Youngers Wrote the Book on Bassmaster Classic Waters

Inside BASS

If he was so inclined, Charlie Youngers could probably make a mint marketing his angling knowledge to the contenders in the upcoming CITGO Bassmaster Classic slated for Feb. 24-26 on Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

That’s because the veteran Central Florida pro wrote the book on those waters.

Since 1978, Youngers, a past Classic qualifier, has kept a detailed logbook on each and every trip he makes on the chain. That information — specifically the seasonal patterns it brings into focus — enables him to consistently locate and catch bass throughout the year. Year after year.

“Who told you about that?” said Youngers, 53, of Oviedo, Fla., who will be competing on the new CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series. “Not too many people know about it. And no one has ever looked at it except for me. I don’t show it to anybody. I think my wife may have looked at it a time or two. But it stays real close to me.”

Youngers has fished Toho and the Kissimmee Chain regularly since age 15 in the mid-1960s. And after each trip he has entered vital information about the weather conditions and bass location into a Jimmy Houston-produced logbook that he bought more than 20 years ago.

“I started keeping a log because I knew there was going to be a time — and, quite frankly, it’s here — when I could no longer remember everything like I could when I was younger,” Youngers admitted. “So I started writing everything down.”

“I go back and refer to it quite a bit. It’s amazing how accurate it is,” he said. “I still fish with the Tuscawilla Bassmaster club, and they’ll ask me why I’m not pre-fishing for a tournament. I’ll say, ‘Well, I won a tournament there in 1972. And the fish were in this area in February of 1972.’

“It’s very easy to pattern fish that way by just going back and referring to your notes. It’s amazing that even with the lake changing and having hydrilla coming in and then being killed off and other changes, wherever those fish migrate to in February — or whatever month it is — you can go back there the same time 10 years from now and the fish will be there.”

Unfortunately, his logbook won’t be any help to Youngers during the 36th annual Classic as he didn’t qualify.

“I’m mad as hell that I’m not fishing this Classic,” he said. “I hurt my back last year and just had a real bad year on the Tour. I wish I could be down there fishing with them.

“I am terribly disappointed that I’m not in this Classic. I’m going to work the Classic for a couple of sponsors, but I’m going to try to stay busy to keep from being so mad.”

LOCAL FAVORITE. Like Youngers, Bobby Lane considers the Kissimmee Chain to be his home lakes. Unlike Youngers, he still has a chance to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic on his home waters.

Lane, who is sponsored by Berkley, is one of the favorites entering this week’s BASS Federation National Championship on Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes. He is the lone Florida angler in the amateur championship event.

But Lane could hardly be considered an amateur. In 2005, he won more than $100,000 on a national tournament circuit.

“Just to make the Bassmaster Classic would be a dream and to have it on my month on my home lake would be even more outstanding for me,” Lane said. “I don’t even care where I end up in the (Federation Championship) as long as I beat the guys in my division.”

The top angler from the six Federation divisions earns a ticket to the Bassmaster Classic.

COMING ATTRACTIONS? A few months ago, 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle caught a bass estimated at 11½ pounds from Lake Amistad, site of the March season opener of the new Elite Series. As it turns out, that’s far from the biggest bass that swims in the remote waters located on the Texas-Mexico border.

On Dec. 28, Tom Sutherland of Del Rio, Texas, caught a trophy that weighed 15 pounds, 11 ounces on a Norman DD22 crankbait. It is the largest entry in the Texas Budweiser ShareLunker program since 2002.

NAME CHANGE. Even before they aired, two parts of the BASS Saturday programming block have undergone a name change. BASS Pass is the new name of the segment originally called Inside BASS. And BASS Magazine has been renamed Inside BASS.

Both programs will air on ESPN2.

WEIRDEST CATCH. Not long after moving to Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, Steve Daniel was throwing a lipless crankbait when he hung a fishing line.

“On one end of the line was somebody’s shiner rod and reel,” the Elite Series pro said. “On the other end was a 4-pound largemouth and he was still alive. I guess the bass jerked somebody’s rod out of the boat when they weren’t watching.”

DID YOU KNOW? Nine Classics have been won by less than a pound: Dion Hibdon took the 1997 crown with a winning margin of just 1 ounce; it was but 2 ounces when Hank Parker triumphed in 1989; 3 ounces, Ken Cook, 1991; 4 ounces, Bryan Kerchal, 1994; 6 ounces, Guido Hibdon, 1988; 6 ounces, Kevin VanDam, 2005; 10 ounces, Larry Nixon, 1983; 13 ounces, Charlie Reed, 1986; 15 ounces, Stanley Mitchell, 1981.

IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Elite Series pro Terry Butcher of Oklahoma would likely be spending most days working in an oil field. “I do some of that still,” he said. “I have work-over rigs. We change pumps and stuff out on oil and gas wells. I’d rather be fishing.”

THEY SAID IT. “Probably just realizing that I’ve been able to do what I dreamed about doing when I was a kid. Very few people get to do that. Just realizing how fortunate I am to love what I do for a living. There are a lot of things like the travel that are involved in being a full-time fisherman that aren’t so wonderful at times. But, all in all, basically my job is fishing and that is what I love to do so much. And what I dreamed of doing. It’s just unbelievable to be able to say when I was 12 years old I dreamed of fishing for a living and now I’m actually doing it.” - Former CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Davy Hite was asked to name the most satisfying aspect of his career.

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