Two seasons away from the Elite Series is enough to make any BASS pro hungry, but Ohio pro Frank Scalish is ravenous.
After the most dominating performance seen during any Opens season, Frank Scalish is back in the Elites.
The 2010 season will mark Scalish's second Bassmaster Classic and second shot at the highest level of fishing. Scalish has gotten his career back on path, and feels he's prepared to make a name for himself all over again.
Back-to-back bad seasons in 2005 and 2006 left Scalish outside the Elite Series looking in. He was forced to fish the Opens searching for a way back to the Elites. After several hiccups in the 2008 Opens season, he fell just short of the 2009 Elite Series. For 2009, he strengthened his resolve and entered all nine Open events.
"This year I entered all nine because you can't take a chance with one division," he said. "If something happens — like in 2008 — you're toast."
Scalish thought his best bet was going to be the Northern Opens, because he is most familiar with the waters they visit. The first event of the 2009 Northern Opens was on the Chesapeake Bay.
"That first one worried me, but Erie and Champlain weren't gifts, either. I've done well at both of them, and I've done poorly at both," he said.
He would place third at Chesapeake, and that would equal his worst finish of the 2009 Northern Opens. He finished second at Lake Champlain and third again on Erie. Initially his goal was to have a 30-point lead going into the last event so he would have a cushion if something happened. Instead, he more than doubled that and started with a 75-point lead. His third place finish at Erie would put him 120 points ahead of runner-up Kotaro Kiriyama.
"I wanted to win the points by a large enough margin so it looked like no one even fished against me," he said. "I needed to get even with a few bad seasons and to let everyone know to look out."
Now that he's made the Classic again, he's hoping a coincidence will play to his favor. Scalish's only other Classic appearance was in 2002 on Alabama's Lay Lake, the sight of the 2010 contest.
"I think it's a good omen," he says. "I'm going in there with no intent of losing. I'm going for the gold."
After the Classic, Scalish is faced with eight bodies of water and more than 100 of the best anglers in the business. Rather than feel intimidated, Scalish feels like he's home again.
"I really miss it. A lot of my good friends are in the Elites," he says. "Everything about it is better. I feel like I belong at that level and my sponsors like it more, too."
Scalish plans on taking the same approach he took to the 2009 Opens: focusing and executing. Despite not being familiar with several of the waters, he's undeterred.
"That doesn't bother me. I'm applying the same focus I did to the Opens. If I can clear my head and fish, I shouldn't have too much of an issue," he said.