It won’t be long and we’ll know what we’re going to be facing in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. That’s the thing about rivers. You never know for sure what you’re going to see until you’re there and you launch your boat. Weather conditions (rain) hundreds of miles away can make a world of difference. That keeps things interesting.
If you’re going to be a knowledgeable fan with the ability to understand things beyond the standings, that’s the first thing you should be thinking about. The water level, and its clarity, will control basically everything we do as professional anglers.
In a general sense, we could be looking at three basic conditions — high and muddy, low and clear or somewhere in between those two extremes. Let’s look at high and muddy first. That’s what very few of us want to see. It’s nasty, and it’s a possibility.
If that happens, look for a needle in a haystack type of tournament. Guys who know how to research old maps and use Google Earth are the ones to watch. They’ll find little backwater places off the beaten path that are running clear and holding feeding bass. They’re also the ones who’ll be fishing out of small boats. This will not be an equal event or be wide open by any means. You’ll know real quick who’s in the hunt and who isn’t.
Another condition that’ll be tough is if the water’s low and clear. That’s extremely unlikely in February but it could happen. If it does, it’ll open up some water but close off others because we won’t be able to run the way we’d like. And it may not help the catch rates or the weights. The Red River is shallow. That’s a tough situation when the water’s clear. That makes it any man’s game with the results being unpredictable.
The most likely condition is what we saw in 2009, water levels slightly elevated with the backwaters clear and the main river somewhat muddy. That makes for a real contest. We’ll be able to run pretty much anywhere we want and find plenty of places to fish. That translates into a contest of skill.
We’ll be able to put together patterns as well as spots and manage our fish like professional anglers are supposed to do. As a fan, you’ll be able to watch how the guys are fishing and watch their weights — we’ll talk more about that in a couple of weeks — to get a handle on the tournament.
As you might imagine, I want what we had in 2009. But, if I don’t get it, I’ll fish whatever is there. I’ve often said that any angler who qualifies for a Classic can fish, and they can win. That’s includes me, no matter the conditions. I’ll fish hard every minute I’m out there.
Next time we’ll talk about the practice period. It’s the most important part of getting ready. It sets the tone for everything we do after that. Knowledgeable fans watch it closely.