Editor's note: Alan McGuckin of Dynamic Sponsorships is in northern New York this week for the resumption of the Elite Series schedule at the St. Lawrence River. He passed along this short feature about North Carolina angler Shane Lineberger.
Elite Series competitor Shane Lineberger had a really bad taste in his mouth the last time he competed at the St. Lawrence in 2017.
Lineberger vividly remembers buying a Gatorade and a pack of Pop Tarts on the way to the boat ramp and then launching his boat to begin the first day of practice. It wasn't long until he started to feel terribly sick to his stomach soon. He returned to his hotel and never to make another cast in practice, and instead spent the next three days kneeling with his face in the toilet.
“I called my wife and told her the tournament was probably going to be a disaster," Lineberger recalled this week as he prepared to take another swing at the St. Lawrence. "I had never seen this place, and got zero practice thanks to possibly the worst stomach bug of my life."
Lineberger’s predictions to his wife, Hope, were on point. He finished second to last and fell out of the race for a Bassmaster Classic berth. Worst of all, it bumped him below the requalification line for the 2018 Elite Series. Perseverance has paid off, though, for the former factory worker who made bearings for 18 years. Lineberger not only returned to the Elite Series – he competed on the FLW Tour in 2018 – but now sits within easy range of qualifying for the 2020 Classic.
Three official days of practice this week treated him reasonably well, not that it would take much to upgrade from his three days next to the flusher at the Super 8 two years ago, but really, he feels good and he’s getting dialed in.
He’ll lean on the standard offering of bottom-bouncing lures like nearly every angler in the field, but he’ll also toss in some shallow-running power lures like the 3-bladed compact spinnerbait he spent two years designing for True South Custom Lures, and also a 5-inch Skinny Dipper swimbait.
“Both of these lures offer a totally different look than what most everybody will be throwing," he said. "If it’s cloudy, I’ll burn the little three bladed spinnerbait in the riffles just under the surface, but if it’s sunny, the Skinny Dipper is a great choice for burning just a little deeper in those same riffles."
The riffles he’s referring to are much like a trout angler would target in streams far smaller than the massive St. Lawrence, but the concept is the same. Natural islands splice swift current, and in turn, riffles are formed to carry bait past ambush points where fat smallmouth lay waiting to pounce.
For Lineberger, this week offers a chance to pounce, too. It’s a chance to get back all that was lost to a highly unfortunate, career altering stomach bug two years ago.