By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Narrow misses have become a habit for Greg Vinson. It's a good thing the big, easy-going redhead is an upbeat person by nature or he might start to think he's somehow been jinxed.
He was the first angler out of this year's Bassmaster Classic on the 2018 Elite Series points list. Then he made it to the final day of the Classic Bracket derby, only to fall just shy again. On Thursday, he was eliminated from the inaugural MLF Bass Pro Tour event at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes when Jordan Lee caught a 2 3/4-pound fish in the final minute to drop Vinson from 20th place to 21st in Group A, which consisted of 40 anglers.
"I'm just going to say look out because it's going to turn around," he said. "Something good is going to happen soon."
He was one of several anglers in contention for the group's final spot in Saturday's knockout round when the last hour of the final period began and he was feeling pretty good when he boated a 3 1/4-pounder with less than 30 minutes to go. He felt even better 20 minutes later when he added a smaller keeper.
Lee claimed the berth, though, by catching nearly 13 pounds in the last 40 minutes. The two-time reigning Classic champion logged his final fish, a 2 3/4-pounder, at 3:29 – just a minute before the lines-out call.
"The (3 1/4-pounder) was huge at that moment, with it being 45 minutes from the end of the day and me and about six other people all within a pound or so," Vinson said. "I was thinking that could do it, and I felt like I had a really good shot when I caught the other fish with less than 10 minutes to go.
"It was down to just a few people and unfortunately one of those was Jordan Lee. He literally bumped me at the last second."
Vinson's focus was primarily on offshore grass. He caught seven fish for 11-13 on the day – three in the opening period (including one in the last minute), two in the second period and two in the final stanza. Six were enticed by a jerkbait and he caught one on a finesse worm.
He'd handled 12 fish for 18-13 on his first day of competition on Tuesday, which left him in 13th place in the group.
"I had one general areas that was pretty good to me and had me in contention, but I sort of sensed today that it was drying up for both me and Brandon Coulter," he said. "I ran some other stuff and caught a fish here and there, but I didn't find anything that was worth spending a lot of time on. Then I went back to that area late in the day and it proved to be a good move, but I just came up a little bit short."
It was his first experience with MLF-style fishing and he enjoyed the experience despite the disappointing outcome.
"There's some pressure, but I feel like that's one of my strengths," he said. "Even back when I was playing ball (he's a former collegiate baseball player), performing under pressure was one of the things I always prided myself on. The leaderboard's always changing and you hear the score, and the guys you were battling it out with an hour ago aren't the same guys you're battling 30 minutes later.
"The bottom line is you have to stay on fish and keep putting them in the boat. Having dry spells that are too long gets you in trouble. But I'm excited about the whole thing overall – I think it's going to be big."
If he could do anything over again, he'd have spent some more time in shallower water.
"I convinced myself that I was comfortable fishing the grass in the deepest part of the bay, but with the number of fish that disappeared, they had to go somewhere. From talking to some other guys after the day was over and finding out how they caught fish, I realized there were a lot on those inside lanes and that bite is set to explode at any minute.
"There's no doubt that a bunch of males and even a few females went in that direction. I could've helped myself by moving to that inside area."