2010 Bassmaster Classic Lay Lake - Birmingham, AL, Feb 19 - 21, 2010

Day Two 2010 Classic practice notes

The catfish man, Freeman's baby and KVD on ice

Gerald Sims

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The cold temperatures Saturday weren't enough to keep Greensboro, Ala., resident Gerald Sims from spending the day doing a little fishing and watching his favorite anglers run around Lay Lake.

Sims, a facilities manager for Heartland Catfish, was born and raised in Coosa County and fishes the lake twice a month, but he struggled Saturday along with the Classic contenders, only getting one bite since putting his boat in the water at 6:30 a.m.

"This can be a good lake, but the kill-off of all the shad has produced a food source everywhere," Sims said. "I've tried everything today and have not put one in the boat. The temperatures fell with all the snow and rain and the water is all colored up."

Two weeks before was the last time Sims was on the lake, and he had a tough time then as well, boating three fish up by the steam plant in the warmer water. With a tournament of his own on the 27th, Sims hopes the water warms up enough to get the fish active.
"The weather is supposed to get into the 50s for the next week, so that might help them," Sims said. "If it warms up they might bring in 40 pounds — it won't take but 5 or 8 degrees. If it doesn't, I think this could be the lowest-weight Classic."
 While it seems a stretch to expect such paltry weights as the Pittsburgh Classic that Kevin VanDam won with 12 pounds, 15 ounces, the extreme cold weather has had many anglers shaking their heads.
The answer?
"Working a jig slow is the way I expect a lot of these guys to do well," Sims said. "It's been 15 years since we've seen such a wet winter, and it's cold. The bass don't eat often and when they do, they are going to eat a jig."
As for anglers he expects to do well, Aaron Martens was at the top of his list, and he says not to count out Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam.
 Sims lives only 1 hour, 20 minutes from Lay Lake and plans to be there when the show begins.
 "I love to fish and I'll be following these guys around all week," he said. 

Freeman's baby

For Federation Nation angler Jeff Freeman, from Max Meadows, Va., these three days of Classic pre-practice are crucial. His wife is home right now, due to have the couple's third child any day now.

"If she doesn't go by Wednesday, they will induce her," Freeman said. "I'm going to leave Tuesday night, be there by Wednesday and then be back here Thursday morning."

Wednesday happens to be the final time anglers will see Lay Lake until the tournament begins Friday. Fortunately for Freeman, he had a pretty good day Saturday, getting seven bites and boating four, one of which was a 7-pounder.

That gives Freeman some confidence that even if he misses the last day of practice, he will have something solid to go on. There is some risk involved driving 8 hours each way to get home, especially considering the trouble he had leaving to get to Alabama.

"I had to bust a snow drift with my tractor to get out of my driveway," Freeman said. "I live at the top of a hill and the wind blows the snow into huge 5-foot drifts. I have not seen the grass in my yard since December 16 and they haven't had school in the county I live in for three weeks."

The upside to so much snow and no school is that his two boys, ages 6 and 9, will hopefully be able to come to Birmingham with Freeman's parents to see their dad fishing in his second Bassmaster Classic. 

VanDam on ice

This photograph came to Bassmaster.com courtesy of Kevin VanDam's wife Sherry. It appears the reigning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year has been preparing for the cold Alabama winter by doing some ice fishing back in his home state of Michigan.

"This tournament is going to be a grind — they don't bite well when the weather is like this," VanDam said. "This is what I left home doing. If I can catch them through the ice ..."

If the photo is any indication, he has no problems with a little snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Now if only the Alabama bass were as used to the cold as they are up in Michigan.