Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 10/02/2013

Story and photos by Matt Pangrac

Conroe, TX – Almost one year ago to the day, Bryan Thrift pulled off one of the most impressive comebacks in recent professional tournament fishing history at the 2012 Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Conroe.

The North Carolina pro started the final day of the 2012 TTBC competition facing a deficit of nearly 5-pounds, but he finished the day over 9-pounds ahead of 2nd place finisher, Brian Snowden.  The victory was the sixth of Thrift’s professional career.  With the TTBC field featuring the top 15 anglers from the FLW Tour, top 15 anglers from the Bassmaster Elite Series, and top 15 anglers from the PAA Tournament Series, the win held special meaning for Thrift.  

“This tournament is truly a championship event,” he stated after the final round in 2012.  “You’re fishing against the top professional bass fishermen over the course of the year, so it’s a stacked field.”  

Fast-forward 367 days, and it’s obvious that Thrift has continued to pad his impressive stats.  In 2013, he had back-to-back 2nd place finishes at the FLW Tour stops on Lake Eufaula and Grand Lake, and also added another top 10 finish at the season opener on Okeechobee.   He finished in 5th place in the Angler Of the Year race and earned just shy of $100,000.   

At the Forrest Wood Cup in August on the Red River, Thrift turned in another strong performance, finishing in 3rd place for the second time in as many years and pocketing another $60,000 in earnings. 

Incredibly, Thrift’s 2013 season was an “average” season for him when compared to the past six years.  

He finished inside the top 10 in the FLW Tour AOY standings for the sixth consecutive year and finished in 5th place in the final AOY standings for the third time in the past six years.  

He broke the $100,000 earnings mark for the fourth consecutive year. 

He recorded a Top 10 finish at the Forrest Wood Cup for the fourth time in the past six years.  

The only thing that has eluded Thrift in 2013 is a victory.  Preceding his 2012 TTBC victory, Thrift won a FLW Tour Major on Beaver Lake in 2011 and a Tour Major on Lake Norman in 2010.  If Thrift is to extend his three year winning streak in 2013, he’ll have to do it this week on Lake Conroe by defending his TTBC title.  

“I was definitely happy with how my overall season has gone.  I did have a couple of hiccups and a couple of tournaments that I didn’t do very well in, though,” explained Thrift, referring to his 58th place finish in the Tour Major on Beaver Lake and his 63rd place finish at the season finale on Chickamauga.  “I guess they really weren’t bombs, but I would have liked to have stayed at least in the top 50 in those tournaments and remained within check range.”

The impressive thing about Thrift’s consistency over the past half-decade is the fact that he has excelled on a variety of fisheries across the country using a number of techniques.   “It’s hard to put a finger on one particular style or type of fishing that has led to my consistency, because there has been pre-spawn tournaments, bed fishing tournaments, tournaments where I fished deep, and tournaments where the fish were in between.  I can’t really narrow it down to one particular style or one particular bait that I have relied on in recent years," he stated.     

During the 2013 season, Thrift recorded a 7th place finish sight fishing on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee,  a 2nd place finish targeting offshore structure on Lake Eufaula, and a 2nd place finish throwing a square-bill crankbait on Grand Lake.    

At the Forrest Wood Cup on the Red River this past August, Thrift finished in 3rd place by targeting shallow water brush piles and standing timber with a shaky head and mixing it up with a variety of moving baits in other loations.  Going back to his TTBC victory in 2012, a good portion of his weight came on a buzzbait.  

Over the past calendar year, Thrift has recorded top 10 finishes sight fishing, square-billing, structure fishing, junk fishing, and finesse fishing. 

Entering the 2013 TTBC, he’s looking to defend his title by any means necessary.  “Anytime that I can end the year with a big check, I’m happy.  You kind of cover your expenses and make a little bit of money during the season, but you have to make your real money in the championships,” he explained. 

“I really like Lake Conroe a lot,” said Thrift. “It’s a hard lake to pattern and that’s why I like it.  It seems like a ‘run and gun’ style of lake where the bites are random.  You can catch one early on a topwater, then go catch one off a dock, then go catch one offshore, and then go catch one on a brush pile.  It really sets up well for a guy like me who isn’t afraid to mix things up.”