BassWestUSA - November/December, 2009, Page 25

Byron Velvick Prepares to Cast

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Photo by Dan O’Sullivan

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He said that there were many days during competition that he would throw the big bait, hook up big fish, only to have them leap a few feet away from the boat and come unbuttoned. “Out west, and in the Opens, nets are allowed, but on the BASS Elite level, they are not, that was a factor I didn’t recognize early on,” he said. “There is a lot of weight being tossed around in a swimbait, and if they (big bass) can throw a lipless crankbait so easily, then swimbaits have a higher percentage of opportunity to become dislodged.” Velvick is quick to point out that he is not one to make excuses, that he chose his path, and that the chances for tremendous reward was there on the next cast. He also realized that with the chance for glory, came risk of humiliation. “I wasn’t used to finishing in the bottom of the field,” said the two-time U.S. Open Champion. “I was finding myself in the 90’s and 100’s in the standings more than I would like, and I needed to re-think my strategy.” He began to look at his approach, and what he realized, was that the scenario of being the Dee Thomas of swimbaits had a hurdle to overcome. “What Dee did with flipping was find an entirely new group of fish that weren’t being targeted,” Velvick said. “That was the beauty of Flippin’, Dee was fishing in areas that most people either weren’t thinking of, or didn’t have the right equipment to challenge him in; swimbait fishing is a little bit different.” While Thomas and his pupils had water largely to themselves, Velvick was still in competition with everyone else. “Swimbaits are still used in the same areas that anglers throw crankbaits, jigs and Carolina rigs,” he revealed. “So, while I was using baits that would give me an advantage for the biggest bite in an area, those fish were still being pressured by everyone else, and being caught on other types of presentations, I was set- ting myself up for difficulty.” The paradigm shift began to occur when in the same period, three of his friends chal- lenged him to look at the angler he had been in the past. “My lifelong friends Steve Oliver, Ish Monroe and an outdoor writer friend of mine from the west all said basically the same

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November/December 2009

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