The Bassmaster Classic usually brings out the finest performances of bass fishing's elite anglers, so any blunders can prove costly in this test of the best.
The Classic contenders rank among the most skilled anglers in the world, but they are still human and prone to make some mistakes — even during the Big Show. Bassmaster.com surveyed the following Classic top 10 finishers to find out what blunders they made during Classic week.
Aaron Martens: "I left one of my boxes — a very crucial one — out of the boat. It's usually always in there, but I had a new boat and I had transferred all of my tackle from one boat to the next (the day before practice began) and it got left out." The first competition day, Martens caught all of his fish on a spinnerbait, but the bite changed the next day. "When they just started knocking into a spinnerbait, I knew I had to go to a square-bill or a lipless crankbait," recalls Martens.
The trouble was his shallow-running crankbaits were in the box he left behind, so he had to stick with the spinnerbait and finished with a 12-11 limit. Armed with shallow-diving crankbaits on the final day, Martens bounced back with a 25-14 bag.
Boyd Duckett: "Intuition is the whole game," says Duckett, who failed to follow his the first competition morning. "I went to Venice and the whole two-hour trip all I could think about was that I needed to be in Cataouatche." His three practice days never gave him a clue as to which area might produce best.
"I practiced (in Cataouatche) all day on Wednesday (the final practice day), but I got only one bite," says Duckett. After catching a 13-12 limit at Venice the first day, Duckett went to Cataouatche the next morning and searched for an area away from the crowds. "Late in the day I found another spawning flat that had fish better than the other guys had. I caught four that weighed 10 1/2, and I lost a giant, probably an 8- or 9-pounder. The Alabama pro scored big in Cataouatche the final day with a 28-13 bag to take sixth place.
Todd Faircloth: "The first day I mismanaged my time a little bit. I came back and had 30 or 40 minutes left. You kind of have to allow for some time when you're making that long of a run (to Venice), but I think I allowed for a little bit too much.
I could have gone to Cataouatche for a while, but I just fished pretty close (to the ramp), and it was just dead time." The Texas pro pulled a blooper on the second day when he set the hook on a 3 1/2-pounder and his reel flew off the rod. Fortunately, he quickly recovered from this gaffe by hand-lining the fish to the boat.
Bobby Lane: The Florida pro never spent much practice time in Cataouatche since he didn't think those waters would warm up quick enough. "I was fishing for Louisiana bass when my own home Florida-strain largemouth were sitting right next to me waiting to be caught, and I didn't take advantage of that. So I was running down to Venice to catch Louisiana bass.
I adapt to Florida strain better and, with conditions what they were, I should have been trying to catch my own fish instead of somebody else's."
Brent Chapman: This Kansas pro learned the first practice day that GPS trails can be misleading sometimes. "I got in this area where it kept getting narrower and narrower, and then I got to a Y in the path. I had GPS trails both ways, so I went to the right." The GPS trail he followed led to a dead end. "So the first morning of practice I hadn't even made a cast, and I was stuck in the mud."
After 30 minutes of push-poling and flinging mud with his engine in reverse, Chapman got back to the other GPS trail. "I finally got to the little honey hole I was all excited about, and it looked like chocolate milk in there. The water temperature was 38 degrees."