ONALASKA, Wis. -

Todd Faircloth, who won the inaugural Mississippi River Rumble in June 2012, is back to defend his title.

Faircloth, who appeared at the Gander Mountain store in Onalaska Sunday, led last year's tournament by just seven ounces heading into the final day of competition. He sealed the win with a last minute catch.

The 37-year old Texan is confident in his chances to repeat. He said the upper Mississippi's conditions play to his strengths; the water is grassy, like the lakes near his home. But that's not the main reason La Crosse has become one of his favorite stops.

"Last year, this was one of the biggest crowds we had at any of our events, and the people were excited about us being here," Faircloth said. "It's always exciting to come to an area and place where people welcome you, and the fishing is good, as well."

The Bassmaster Elite Series' Mississippi River Rumble begins Thursday at Veterans Freedom Park. For more information, click here.