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Blankenship And Malone To Compete In B.A.S.S. Team Championship

Mike Malone and Terry Blankenship are no strangers to bass fishing success. Over the past several years they have competed in and won multiple tournaments, including events held by Bass World Sports, Anglers in Action, Joe Bass, and many other charity and special events.

However, the past two weekends have been extra special for Mike and Terry. They finished 1st place in the Bass World Sports Winter Division tournament on October 12th with an impressive five-fish limit of 20.64 pounds and a big bass weighing in at 6.56 pounds. During this tournament, they concentrated their efforts on the area from Chimney Cove to the dam, targeting specific channel swing areas and brushpiles they had placed. They focused on depths in the 15-20 ft range, and utilized multiple lures, including the Crock-O-Gator ¾ oz Football Head Jig, and a Berkley 10-inch Power Worm.

Mike and Terry also qualified to fish the Joe Bass Classic scheduled for the weekend of October 18-19th at Lake of the Ozarks. On Friday evening, Oct 17th, 135 teams were present for the pre-tournament meeting and awards banquet, which was held at the Osage High School auditorium. During the meeting the team was presented with the prestigious “Ozarks Division Champions” award for their cumulative success during the qualifying season. There were six additional team winners from other regions, representing some of the best fishermen in the Midwest.

Prior to the tournament Malone was able to pre-fish several days in hopes of establishing patterns that might work during the tournament. His efforts were focused on the upper reaches of the Ozarks, between the 60 to 85 mile markers. While he reported catching several keepers, he knew their cumulative size would not be enough to be competitive in the upcoming two-day Classic. Based on that data the team made the decision to focus on the clearer water of the Ozarks. As it turns out that was a strategic decision that would prove to be critical in their success.

On Saturday October 18th, Day 1 of the Joe Bass Team Trail Invitational Classic, Mike and Terry focused on the same area of the lake they’d fished a week earlier, when they won the Bass World Sports Tournament on October 12th. Although their Day 1 weight of 12.20 lbs was not what they were hoping for, it did place them into 13th place, some 7 ½ lbs in back of the Day 1 Leaders. The team fished from the mouth of the Glaize to the Buck Creek area, and focused on key areas where they have brush placed in the 10-20 ft depth range. Their baits of choice included the Crock-O-Gator ¾ oz Football Head Jig, and a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm.

Based on the struggles of Day 1, the team opted on Day 2 to fish an entirely different area of the lake. Again they would be looking at structure in the 10-20 ft depth range. However one thing was somewhat different – the water color in the area they chose was slightly stained. As Day 2 began, it became apparent they had made a good decision to switch areas. They boated multiple keepers quickly and maintained that pace throughout the day, bringing a final weight of 20.70 lbs to the scales. The combination of their Day 1 weight (12.20 lbs) and their Day 2 weight (20.70 lbs) gave them a two day total of 32.90 lbs. Weighing in during the first flight, and with the early lead, they endured the next 30 minutes of the weigh in, as the remaining top teams above them made it to the scales. As the smoke cleared their early lead held up, securing them the win for the Joe Bass Classic Event.

In addition to winning over $6500 in cash, the team also qualified for the B.A.S.S. Team Championship, to be held on DeGray Lake, near Bismarck, Arkansas. The B.A.S.S Team Championship will include America’s most successful fishing teams competing for the national championship against anglers from all across the nation. In addition, following the team portion of the tournament, the top three teams will be split up and compete solo in their own boat for a chance to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. As many as 200 top teams will compete in the championship from sanctioned tournament trails nationwide.

Mike and Terry have been fishing partners for over four years. Terry grew up on his family’s farm located on the upper reaches of the Glaize Arm of the lake, and has fished the Ozarks most of his life. In addition to being an accomplished bass angler, Terry is also recognized as one of the elite crappie guides in the Midwest.

Mike has been fishing the lake for over 25 years, participating in many bass tournaments during that time span. Recently retired from the financial world, his focus is now on fishing, with a little golf thrown in for fun.

When asked what makes their team so successful, Mike said, “We have uniquely different fishing styles, which makes us a threat to catch them under many different fishing conditions. I like to power fish and Terry is an excellent deep-structure fisherman. Normally one of us will be catching them, which is critical to being successful.”

Additionally Mike cited Terry’s expertise with the Humminbird electronics, and stressed how important those technology tools have been to their success. “There is no doubt Terry has helped me become a better fisherman,” Mike said. “His knowledge of the Humminbird technology we each have on our boats gives us an advantage over many anglers.”

Lastly the team stressed that they put in their time setting brushpiles and constantly looking for new areas to fish. Over the past few months they estimate they have sunk over 100 new brushpiles, in multiple areas of the lake. While this is hard work they believe their efforts are well worth it. Judging from their tournament results over the last two weekends it would be hard to argue with them!

The Lake of the Ozarks community and anglers can be very proud of these two locals. Stay tuned and cheer on Mike and Terry on their road to the Bassmasters Classic.

Terry Blankenship is sponsored by Phoenix Boats, Mercury Marine, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Crock-O-Gator, Gene Larew, Bobby Garland, Vicious Fishing Line, and Lew’s.

Mike Malone is sponsored by Yamaha, Skeeter Boats, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Daiwa, War Eagle Baits, and Crock-O-Gator.

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