I’m disappointed that I couldn’t make it three Classic wins in a row, but that doesn’t diminish how I feel about the great tournament we had last week in Shreveport.
I had the game plan to win, but some variables I couldn’t control got the best of me.
No excuses, though, as the anglers who finished ahead of me got the job done. I’m happy for winner Chris Lane, a great guy who will represent the sport well.
My problem was that the good areas I found were so far apart and required a gamble, plus I didn’t anticipate the crazy water fluctuation we encountered from one pool to another. When I locked through, the area I planned to fish had changed drastically from what it was at the launch and different from the forecasts we received about pool levels.
To compound that, the morning bite (after cool nights) was a lot different than it was during the afternoon. You had to time your moves accordingly AND play the water levels.
But moving around wasn’t easy.
I had to do a lot scrambling and sacrificed fishing time getting to my spots. It not only takes awhile to lock through on the Red River, but it takes time to idle through stumps and timber to get into the far reaches of areas I was fishing. The bass were extremely shallow, so you had to get to the back areas to catch fish. When the water dropped, it pulled a lot of water out of those back areas, and we didn’t know what we’d encounter until we got there.
I had my chances, though. On the first morning, I hit a cut near the ramp before locking through and I lost a 5-pounder and a 3 1/2-pounder the first hour. In the two previous Classics that I won, I never lost a quality fish. Had I landed those fish, I might have been more inclined to stay and who knows how that might have affected the outcome. But I only boated one small fish and felt I had to make the run.
It didn’t pan out and I had to dig myself out of a hole after that first day.
But that’s fishing and what makes the Classic so exciting. I didn’t win, but I took great pride in handing the champion’s trophy to Chris at the end. It’s a special moment; the coliseum was full of electricity and everyone in the stands felt it, too.
The fans were something else. They packed the take-off each morning and the weigh-ins during afternoons. The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Show presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods was jammed, and everyone from the media to the anglers to the exhibitors were enthusiastic. Our industry has endured a lot in recent years, so it was great to see such positive results from an awesome Classic weekend in Shreveport.
It’s back to work now, as I participate in Bass Pro Shops’ Spring Fishing Classic held at all of the retail outlets around the country this weekend. I will appear at the Gurney, Ill., store from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight and at the Portage, Ind., store Saturday from Noon to 5 p.m.
Visit BassPro.com to see which pros will be appearing nearest you this weekend.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!