By Joel Shangle - July 19, 2018
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Florida – If Bobby Lane, Mike Iaconelli, Andy Montgomery, Greg Hackney, Skeet Reese and Takahiro Omori weren’t feeling the pressure of a potential General Tire World Championship title in the rounds leading up to the Sudden Death Round, they sure are now.
To advance into the Championship Round and have a shot at his second Johnny Morris Award in two years, the six remaining anglers will have to contend with the following factors when the Sudden Death Round premiers this Saturday on CBS-TV (2 p.m. EDT).
Well rested vs. battle tested
By the time they go “lines in” for Period 1, Montgomery will not have fished for four days; Reese will have not fished for three. The two received fast-passes into Sudden Death thanks to their victories in their respective Shotgun Rounds, but in a week that has seen increasingly stronger frontal activity as the weeks progresses, does time off the water actually help Montgomery and Reese, or hurt them?
“Actually, sometimes being on the water can hurt you,” Montgomery counters. “Even if you’re fishing a different lake, you can still try to force things to how you caught them the previous day. It seems like my first-round success in Major League Fishing has been because I have no pre-conceived notions, so I don’t mind at all that I haven’t fished for a few days.”
Who are you, Blue (Cypress)?
Scanning a map of the bass fisheries of western Indian River County, it’s easy to skim right over Blue Cypress Lake, which will serve as the “playing field” for this Sudden Death Round. That’s because of its neighbors: Garcia Lake lies less than a half-mile to the south, and Stick Marsh/Farm 13 and Keenansville Lake are just a few minutes to the north as the crow flies.
“Blue Cypress is the least-known of all those lakes in the area, and it’s by far the toughest,” says MLF Select pro J.T. Kenney, a resident of nearby Palm Bay. “It looks absolutely fabulous – you look around at the cypress trees and think ‘Oh man, this place is old Florida, bass-fishing Heaven on Earth’ – but it’s just not as productive as Garcia and Stick Marsh. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad lake, but there just aren’t the numbers of fish there.”
From fast Lane to slow Lane?
Fresh off of his best competitive round of this 2018 Championship, defending World Champion Bobby Lane seems like the chalk pick to claim one of the four spots in the final round. Lane struggled early in his Elimination Round, but then finally put together a strong pattern in the final period and raced to a 10-plus-pound win on Stick Marsh.
Consequently – and because of his Florida pedigree – Lane is clearly a Top 4 choice in Sudden Death. Or is he?
“Blue Cypress probably won’t fish like a ‘typical’ Florida lake, so maybe Bobby isn’t the obvious pick this week,” Kenney observes. “I know that Bobby will want to put a jig in his hand and flip grass all day, but he won’t be able to do that. I wouldn’t be shocked if one of these other guys caught ‘em on a finesse worm or a chatterbait. This might be a place where a great junk fisherman like Andy Montgomery is the pick to make.”