Flawless execution

Jerry McKinnis

I was talking to Gary Klein the other day about something that might sound pretty obvious. Then again maybe you wouldn't even give this a thought.

Gary is of course one of the all-time great bass anglers and is getting himself ready for his 29th Bassmaster Classic. He was talking about how the winner of this event would be the one who not only knew where some fish were, but could execute flawlessly for three straight days, and bring them to the weigh-in. I told you it sounded obvious.

OK, so you're watching a bass weigh-in and one angler comes across the stage with a big batch of fish. You think, man this guy is really good. Next angler up has three fish that weigh 7 pounds. You think man, this guy can't cut it.

Truth be known, both guys could catch fish and both had found fish. One's equipment, from rod and reel, to outboard and trolling motor, worked flawlessly and his trip to and from his fishing spots went smoothly. Plus he used his time correctly.

The seven-pound angler couldn't say any of that.

My point is, there's a lot more to competing successfully as a professional bass fisherman than you think.

Every Elite angler can catch a bass, but the little things can be what separates even the best, and all these points double and triple when you're talking about the Bassmaster Classic. In fact, the importance of executing the little things becomes a big thing. Really big.

Back to Gary Klein. Gary seems confident that he has the right fish located to win the Super Bowl. If he has the right plan to get to them, overcome the weather and get back on time, he's your Bassmaster Classic champion. No problem.

Hold on my friend, not so fast. Let's put together a make-believe day for Gary and make a list of things that must go right for him to succeed.

• Up at 4:30 a.m., walking to truck with fishing license in billfold, and insurance papers in boat glove box.

• Double checks trailer hitch, and hooks up boat. Makes sure gas and oil tanks are full and batteries are all up.

• Launches at 5:30, picks up observer and checks in with officials. Clears livewell, kill switch, and life preserver.

• Takes off at 7 a.m., and runs for three hours to an area where his fish are. (Remember this is all make believe -- I have no idea where or how far Gary will really go).

• He'll be fishing in a series of small canals. Actual fishing time will be 2 hours, and he must be back at 3:30 p.m.

• His trolling motor must be hot enough to last all day and he has an extra prop for it.

• Gary has six rods and reels on his deck, all fully spooled with line, but will use only one during this day.

• Gary hangs up four times during his fishing time but doesn't lose a lures.

• He has zero backlashes.

• Never cranks the big engine again until he leaves for his trip back, and runs the trolling almost constantly.

• Has 12 bites, hooks eight fish, lands all eight and culls to his limit at noon.

• Cranks big engine and runs 10 minutes to marina where he fills up all gas tanks.

• Leaves for check-in ramp at 12:30, and gets in at 3:15 -- 15 minutes early.

Now, if any one thing that I have hit on fails -- any one -- Gary is dead on the vine.

If the weather makes the slightest change and he hasn't allowed for it, his plan blows up.

If all this works out, and his decisions are perfect, then all he has to do is repeat this two more days.

Whoever does that probably becomes your Bassmaster Classic champion.

No problem. 

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