Frank Scalish is the Rookie of the Year, but he played the Classic game like an old pro on Tuesday's lone practice day leading to the 32nd edition of the CITGO BASSMASTER Classic on Lay Lake.
The Cleveland, Ohio bass fisherman put his honey holes on ice during a steamy day on the water. The spots where he had found good concentrations of largemouth and spotted bass during last month's pre-practice were too valuable to even test by tossing in a lure.
Instead, Scalish cruised similar structure to make sure his fishing pattern was still alive. And, hopefully, allow his media partner to hook a fish in the Bassmaster Celebrity Tournament. Both tasks were successful.
"I don't want to catch a fish that could be important when the tournament begins," said Scalish, 41, who owns an advertising and marketing firm. "But I'm really on edge, hoping all of those places that I found last month are still holding good concentrations of bass."
Since I was his media partner, finding a new spot with a few hefty bass seemed to be a first-rate idea. Flipping a brush pile that wasn't in Scalish's game plan, a couple of spotted bass and a 3-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass were hooked. The largemouth bass was big enough to garner second place in the celebrity event.
"The are some spots out here that have small fish and others that seem to attract big fish," said Scalish, feeling more confident about his Classic chances. "There are also spots that are holding lots of fish.
"Then there are my favorites, which are the spots with lots of big fish," said Scalish with a laugh.
The odds are against catching strings of lunker bass on Lay Lake. The sizzling days and water temperatures that threaten to soar into the 90s are making the fishing difficult. A full moon will encourage bass to feed more heavily after dark.
Scalish is confident his spots are still holding some big bass — and that he can catch them.
"There is plenty of pressure, but I've faced pressure-filled situations before," he said. "I've got a good game plan and I'll be ready to go on Thursday morning."
By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its B.A.S.S. Federation, B.A.S.S. is the world's largest fishing organization. The CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship after more than three decades. B.A.S.S. is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN.
Sponsors of the 2002 CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic include: CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Chevrolet Trucks, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Long John Silver's, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, and B.A.S.S. Platinum Visa/First USA.
Associate Sponsors include Bass Cat Boats and G3 Boats.
The 2002 CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic will be presented locally by the State of Alabama, City of Birmingham, Jefferson County and Shelby County.
For more information contact: the CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic Media Center at (205) 458-8339.