After all a Classic angler has been through, here is the big day. You have a grueling process to qualify. You come to pre-practice and scout. You buy and/or order extra and new baits. You have to wait and think about it all the time. You practice more. You find yourself in a whirlwind of media, excitement, jitters, and the best bass anglers in the world. Now the first day of the Bassmaster Classic is here. It has all culminated to this.
The media hoopla lasts into the afternoon on the day before Day 1 of competition. Most anglers run to the boat yard to make last minute checks and tackle preparation before day one. This is usually soothing to get away from talking about it and actually get to focus on the task at hand. This boat yard time is one of my favorite parts of the Classic.
Once you feel good about being ready, it is back to the hotel. Many contenders head to their room, turn off their phone, and relax. I always ordered room service so I did not have to leave the room. It is almost like a meditation period if you are into that kind of thing. This is one night you try to get to bed early. Most of the time that really means lying in bed and relaxing while you stare at the ceiling. Sleep does not come easy since the contender's mind is racing.
Where do I start? What if someone is on the place I want to start? Did I reline every rod? Are all my hooks sharp? Are my batteries going to stay charged? What if I hit a stump? How much weight do I need? When do I back off my area? Should I try for big fish first or late? What if I don't get bit in my best area? It does not stop until the alarm goes off.
You finally wake up and know that this is the big day. Everything is laid out. Nothing is left to chance. You get on the bus and head to the boat yard just like the official practice day. You know the routine. Tension is so thick that everyone feels it. This is the day we all have waited for. The Bassmaster Classic is never won on the first day but you can lose it on the first day. A good start is crucial. Everyone knows that.
The sound of the outboard is calming. You know you are back in your comfort zone. They finally call your name. You idle out and plane off. The feel of pure speed on the water completely jacks up your adrenaline even more. It takes a while to shake off the excitement and get into the groove. Eventually you know it is just you against the fish. But there is the pressure monkey you can't shake in the Classic, especially on the first big day.