GREENVILLE, S.C. — This is just like every other Bassmaster Classic.
Take away the nasty chill, the stinging rain, the big cold front and just about everything else that has seemingly made this an interesting Classic, and you still have just the regular old biggest showdown of the year.
Going into every Classic (or out of it, for that matter), contenders know that at some point during the three-day event, one angler will earn the title by adjusting to changing conditions.
Gerald Swindle refers to it as "flying by the seat of my britches." Michael Iaconelli calls it "fishing in the moment." Boyd Duckett says it's a "zone."
By any description, those terms and winning the Classic boils down to making the right adjustments at the right time. In a typical Classic they come on Day Three. In this one those adjustments came on Day One.
"I guess Mother Nature played a bigger role in my fish than I thought she would,'' Skeet Reese said.
His summation was backed up by his neighborhood on the standings sheet: 30th place, with 11 pounds, 15 ounces.
Reese, the reigning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, has been adjusting all season. But he and many of the Classic contenders failed to realize how quickly and definitively an 8- to 10-degree drop in water temperarures would affect their catch.
"I knew in my heart, I should have adjusted," Fred Roumbanis said after sticking to an early pattern. He claimed that catching only 5-11 felt good, in an odd way. It proved to him that he should listen to his gut.
Those who did adjust are at the top of the standings. The best example of that is Scott Rook, who saw early on that his original plan wasn't working. By the end of a mid-morning flurry he had found that the best bites were coming out of water just 1-degree warmer than the average.
There were a lot of similar stories passed around. But the more common tales were of big fish and big sacks that should have been caught shallow, should have been enticed out of from under the boat docks that still have water on them.
Swindle was among those who died by the docks. "Today," he joked, "I just practiced pretty casts."
But the water temperature and lack of sunlight killed that bite and those who stayed with it. A handful of guys reaped the rewards. But that was only Day One.
There are two days left and chances are those adjustments may have to come each day. Take a look at the weather forecast for Saturday. It calls for sunny skies, high temperatures in the 60s. Like night and day to Friday's dark, dank and nasty outcome.
Chances are, those guys who fell on their face on Day One, can or should rebound. Those who didn't wil have to adjust. And by the end of Sunday, adjust again.
And as sure as sunshine, the winner will be the guy who did it perfectly all three days, just like every other Classic.
Bassmaster.com will provide unprecedented live video coverage of the Classic this week, Feb. 22-24. We'll have live "Hooked Up," daily launches at 6:45 a.m. ET and live weigh-ins and real-time leaderboards starting at 4:30 p.m. ET broadcast live from the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C.