Knocked out in round 4.

If only I had done half as well as I did in my rookie year on the Elite Series tournament trail, I could have left Toledo Bend in Many, Louisiana, a happy man. At the 2012 Elite Series Toledo Bend Battle, I went all four rounds and finished in 5th place. At the 2014 Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend – no such luck. This time, Toledo Bend landed a knock-out punch that left me down for the count and out of the hunt. I didn’t even come close to making Saturday’s cut. This year, Toledo Bend had me beat, but good.

Bonus for TR heaviest sack, presented at TB 5-1-14 berkely bonus checkcliff-prince-4M2Z2618

At Toledo Bend’s day 1 weigh-in, I picked up this $500 “Berkley Heavyweight” bonus check for having the biggest bag at the Table Rock Elite. No such luck at this tourney!

As I know from personal experience, Toledo Bend is one heckuva fishery. It wasn’t that I didn’t catch any fish – I caught a lot – just not any big ones. Never got on ’em. But they were out there, as tournament winner and Elite Series rookie Jacob Powroznik proved to all of us, bagging a 79.12 four-day, total weight. Not bad, Jacob! Congrats.

As for me, I’m shaking it off, standing tall and heading for Dardanelle in pursuit of bigger bass, a full four rounds, some AOY points, and a much, much stronger finish!

Table Rock? 97th to 9th!


Day 2 weigh-in at Table Rock Lake Elite was a good one!

Practice went OK at the Bassmaster Elite at Table Rock Lake, MO, and I was catching fish in many different areas of the lake. Once the tourney got underway, I fished the White River and was lucky to catch what little fish I did. And I do mean little! Not many good keepers on Thursday. After weigh-in, I found myself near the bottom of the leaderboard. It would take a killer day Friday to keep me fishing into the weekend. I knew I had to switch things up on day 2, so I headed for the James River. Oh, what a relief! Great change. Great fish. Great day! With a bag weighing in at over 19 lbs., I moved from 97th to 12th place. Nice jump! That was more than enough to keep me in the tourney at least one more day. After another nice limit on Saturday, I was still in the top 12 and made Sunday’s cut for the first time this Elite season. Man, that felt good! In the end, I finished in 9th place. 97th to 9th in four days? I’ll take it!

Looking back, I think I need to slow down in practice. Be a little more deliberate and less rushed, so I’ll know what I’m on. Toledo Bend is up next. This is gonna be fun.

Home team pro strikes out…

Damn-it… damn-it… damn-it! I had hoped to start fast and finish strong at 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament #2. After all, it was in my home town, Palatka, FL, on my home water – the St. Johns River – and I had been catching some monsters on the St. Johns over the past month or two. But I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. After two days of fishing, and fishing hard, I ended up in 56th place – about 1 lb. out of the cut! Man, that hurt.

St. Johns River Elite, day 1, 3-2014 cliff_prince_3I had a really great practice. I tore them up on Monday! I spent most of the other practice days eliminating water. Once the competition got underway on Thursday, I decided to avoid the crowd on the west side of Lake George. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have. Sure, there was a big crowd, but also some mighty big fish! The Lake George fish were so plentiful, it pretty much held everyone else in the top 50. I had a chance to do well, but opportunity slipped away when I lost 8-pounders both Thursday and Friday. That ended up costing me, big-time. In this business EVERY Bite counts! Those two were MAJOR! Missing catches like that is the stuff nightmares are made of. Honestly, It’s been hard for me to sleep ever since!

Enough tough luck stories. Headed to Branson, MO and Table Rock. Wish me well!

Third time’s a charm?

With the 2014 season just underway, I’m all fired up and ready to hit the tournament trail in my third year as a Bassmaster Elite Series pro.

I made the round of 50 at the Lake Seminole opener, finishing 37th overall. Not quite the results I wanted, but at least I made it to day 3 and collected a few AOY points. With the second Elite Series tournament being on the St. Johns River, right in my hometown of Palatka, Florida, I figured I could make a pretty strong showing. But I missed the cut by a pound or so, finishing 56th. Go figure.


Day 1 o4 2014 Lake Seminole Elite.

Over the previous two seasons, I’ve finished in the money 11 times in Bassmaster Elite Series and Open tournaments, with 3 top five Elite finishes and a trip to the Bassmaster Classic. The Elite Series returns to several locations where I’ve had success in the past, like Toledo Bend and Cayuga in New York, so I’m hoping my familiarity with those fisheries pays off again in 2014. One new Elite tournament stop that I hope to pre-fish is Lake Dardanelle, in Arkansas. Another Elite I’m really looking forward to and excited about is the Bassmaster BASSFest at Chickamauga Lake, in Tennessee. My family is planning a summer trip to join me at the event, and the added support of my “No. 1 fans” sure can’t hurt!

When will I consider the 2014 season a big success? If I finish near the top of the leaderboard often enough to cash a few fat checks and punch my ticket to the 2015 Classic. And a few tour wins sure wouldn’t hurt! Then again, there’s a-hundred-and-something Elite angles I’ll be competing against all season long who’ll tell you the very same thing. Wish me luck!

Round One: Lake Seminole.

prince_fourth of day 3 seminoleAt the Elite Series season opener on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, GA, I spent the majority of my practice looking for spawning fish, and was planning on site fishing for the tourney days. But sometimes plans just don’t work out as planned. Know what I mean? Just prior to the tournament, a storm blew through and really muddied up the water. I still ended up catching all my fish site fishing, there were just fewer of them to choose from. And they were somewhat harder to find. Seems I also missed the shallow water bite. Sounds like I should have thrown some chatter baits at ’em. Oh, well.

After 3 days of competition, I ended up in 37th place, a finish I’m really thankful for. Not a bad start to my Elite season. I made the cut and picked up my first AOY points of 2014. Can’t complain!

Next up – the St.. Johns River Elite in my home town of Palatka, FL.