Augusta's Tyrone Davis is a working model of optimism heading into the Unified Bass Club's end-of-the-season Classic on Alabama's Lake Neeley Henry next month.
He finished sixth out of 260 competitors in the Birmingham, Ala., trail's Angler of the Year race after winning on Strom Thurmond Lake, placing 10th and in the money on Lake Hartwell and 13th and in the money on Kerr Lake (a.k.a. Buggs Island Lake).
"I was in second place in the race going into the Louisiana tournament, but I wasn't able to go there."
He also placed 10th and in the money on the circuit's bonus tournament on Mississippi's Columbus Lake.
Davis' Top 20 finish allows him to compete against 19 others for a $35,000 Ranger bass boat or $30,000 in cash. He will be able to fish by himself.
"That's a real plus, not having to share the boat with another angler," said Davis, a Bullet bass boat owner who's shooting for the money prize and not the Ranger. "I've fished Neeley Henry (near Gadsden, Ala.) before and I think I have a good shot at winning."
The other 240-odd fishermen outside the top 20 will be paired as partners each day during the Sept. 14-15 event, Davis said.
The 40-year-old Davis is a 1978 graduate of Lucy Laney High where he played football side-by-side with former Wildcat stars Curtis Rouse and Chip Banks under coach David Dupree. He has been employed at the Savannah River Site for 22 years.
He is the father of former Richmond Academy basketball star Ty Shine, who now plays for Seton Hall University. He said his son is playing in a European basketball league this summer before college starts.
Davis either placed or "got good points" in the seven tournaments in which he competed plus the bonus tournament. The Thurmond Lake tournament was fog-delayed so that the anglers were able to fish only 4' hours.
Davis weighed in an 11-pound catch to win and collect $3,000.
The Augusta native founded the Triple Hook Bass Club which, at the time, was the only local tournament organization for black anglers. Now there's another -- Davis is president of the newly formed Prime Time Bassmasters.
He "credits the Lord" for his success this season.
His goal is to compete on the national professional circuits like the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society's or FLW Tour's tournament trails.
"That takes having major sponsors," said Davis, who is getting some help from Bobby Crawley at Southeastern Prop Repair and Master Barbers in Augusta.