The Classic dream of Frank Scalish didn't crumble on Friday when the Cleveland angler was trimmed from the 52-man field in the 32nd annual CITGO BASSMASTER Classic. It was just put on hold.
"Having a poor tournament, especially when you're competing in the Super Bowl of bass fishing, is certainly upsetting," said Scalish, 41, the Rookie of the Year on this year's BASSMASTER Tour. "Just getting to the Classic for the first time, though, is a tremendous achievement that overshadows everything.
"Getting a taste of the Classic has been awesome. It gives me the incentive to go all out and make it back again next year."
Scalish caught four small bass on Friday that weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces. It pushed his total for two days to 7 pounds, 15 ounces, putting him in 46th place. Only the top 25 anglers in the 52-man field return for the final-day action and a shot at the $200,000 top prize.
Scalish had a game plan entering the Classic that he thought would catch limits of big bass. Like so many anglers in the field he saw his hot spots dry up and a limit catch become impossible to find.
"None of the places where I caught big bass during the practice session last month held up," he said, with a shake of his head. "I worked them hard and with the lures that produced some exceptional fish.
"Today I tried some new stuff and just scrambled up and down the lake, looking for a pattern that would work," said Scalish. "I focused on the skinny part of the river where there was a lot of current, but couldn't hook a big one."
Finding fishing room was also a problem.
"There were a lot of local anglers out on the river and they were casting to the weed beds that I wanted to fish," he said. "I made four or five stops and found fishermen already there.
"The bass I was targeting were suspending under big schools of shad. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't get them to bite."
Classic week isn't over for Scalish.
Scalish and his wife, Rachel, will watch the weigh-in on the final day and take in the extravagant Classic show. It is not only the first time that Rachel Scalish has been to a Classic, but the first time she has attended a bass tournament.
Scalish will also go back to work. He has scheduled appearances in the exhibits of his sponsors at the Classic Outdoor Show at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, signing autographs and talking bass fishing.
"The Classic is the greatest show in fishing," he said. "I'm delighted to have been a part of it and can't wait to do it again."
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.