, it’s not things, but routines. On a competition day, 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., makes sure he is the first competitor to arrive at the boat ramp.

Kevin Short of Mayflower, Ark., who took his first Elite title in May, says he eats the same foods for breakfast every competition day.

BASS SLAM: Five days, scores of fish, three tired but happy guys. It took some doing, but they accomplished their joint goal of a BASS Slam.

In blogs on http://www.Bassmaster.com through the past week, three anglers chronicled their quest for all eight types of black bass.

One was James Hall, editor of Bassmaster Magazine. Even after coming close to being swept away by the fast-rising Tallapoosa River in northern Alabama, Hall was enthusiastic about spending five days on various waters with two co-workers, BASS Conservation Director Chris Horton and BASS writer David Hunter Jones.

After Day Five, Hall wrote: “So, to conclude my comments about our five-day BASS Slam trek, allow me to simply recommend you give this challenge a try. Granted, I’d not suggest attempting it in five days, but certainly take good friends along to enjoy the ride.”

WORLD RECORD?: Bassmaster.com is closely tracking the unfolding story of a catch in Japan of a largemouth bass that would match the existing record that’s stood for 77 years: 22 pounds, 4 ounces. Is the catch genuine or a hoax? If genuine, is it a new world record?

Bassmaster.com will keep fishing fans informed of the latest developments.

CHANGE OF PACE: “I don’t look at it as taking time off. To me it’s more like doing something besides competing in Elite Series tournaments, something different that gives me a fresh perspective on things.” — 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam in his June 26 blog on BASS Insider about what he’s dong during the Elite Series break

About BASS For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multimedia platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports network, Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences. The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS annually sanctions more than 20,000 events. BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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