At least two anglers are Iked up for the Classic.
One is Mike Iaconelli, who by name, and disposition, is naturally Iked Up.
The other is Fletcher Shryock, who shares a similar passion for bass fishing as Ike. Yet Shryock, the former dirt bike racer who burst onto the scene with his Open victory, is getting Iked Up in another fashion.
In a Facebook post today, Shryock appears to have a can of Ike’s energy drink on the deck of his boat. It’s still dark, so Shryock seems to be preparing for the first day of Classic practice on the Red River with some Never Give Up juice. The post with the photo reads:
“If you're showing up to the Bassmaster Classic... get Iked Up with a energy drink!!”
The can actually has Never Give Up Get Iked Up! on the side, along with Ike’s signature. Digging into Iked Up, a Google searcher at first gets a bunch of tattoo sites. (No, it wasn’t mistyped as inked.)
Further digging finds how you can buy it for $2 a can on a site where Ike was promoting Hatcams. Yet another search drew some interest when Skeet & Ike’s popped up. Wow, when did Reese and Iaconelli team up?
Wait, it’s a site for organic snack foods. Wait again, some guy is nicknamed Skeet with a dog named Ike. What are the odds?
Shryock must have found the Iked Up at Shreveport-Bossier City store, or maybe he teamed up with Ike and bought a case before heading down from Newcomerstown, Ohio. Either way, it’s mildly amusing.
While this was Facebook reporting 101, which seems to be trending, we hope to get in touch with some Classic competitors tonight once they get off the water and bring you updates throughout the weekend, so stay tuned.
Jake Szot thinks he knows something about bass fishing.
He should. Szot is a member of Texas Tech's College B.A.S.S. team.
But the question remains does he know anything about picking a Fantasy Fishing team. He better hope so.
Szot has thrown down a challenge to all college fishing teams to get their teams signed up for Fantasy Fishing and compete against each other. He's telling them how to do it and even offered to keep scores. To see his post, click here.
To get signed up -- and read up on how pundits are expecting the Classic to go down -- click here.
Day in and day out, Tom Jessop roams the wide open range, checking the cows he has just bought or is about to deliver to a new owner.
“I play cowboy a lot,” said Jessop, a cattle buyer in Dalhart, Texas. “My lifestyle is great!”
But Jessop is switching gears today, when he heads out on the Red River for the first unofficial practice day for 2012 Bassmaster Classic competitors. This Classic is something he’s been working toward for a long time.
“I’ve been on the state team that was sent to divisionals 13 times, and I’ve made it to the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship four times,” Jessop said. “I’m finally here, and for me, it’s about winning. Nobody remembers who comes in second or third.”
To win any tournament, Jessop said, it comes down to these three things: making a solid effort, knowing what to expect and being able to adapt. “I learned a long time ago that you’ve got to work hard at this. Practice pays off, and having a sense of what size fish will win the tournament will help you make better decisions.”
Jessop is looking forward to getting out on the Red River today to see how clear the water is, how high it is and what the shad are doing. “I was afraid the water might be cold and we might have bad weather, but it looks like it might warm up and be a great tournament.”
Jessop’s wife and business partner, Jodie, is in Shreveport-Bossier City with him now, pacing the floor until she finds out how he did each day. She’s been very supportive of his pursuit of the black bass, said Jessop, adding: “She’s a keeper!”
The Red River has been drifting along for 10 years, whittling down its trees and morphing its shape. Chris Price has also been on a journey of change for the same 10 years. Next week, the two shall meet again.
Price fished the Red in April 2002, when he took the runner-up spot in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship and won a berth to the 2002 Bassmaster Classic, where he placed 29th.
Price became a father after that Classic and focused more on family than on fishing for many years.
But now he’s back, and the Red River lies in wait for his arrival. In 2002, Price plucked 42 pounds, 12 ounces from the water. Now, he estimates it will take 60 pounds to win.
“Anyone catching 20 a day will be feeling pretty strong,” said Price, who spent two rainy weeks in December 2011 pre-fishing the Red. “It has changed a lot in 10 years. The trees have rotted down, so it looks a lot different. And I’ve spent a lot of time just learning the new shape of the river.
“I’ve got a couple of places that I think will be good,” he continued. “But it’s going to come down to pressure. There’s only 49 of us, but it will fish small, and some areas will be crowded. If I can get away from the other fisherman, I’ll be good.”
Price’s son, Eric, 9, and daughter, Ava, 4, are excited about their first trip by airplane from their home in Maryland. “They’ve been wound up for the last month!” They will arrive with his wife next week.
Price said he’s slightly nervous, but because he’s fished the Classic before, he knows what to expect. Plus, he has his roommate, Jamie Horton, along on a similar journey. Horton was his roommate 10 years ago, when the pair fished the Classic together after outperforming their competitors on the Red.
How much can change in a decade? We’ll see next week when Price and Horton work to re-conquer the Red River.
If you’re going to your first Bassmaster Classic as a competitor, who better to have there with you than someone who’s jumped through all the same hoops?
Josh Polfer is fortunate because he has just such a mentor: Brandon Palaniuk. Polfer qualified for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic from the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, just like Palaniuk did for the 2011 Classic. Both anglers hail from the Idaho B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, and both are proud of the fishing education they’re received through the Federation Nation.
Palaniuk, of course, qualified for the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series and did so well there that he qualified for the 2012 Classic as a pro. His experience at the Classic and his success on the trail have been an inspiration to Polfer.
“He’s been great,” said Polfer. “He’s told me the things to look for and ways to handle things that come up. It can be intimidating when you’ve watched these guys on TV all your life and then you’re fishing against them!”
The state of Idaho is sending a huge cheering section for Polfer and Palaniuk. “I’ve got 12 to 15 people coming from Idaho, and Brandon’s got 20 or more.” Polfer’s wife will be in attendance at Shreveport-Bossier City, too, and their sons, ages 4 and 9, will be watching the action from home.
Polfer is confident about what he found during his visit to the Red River in December. “Time management will be critical,” he said, “and hopefully we won’t have any fog delays.” Polfer said he’s really hoping to make the cut for the final day of fishing, and a Top 10 finish — or a win — would be incredible.
“I’m going to have a good time,” said Polfer, “and I’m going to enjoy this experience!”
Shaw Grigsby has been around the Elite circuit long enough to know who is who in the game. That’s why Bassmaster.com wanted to pick his brain to see who he would put on his Classic Fantasy Fishing team.
Grigsby said he has never played Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing, but that shouldn’t stop him from selecting a competive lineup.
His first dilemma was in Group A.
"You can only take one of those guys? I would have just about chosen all of them," Grigsby said.
See who, and why, Grigsby would pick in this Fantasy preview.
The roles have sure reversed for Matt McCoy. In 2007, he was in the stands at the Bassmaster Classic, cheering on his uncle, Terry McWilliams. Now, in 2012, Uncle Terry will be in the stands cheering for McCoy.
McWilliams set a high standard in his club and in his fishing family when he came in right behind heavy hitters Boyd Duckett, Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam at the 2007 Classic to settle in fourth place. He was the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Division’s representative to the Classic, and now his nephew is following in his footsteps.
“He advised me to keep my head in the game,” said McCoy. “Don’t get involved in too much of the hoopla; just do what I know how to do.” That’s what McCoy was hoping for on his long drive from Indiana to Louisiana early this week.
“I’m as ready as I can be,” he added. He pre-fished the Red River with his uncle in November, just a couple of weeks after winning the berth to the Classic in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship. Then, the water was up and a cold front had just hit. He was able to choose three spots that he hopes will pan out for him.
“This is such an awesome deal,” said McCoy. “I spent $80 in tournament fees last year, and now I’m competing for a half-million dollars. I don’t know why everybody isn’t in the Federation Nation!”
Joining McWilliams at the arena in McCoy’s cheering section will be McCoy’s wife, two sons (ages 13 and 16), sister, brother-in-law and nephews.
Today, John Diaco is getting started on the 1,700-mile journey from his home in Rochester, N.H., bound for the Red River. The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation’s Eastern Division qualifier is not looking forward to the long drive, but he is ready to represent his fellow club members in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26.
“I definitely want to win,” said Diaco, a member of the Lakes Region bass club. “I’ve been working on this for 20 years. I’ve been fishing with the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation that long, and there’s a lot of great fishermen in the Federation. This has been a long road.”
His family and friends want him to win, too. “My 11-year-old daughter keeps saying ‘when Dad wins the Classic,’” said Diaco, laughing. His wife, several friends, and the New Hampshire B.A.S.S. Federation Nation president and conservation director will be in attendance to support him.
Diaco practiced on the Red River in December. “I fished pools 4 and 5 pretty good and found some hard-bottom areas the fish might use to spawn. I also looked at areas where the Classic has been won. I feel pretty good about it.
“The Red River is a lot different fishing than in New Hampshire,” said Diaco. “But it is similar to the Ouachita River,” referring to where the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship was held in November 2011. There, he caught 29 pounds, 11 ounces over three days and took third place overall.
“I think crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs will be good at the Classic,” he said. “But you never know until you get there, so I’m bringing everything!”
Welcome to the official Live Blog of the 2012 Bassmaster Classic! We'll be bringing you Live Blog posts leading up to and throughout the Bassmaster Classic, February 24-26, in Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
Stay tuned for special event information, tournament news and real-time updates from behind the scenes and on the water at the Red River during practice and competition. Visit this blog often and you won't miss a beat!