Illinois tournament angler Allen Williford eats, lives and sleeps the water world. When he is not fishing, he is building boats for Crownline Boats, a progressive boat company using innovative design philosophies to set themselves apart in the building of high quality boats. Allen recently won the Illinois State Bass Fishing Championship on Lake of Egypt, part of Bassmasters' BASSNation qualification process. Our Kevin Carwile caught up with Allen to get his insights into that tournament and his fishing future.
iBass360: Tell us about where you fished for the championship. What patterns were you fishing and what were the conditions out on the water?
Allen: I was fishing on Lake of Egypt reservoir, and I have to say the conditions were different from prior years when U had fished that lake. There was unseasonable cooling temps and the lake's power plant had been shut off a month prior to the tournament. The water temperature was 67° all around the lake
iBass360: What were your thoughts on patterns going into the tournament?
Allen: I expected a typical transition into fall patterns. I thought it would be a time to catch them deeper, but the only fish I could find were shallow. I had three banks where I wanted to focus. My shallow patterns were to flip a green pumpkin tube with a half ounce weight and alternate to a 1 oz weight to punch through the thicker stuff. The water was clear and if they were shallow, I knew the fish would be back up in the grass
iBass360: How did the conditions affect that strategy for the tourney? How did you adapt or were you able to use your original plan of action?
Allen: After a tough first day I was leading but I was really nervous going into the second day because I knew the guys in back of me only had to catch a couple nice fish to pass me. I had no expectations of keeping my lead. By the time I weighed in, the pressure was tough because I could see who was on top of the leaderboard. Usually on Egypt I'd have nice bags but this time the fishing was tough. As I said, the plan for a deep bite didn't work out, so I ended up shallow
alternating the half ounce green pumpkin tube and a one ounce beaver. I ended up catching a limit and, to my surprise, it actually was enough to maintain the lead.
iBass360: Sounds like you had a well thought out primary and back-up plan. How do you typically prepare for tournaments?
Allen: As for preparing for tournaments, I keep a checklist of things on the boat to make sure everything is mechanically working right. I have a similar checklist for my rods and reels and baits. I try to control as much as I can because you know things can get out of your control quickly on the day of the tournament. I really try to keep a positive mental mindset. When things get tough that can be a huge advantage.
iBass360: How long have you been tournament fishing? What do you like most and what could you do without?
Allen: I've been fishing tournaments since I was 18- that was1998. What I love about tournaments is the competitive side of it. I can't really think of any dislikes.
iBass360: Now that you've won the state championship what's next? What are your goals?
Allen: My goals for next year are to fish the Bassmaster Open series events and fish the Regionals for the BASSNation and try to qualify for the National event. I also have goals related to youth angling. One thing I would like to see improved is industry commitment to the younger generation- especially those in high school that don't have someone with a boat, kids just want to learn and need the fishing equipment to get started. I try to mentor high school anglers whenever I get the chance and hope to do more of it.