Boat: 2017 Puma FTD
If team partners Robert Robbins and Dave Wolf had a dispute over whose boat to bring to the Bass Cat National Team Championship, it really wouldn’t have mattered who won the coin toss. They both own 2017 Puma FTDs. Robbins said that he’s had “seven or eight” and Wolf reported that he bought his first Cat in 1990 and has purchased a new one every year but two or three since then. His last four or five boats have been Pumas, and both anglers said that they appreciate the voluminous storage and the easy net access that the Puma provides. They had ample need for the net during the Team Championship, as they bounced back from a troubling first round blank at Table Rock to catch a tournament-best 10.71 pound limit at Taneycomo. The ended the five-round grind in third place, a little more than five pounds behind the winners.
“This tournament is something that I’m really glad that I did,” Robbins said. “Very few people will ever have that chance, and no one can ever take it away from me. It was grueling. You didn’t have time to think about the next lake. You had to fish by the seat of your pants and our biggest mistake was not realizing that until it was too late.”
At Table Rock, they tried to catch a kicker first, figuring they could fill out a limit later, but time got the best of them. They reversed that strategy on Taneycomo, looking for any sized keepers they could find and only then hunting down a big fish, and it worked like a charm.
“The first lake was the killer for us,” Robbins explained. “We didn’t realize how fast three hours goes.”
“We should have concentrated more on Table Rock,” Wolf added. “We kind of went in with a chip on our shoulder because we’d finished 1st and 4th in tournaments there in the last three weeks. I’ve fished Taneycomo and Bull Shoals quite a bit, and I grew up on the upper end of Bull Shoals. We probably had a little bit of advantage on Taneycomo. A lot of people don’t even realize it’s a bass lake.”
They did their greatest damage on Taneycomo in the grass, relying on a chatterbait to amass a limit, and then switching to a ½ ounce War Eagle spinnerbait to upgrade. They used that same spinnerbait at Bull Shoals – this time along bluff banks – to land a pair of largemouths and a small Kentucky, but another blank at Norfork saddled them with third place. Despite the closing round struggles, the pair didn’t regret their strategy.
“We knew that we were behind going into Norfork,” Robbins said. “We could’ve caught some 12 inch Kentuckies, but we had to play catch up, so we went out with a topwater and a spinnerbait looking for bigger fish.” They intend to be back next year, better attuned to the intricacies of this marathon struggle, and fully expecting Rick Pierce to throw a new set of curveballs at the field.
The one thing that didn’t surprise them was the company’s attention to its customers. “I’ve know Rick for 30 years,” Wolf said. “A lot of the other teams were amazed that he picked people up at the airport and gave them all of that attention. The other teams went on and on about how great he treated them. I just knew that that’s how he does things.”