2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro
Lake Guntersville - Birmingham, AL, Feb 21 - 23, 2014

The Importance of Practice Day 2014

Darren Jacobson
A day that typically is more show and searching turned serious at Lake Guntersville for the Classic contenders, including Ish Monroe.

Typically during the official practice day of a Bassmaster Classic, the focus for most anglers is to build secondary spots on the primary areas they found whether in the two-day pre-practice time last weekend or before the January cutoff date.

But there was a different mood Wednesday during the practice day for the GEICO 2014 Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.

"Absolutely," Todd Faircloth said. "This is the most important day (until the tournament starts Friday).

"I had a tough pre-practice. But a guy could get dialed in today."

The difference in this practice day and the ones in previous years has more to do with the weather than it does Lake Guntersville being different than any other Classic site. A warming trend is underway, and if that trend continues bass are likely moving shallow — in bunches. The combination of Guntersville's southern U.S. location and warming water means bass are thinking spring and pre-spawn.

But no one seemed to get dialed-in Wednesday, based on our on-the-water reports. That doesn't mean no one did. But it stayed cloudy and felt cold all day. With no sunshine, the water temperatures in the main lake stayed in the mid 40s. High winds and rain are supposed to blow through here tonight and tomorrow, giving way to partly cloudy skies, highs near 60 and lows in the mid 30s all three tournament days.

In other words, an ultimate fish-the-moment Classic could be in store. It could be start-all-over with no clues come Friday. That might be frustrating for the competitors, but it sets up a fascinating event for observers.

No one fishes-the-moment better than Mike Iaconelli. But a dark-horse candidate is Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark. Browning is a pro's pro. He's been fishing B.A.S.S. for almost two decades now. He's got over $1 million in BASS earnings, but only two victories. Browning is coming off back-to-back second place finishes: He was second in the last Bass Pro Shops Central Open on Ross Barnett last October, and second – by a mere one ounce – on Amistad in a Central Open earlier this month. Instead of being deflated by finishing second twice, Browning claims he's as confident as he's been in his long career.

"I've got as much confidence as anyone in this field," Browning said Wednesday morning. "In both of those tournaments, I had nothing after practice. I just flew by the seat of my pants and figured it out. I'll be confident in pulling anything out of the rod box and using it in any situation this week."