BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 20

FROM JOE TO PRO

munications Photo by BASS Com

0’s, 3 tions, 1 - p o T ca n, 6 i i f i l W a 1 u : . Q B.A.S.S aster Classic er winnings. Bassm 45,000 in care ou T W L F and $6 0’s, 6 s and $1.1 1 - p o T e 11 c , s n a n i r a W e FLW: 2 pionship App nnings. Cham in career wi Million

just like the other guy, but I am not going to do it if it costs me a paycheck.”

am R e T A B A t st boat a r stern e n o W W r e – t s 7 199 Bassma g n i h s ar ted 2000 – St r st uit. c r d i n c a l r a u n o o i T aster Invitat m s s a B r o ali ed f u Q – 2 0 20 e, CA. k a L r a e l eries, C S Classic. t r a t S r Eve Tour W W L L F F n n o o Tour. W 2003 – W W L F n o eason in, AL. s t r t a s r i M F n – a 2004 ake Log L uble- n o o D p . i r h u s o n T o r smaste Champi s a B n o season t s a L – assics. l 5 C 6 200 0 ‘ , FL. d o n h a o T 5 0 e ‘ k r a fo ic on L s s a quali ed l C r e t ssmas -up. r a e B n n n o u r W r 2006 – the Yea f o r e l r-up. g e n n A n s u r e i r r a e FLW S f the Ye o r e l g n A Tour W L F – 9 0 20 r

n e s u a l C : s t Luke n e m e v e i h Ac egional.

CHAMP » CLASSIC In 2005, Luke’s last season

shing both BASS and FLW, he quali ed for three championships: the FLW Championship, and the 2005 and 2006 Bassmaster Clas- sics. After a poor showing at the Pittsburgh Classic in 2005, Luke decided to commit to the FLW Tour for the following season. There was only one last obligation to ful ll with B.A.S.S. – the 2006 Classic on Lake Toho, Florida. “I went into the Toho Classic not knowing a lot about it. I got some help from JT Kenney and Bobby Lane. Both told me some generalities about it – that they liked Kissimmee better than Toho – things like that. I went down there for pre-prac- tice and didn’t do all that spectacular. But when I came back for the one of cial prac- tice day, I found probably one of the best places I have ever found prior to a tourna- ment, even to this day. I didn’t catch any

sh, but I was shaking an incredible num- ber of sh off that I could see that were all ve to seven pounds.” The rst morning, Luke caught his limit in ten minutes and left his starting area almost immediately. At weigh-in, his haul astonished the capacity crowd and other Classic competitors, registering 29 pounds, 6 ounces. Luke nished the day having posted the heaviest single day limit in Bassmaster Classic history. Luke extended his lead on Day 2, with- out exerting any signi cant pressure on his honey hole. On the last day with inclem- ent weather quickly approaching, Luke felt compelled to sh a new location in order to solidify the Classic title. His decision nearly back red. “I ran off to another place I never even shed in pre-practice. I went over there, tried shing, and didn’t catch a thing. In hindsight, with the front com- ing, I should have stuck with the re- ally good area instead. I almost out- smarted myself. Luckily, I was able to go back there for 30 minutes be- fore the giant storm hit and catch

enough to win. I cut things way too close and should never have done that.” Although the days and months im- mediately following the Classic were lled with sponsor obligations, press interviews, and personal appearances, Luke inwardly reveled at his accomplishment. It had, without a doubt, legitimized his career. Since being crowned Classic Champ, Luke has continued his assault on tour ac- countants, having eclipsed the one-million dollar mark faster than any other angler in history. Recently he surpassed the same milestone on the FLW Tour alone. Many would believe that winning the FLW Angler of the Year title is Luke’s next obvious ambition. In 2009, he came within ve points of capturing the honor. That

ations

BASS C o

mmunic

20

«

January/February 2011

Photo b y