2013 Bassmaster Classic Grand Lake O' the Cherokees - Tulsa, OK, Feb 22 - 24, 2013

Bassmaster Classic: February Madness

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Brandon Card

Brandon Card

Tennessee’s Brandon Card, who competed for the University of Kentucky, is the first Bassmaster College Series angler to qualify for the Elite Series.

Here’s one for you.  Think back to the last time you watched the Bassmasters Classic coverage and saw a guy lose a big fish and still go on to win?  I sure don’t remember it.  Perhaps you have been watching these vintage Classic shows on Bassmaster.com and saw it happen.  Maybe Ken Duke, Steve Bowman or Pete Robbins can tell you when and where but I don’t remember it.  You don’t lose fish and win the Classic – the competition is too tight.

Chris Lane – did you see him lose one last year?  Zero lost fish.  Alton Jones?  Boyd Duckett?  KVD?  Honestly have you ever seen KVD lose a key fish? 

You have to catch ‘em to win.  It is plain and simple.  The Classic only magnifies this.  We have three days to weigh in our best 15.  There is not much margin for error here.  The Elite Series is a little more forgiving but after looking back over last year I will say it is only slightly forgiving.

Let me make this point using another sports analogy.  I am a huge fan of college basketball and my alma mater Kentucky Wildcats.  No fan base analyzes its team like the state of Kentucky.  The Big Blue Nation is absolutely obsessed.  We overanalyze it all.  I remember one time we had lost a game against an SEC foe and the radio call-in show began.  Several callers lamented our free throw shooting.  We had shot something like 12 for 15.  That’s really not bad.  The problem was we only lost by a couple points.  Had we made all 15 we would have won.  That’s crazy right?  Welcome to the Bassmaster Classic.  You don’t miss a single free throw and win the Classic.  This is February Madness.

I do have one Elite Season of which to personally testify about the importance of landing fish at this level.  Over a season there were several key fish that had a huge impact on my season.  To illustrate, I went through each Elite event to see how lost fish affected my standings.  A couple of the events I fished clean and didn’t lose any fish.  In six of the events, though, I had fish on the line headed to the boat that for whatever reason didn’t end up in the Triton livewell – a 7-pounder at Toledo and a 5-plus-pounder at Douglas were the most obvious lost fish.  I recalculated where I conservatively could have placed higher in those six events and could have added between 75 and 95 points to the AOY standings.  That would have put me in the Top 10 and been a huge accomplishment in my mind.

You could say I missed a few free throws last year.  But, as we all know, you have to get to the free throw line in the first place.  I tell myself that to win an event I have to be around the right fish to win and then keep driving to the basket so to speak.

This is my first Bassmaster Classic.  I honestly have no idea what I am walking into.  I sort of wish it was like Hoosiers where Gene Hackman could measure the free throw line at 15 feet and the height of the basket at 10 feet.  I can see how that would make a team feel good.  Well, this is bass fishing.  It is not that simple.

Although Grand Lake looks like many of the lakes of East Tennessee, I still feel a little bit like the team from Hickory showing up and looking around in awe.

Dare to fail! 

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