2010 Bassmaster Classic Lay Lake - Birmingham, AL, Feb 19 - 21, 2010

My Classic practice

The Jones Clan is in Alabama now, and we're getting settled in for the Classic. I'm making final preparations for practice, which starts today, and they're a little different this year.

There's a snowstorm that's supposed to hit here. I've put all my rods on top of the deck because if we get some snow and it melts a little bit then freezes again, your lockers can be frozen shut, and no one wants to deal with that. I'm putting some things in the boat that I normally don't, such as de-icer and ice scrapers just to keep all my engine controls, electronics, Hot Foot and other things ice-free.

You've also got to throw some extra gloves in there. I've learned that when you go fishing in the snow, just dress like you're going snow-skiing then add one more layer. This cold will add another element of mental toughness for practice. I say that because mentally preparing is going to be tough given the conditions. Even though it's going to be miserable, there are going to be a lot of important things to learn out there, even in the midst of bad weather.

You've got to prepare for the bad weather and play through it. Everything that I can do beforehand to prevent slip-ups in practice I'm doing today in the name of efficiency. That way I can focus on fishing. I'm preparing for a wintertime event, and believe it or not, this is kind of what I was hoping for. I know if it were to warm up, everybody would catch 'em. But the way the weather has been all winter means this is going to be an extremely tough tournament.

I feel certain weights will be down from the 2007 Lay Lake Classic. I think a honey hole scenario may play out here, where the tournament can be won from just one spot. Bass aren't hard to catch when it's this cold, they're just hard to find. In this case, I'm going to be looking for prime wintering spots where they may be wadded up. It's like looking for a pile of needles in a haystack, but when you find 'em, all the needles will be in one pile. Most folks would be surprised how many fish you can fit into an area the size of a family car. It sort of reminds me of the Lake Hartwell Classic from two years ago. I found something just like that.

On another note, late last week I was invited to participate in the Heart of Texas Celebrity Cook-Off in Waco. It's a bigger deal than I was anticipating. There were 44 entries, and 28 of those were either professional chefs or restaurants from our area. Stiff competition, for sure. Well guess what? We won! I admit that a lot of those guys that were in the contest are much better chefs than I am, but I do have a couple of things that I think are pretty good. I made my Texas White Wings. It's bacon-wrapped chicken with a jalapeno and mozzarella cheese inside the chicken. However, the secret is in my marinating sauce. I call it Skeeter Sauce. I'd love for everyone to be able to enjoy this recipe, but if I told you what was in the Skeeter Sauce... well, you know.

Last time we talked about Little Alton fishing tournaments on his own. It was on Lake Belton in Texas. The water is colder than it has ever been, and it came up 11 feet during the off-limits period. The conditions were about as bad as you could get. He fished hard, and talking to him after the event, I don't think there was anything he did wrong. It was just brutal. As much as he doesn't want me to say it, I have to: He zeroed. However, my very first bass tournament ever with the Waco Bass Club was on the same lake, and guess what? I also zeroed! I can absolutely relate to a tournament on Lake Belton. Like father, like son, I suppose.

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