The $1 million Elite Series moved to Lake Travis (18,931-acres) near Austin this year for the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest. The May 17-20 tournament featured more than a hundred of some of the best bass fishermen in the world. The winner received a first place prize of $100,000, plus an automatic berth in the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Drew Benton from Panama City, Florida won the four day tournament with a five-bass limit that weighed in at 16 pounds and 15 ounces. The Toyota Bassmaster Tournament benefits the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Like last year and all those other years since 2007, the tournament and proceeds have gone to present the best in fishing conservation including a catch-weigh-release format. The tournament continues to benefit TPWD, which has been instrumental in introducing guidelines that have influenced tournaments throughout the United States. In an interview recently Dave Terre, Chief of Fish Management Research for TPWD, discussed how the event has now become a Signature Event.
Terre said, “There is no doubt that the reason the tournament has been so successful is the financial support of Toyota. Gulf State Toyota wanted to become involved in a conservation program that would permit family involvement in the great outdoors.”
Each year Gulf State Toyota has contributed $250,000 to promote the Bassmaster Texas Fest, for a grand total of $3 million. Toyota sponsors different fishermen by providing transportation and resources as they journey the bass fishing circuit.
Toyota Bass Fishing Team
I selected four bass fishermen who make up the Toyota Bass Fishing Team for comments on fishing and the trucks they drive. Team Toyota consists of Michael Iacinelli, Kevin VanDam, Terry Scroggins and Gerald Swindle.
Kevin VanDam said, “I put about 50,000 miles a year on my truck. I drive it hard. But I still get better than 20 mpg. The truck is big (over 5,000lbs) yet it is easy to back and maneuver. The gas engine is a hardy 5.7 V-8 that delivers nearly 400 horse power, but over 400 lb-ft of torque. It is only a half-ton but carries all my tackle and pulls my boat without any trouble.”
VanDam has been a full time B.A.S.S. pro since 1990. During his career he had qualified in 27 Bassmaster Classic tournaments, participating in over 300 tournaments and 24 B.A.S.S. wins. His earnings have been $6,259,976 over his career.
Terry Scroggins hails from San Mateo, Florida. His 17 year career features participation in 209 B.A.S.S. events while winning 5. B.A.S.S. winnings over his career has been $1,828,250.
Scroggins said, “Tundra has the best suspension in the world. It holds the road like it should and stops when it needs to, unlike some trucks that cannot stop quickly when towing or loaded. It is only a half-ton, but the personality of a ¾ ton. The Crew Cab is bold and comfortable. I have lots of stuff and the closed camper shell fits well on the bed while offering great storage and resting comfort.”
Gerald Swindle has participated in 258 B.A.S.S. events, winning one over his 24 year career. The Guntersville, Alabama native has B.A.S.S. earnings of $1,983,587.
Swindle said, “The thing I like about my Tundra is the great leg room and size of the seats. Other trucks were always too small and I always got sore when driving. But even at 6-feet 4-inches, Tundra keeps me comfortable to the end of the trip. Torque is plentiful and the oversize brakes makes stopping quicker and safer than most other trucks. The Leer fiberglass truck cap on the bed carries my tackle and provides a place to rest.”
Mike Iaconelli hails from New Jersey and loves to fish the Delaware River. He has earnings of $1,892,051 over his 23 years B.A.S.S. career while participating in 271 B.A.S.S. events.
Iaconelli said, “I have great confidence diving my Tundra whether it is through the big city or down small-narrow country roads. The truck looks good and is the best towing truck in the country. I do about 40,000 miles a year, and I am tough on the truck. The double cab is roomy and the 4WD with a Leer fiberglass truck cap on the bed makes for great comfort and storage, and drivability.”
(Photography by Alan McGuckin)
Durhl Caussey writes a column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or [email protected]