The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation has been close to Bassmaster Classic victory many times — and successful in it once — but this year was not one of those years.
Jamie Horton, who won the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship in November 2011, was in the Top 10 after the first day of Bassmaster Classic competition and showed promise for a really good Classic. Horton’s limit of 14 pounds, 15 ounces settled him nicely in ninth place after Day 1, less than 3 pounds behind leader Keith Poche.
“I made a decision the second day to try something different,” said Horton, “but that might have been a mistake. The fish were right on the borderline trying to come up to spawn, but was getting too cold at night for that. If we were there this week, it would be crazy.”
Horton finished in 21st place with 34 pounds, 15 ounces. He caught all 13 of his keepers on a Dirty Jig with a NetBait Paca Chunk, using Berkley Big Game Mono, an Abu Garcia Revo Reel, and a 7-0 extra-heavy Carrot Stix rod.
“I’m happy with the way I performed,” continued Horton. “There was a lot of great fishermen out there, and finishing in the middle of the pack isn’t that bad.”
Horton is now planning his trip to Palatka, Fla., for the first Bassmaster Elite Series event of the season. He qualified for the Elite Series by virtue of his win in November, and he’ll fish this year as a rookie.
Horton was joined in the cut for the Top 25 on Day 3 by fellow Federation Nation qualifiers Chris Price and Josh Polfer. Price finished the tournament in 23rd place with 34 pounds even. Polfer, who also volunteers as the Idaho B.A.S.S. Federation Nation president, took 25th place with 29 pounds, 5 ounces.
The other half of the qualifiers did not make the cut. Matt McCoy finished in 34th place with 19-5; Tom Jessop finished in 45th place with 11-5; and John Diaco finished in 47th place with 8-13.