It came down to the wire on Lake Conroe for defending champion and Texas native Keith Combs to pull off the repeat victory, but he fell just short of keeping the title.
After an unprecedented 11 anglers competed on Sunday, Bryan Thrift, of Shelbyville, NC, was crowned The Toyota Texas Bass Classic champion. With a dominating Sunday, Thrift bested second place angler and 2010 TTBC Champion Brian Snowden at the world championship of professional bass fishing. Huntingston angler Keith Combs came in third.
With a comeback on the final day, Bryan Thrift overcame a final day deficit of 4 pounds, 12 ounces to win the 2012 TTBC by 9 pounds, 4 ounces. Even after finishing the first day of the TTBC in third place with a 16 pound, 12 ounce limit that included a 6.22 pound kicker, the North Carolina pro wasn’t very optimistic about his chances of contending for the title.
The turning point in Thrift’s tournament came when heavy cloud cover and wind arrived in the area late on Friday afternoon and lingered throughout the remaining two days of competition. On Saturday, Thrift returned to his magical stretch and caught two keepers on a buzzbait in the first hour of competition. He finished day two with a modest limit weighing 11 pounds, 8 ounces and snuck inside the final day cut in ninth place with a total weight of 28 pounds, 4 ounces, nearly 5 pounds behind day two leader Brian Snowden.
On Sunday, Thrift returned to his primary stretch and quickly went to work in the blustery conditions that persisted throughout the day.
“I picked up a chatterbait and caught one and missed one,” he said. “I went back down the bank with a crankbait and caught a 4 pounder. That got me off to a good start and calmed me down.”
He landed a 7 pounder at 10:30 and added a 4 pound, 8 ounce largemouth shortly after noon. With minutes remaining in the day, he pulled up on a brush pile and boated a 6 pound, 8 ounce fish that boosted his final day weight to an even 25 pounds and capped off an incredible comeback.
“This tournament is truly a championship event,” said Thrift just moments after lifting the TTBC trophy in front of the crowd. “You’re fishing against the top professional bass fisherman over the course of the year, so it’s a stacked field.”
Angler Terry Scroggins earned the ATX Wheels Big Bass Award for his 7 lb. 7 oz. catch on Saturday.
Keith Combs finished with 43 pounds, 8 ounces. Jasper angler Todd Faircloth finished in a tie for sixth with 40 pounds, 12 ounces.