In case you missed it, the PAA's Toyota Texas Bass Classic this weekend ended with a dramatic finish. After three days of fishing, Bassmaster Elite Series anglers Keith Combs and Mike Iaconelli were tied for the top spot with 76lb 12oz of Lake Conroe bass. I had the chance to talk with Keith Combs today and get his take on the exciting finish.
The event shaped up to be a good one with some monster fish being brought to the scales, including Keith's 10-8 on Day 1. Ike and Combs were fishing about as differently as you can in an event, with Keith Combs running and gunning across the lake and hitting several spots during the day, while Iaconelli basically milked one good area for all it was worth. While Combs lead wire-to-wire, it was Ike who steadily got closer and tied him after going into the final day four pounds back.
I asked Keith how it felt going against an angler of Ike's caliber and if there was any added pressure. He responded with a quick "No, all of these anglers are the best in the world and all of them are capable of winning". That is the truth and one of the great things about this event and is a big reason why many are considering this to be the true unifying championship event in bass fishing. The Top 15 from each of the FLW Tour, B.A.S.S. Elite Series and PAA trail along with the defending champ and four sponsor exemptions make this a stacked field.
Talking to Keith, it was clear he was still very excited about the day before and glad that he won. I asked him how it felt having a "sudden death fish-off" and he said it was very nerve wracking, exciting and will definitely make for great t.v..
He had left the fish biting the last day as he had to come in for the day and was excited about his chances. Ike made the decision to fish right outside of the launch area in hopes to catch a quick keeper and win the event instead of heading all the way to his honey hole. In the back of his mind, Keith said he knew that Ike had a great chance to do it right where he was. After fishing a few spots, he saw Ike leave and move to another area. All the while, Keith kept moving spots after his good area didn't produce. He caught his winning fish on a Norman DD14. He recalled having all big fish baits on and decided to stick with what got him there instead of just trying to downsize and catch a keeper. The decision paid off and Keith Combs is the newest Toyota Texas Bass Classic Champion.
On another note, this marks Ike's fourth 2nd Place finish in the last 2.5 years (Forrest Wood Cup, Bassmaster Classic and two TTBC's). Is he the new Aaron Martens?