Suggs, a 37-year-old Tour rookie, finds himself in an unbelievable position entering the season finale of the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer. With 1142 points, the Arkansas angler holds a narrow, 13-point lead over veteran Alabama pro Gerald Swindle (1129). Third is Kansas pro Bent Chapman (1112), followed by reigning CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Michael Iaconelli (1082) and Louisiana Tour rookie Greg Hackney (1059).
It is a lofty position that brings with it significant pressure, Suggs admits.
"There's a lot of added pressure that I put on myself," he said. "I don't feel like I have a bulls eye because I'm concerned about anybody else.
"I can't control what anybody else does, but I can control what I do, I'm worried about myself - what I've got going and what I've got to do to catch fish this week. I can't think about it any other way.
"I would rather be in Gerald's position. He told me he was sitting right where he wanted to be. It would take a lot of pressure off of myself."
In addition to his chance of winning the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year title (one of the sport's two biggest crowns), Suggs is battling Hackney for the coveted CITGO Rookie of the Year award.
And it all comes down to a battle on massive lakes Moultrie and Marion - bodies of water that Suggs had never seen before practice began on Monday. Based on his 2004 track record, that shouldn't be a hindrance. Table Rock is the only Tour lake that he had ever fished before, and he did not pre-fish a single Tour stop this season.
"To win Angler of the Year would be a dream come true," Suggs said. "Even if I don't win it, this year has been a blast. I didn't know how the year would go. I had fished against these guys in Opens and Invitationals, but until you do this at this level, you can't know that these guys are nothing by class acts. Everyone of them."
BRAUER'S BEAT. With his latest heroics on Lake Eufaula, Former CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Denny Brauer moves into second place in BASS victories with 15 (behind Roland Martin's 19). It was his second win on Eufaula and fourth victory in the state of Alabama (along with Wheeler and Guntersville). He has also won three events in Tennessee (Tennessee River, Chickamauga and Kentucky Lake) and two in both Texas (Sam Rayburn) and North Carolina (High Rock and Neuse/Trent rivers).
His other triumphs came on the Potomac and Illinois rivers, and lakes Russell and Buggs Island.
Brauer is poised to make BASS history by becoming the first pro to top the $2 million mark in BASS earnings. He currently has amassed $1,822,939.21
Fans can watch "The CITGO Bassmasters" telecast of the Lake Eufaula tournament on Saturday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.
BOWLING FOR PAIN. Apparently bowling is a full-contact sport.
After being eliminated from the Lake Eufaula Tour stop, a group of Bassmaster pros went bowling on Saturday evening before heading to South Carolina and Santee-Cooper Reservoir the following morning. And a pair of pros came away with injuries.
According to Texas pro Kelly Jordon, Gerald Swindle sprained a finger that hampered his ability to hold a reel. And western pro Luke Clausen pulled a muscle in his backside. "He's in so much pain he can hardly walk," Jordon said, laughing.
GATOR WRESTLING. Ever wonder what it would be like to battle a 400-pound alligator on a flipping rod? Randy Dearman knows.
The veteran Texas pro, who guides gator hunters between tournaments, recently caught an enormous specimen on a 7 1/2-foot Castaway flipping stick and 100 pound test Lynch line.
"It's a lot of fun," Dearman said." You just put a big treble hook on, throw it across him, pull it back so that it snags him and hold on. We just snag it into him and take off to him with the trolling motor. If that isn't fast enough, crank up the big motor and keep up, and soon or later he'll get tired.
"You don't play the gator. You just hold on."
DID YOU KNOW? Former Classic champion Tommy Martin has competed in more BASS, tournaments than any pro - 285. He is followed by Rick Clunn 282, Roland Martin 263 Woo Daves 244, Larry Nixon 242, Gary Klein 235, Jimmy Houston 227, George Cochran 225, Deny Brauer 224, Zell Rowland 217, Guy Eaker 212 and Jim Bitter 193.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Texan Tim Carroll of Oklahoma will turn 42 on March 23rd, Florida's Chuck Economou will celebrate his 48th birthday on March 27th, while Curt Lytle of Virginia and Texan Darren Wolf share the same birthday on March 28th. North Carolina's Dustin Wilks will be 27 on March 29th. South Carolina's Jason Quinn becomes 32 on March 31st.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO... Jason Quinn would likely be running his family's machine shop business on Lake Wylie.
THEY SAID IT. "When the braided lines came out, I know a lot of people in the industry figured I would automatically go to those types of line and that it would be an advantage for me. And I certainly spent a lot of time experimenting with them. But I think you need to get to a comfort level with your equipment. I've learned the line (monofilament) I use. So why make a change? I hate to see anglers do too much jumping around. There's nothing wrong with trying to improve by using new better products, but be real careful you don't go backwards. I'm old school, Why should I change if I am having all the success I could ask for? I'm basically using the same line that I was using way before I was even started tournament fishing." Denny Brauer's "old-school" philosophy keeps on working for him.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.