Classic challenges

Now that Bassmaster Classic Week is here, the competitors will face many challenges — both on and off the water.

First will be time management. No matter how well prepared an angler might be, there are bound to be last-minute obligations or distractions to throw off his timing. It could be as simple as a sponsor request, or as complicated as an equipment failure — but somehow, something always seems to pop up. How an angler responds to these distractions can determine his outcome in the event.

For some, it's their first Classic appearance. For others, the event has almost become routine. Regardless, for any competitor, Classic Week is exhausting and incredibly demanding. And those that handle the pressure best are likely to excel during the competition.

And don't forget the weather. Fishing in cold weather will have an impact — for some more than others. But all will feel some effect of a wintertime event held in Oklahoma.

Media Blitz

Along with this will come the onslaught of media. And that's understandable — the Bassmaster Classic is the biggest show in fishing. It attracts hundreds-of-thousands of spectators worldwide. So reporting the news related to this event is a priority.

While most pro anglers work well with the media, there are some who dislike the prospect of interviews and press conferences during Classic Week. It's a distraction they would rather avoid.

Ahead of competition, the entire field is required to meet for Media Day. There they will conduct photo shoots and interviews with pre-approved members of the press, including print and electronic media. Not just Bassmaster, B.A.S.S. Times and, but countless other publications, including newspapers and internet news services. Radio and TV interviews are also a big part of Media Day. It's busy and tiring, but it's essential. It's one of the most important times an angler can promote his sponsors effectively.

As the competition gets underway, the media's focus will turn to the leaders — following them on the water via chase boats or through BASSTrakk reports. If they're among the chosen few, media personnel can actually ride along with a competitor during his day on the water.

Immediately following weigh-in, the leaders are whisked off to a press conference, where members of the media will attempt to extract information on how the biggest stringers were caught. These press conferences can be very frustrating and/or entertaining, depending on which side you're on. The competitors look for creative ways to offer honest answers that reveal as little as possible. With so much at stake, who can blame them?

Classic Expo — The Other Show

Although I won't be competing in this year's event, I will be present. Like others who didn't qualify, I'll be working the booths of my sponsors at the Classic Outdoor Expo. And though I'd much rather be competing, this year's show will be memorable nonetheless.

The Classic Expo is one of the largest consumer tackle shows in the world. In Tulsa, tens of thousands are expected to attend.

You see, two of my sponsors are unveiling new products during Classic Week, and both have done their homework. First, let me mention Rapala. For those of you who are fortunate enough to attend the show, you'll see one of the most impressive spreads of lures ever offered by a manufacturer. At first glance they'll look quite familiar, but under closer inspection you'll see a very distinct and major difference. And when these lures hit the water, you'll witness something magical.

Along with me, several other Rapala pros will be on hand discussing how these new lures work, and you can watch them in action during scheduled tank demonstrations throughout the show. Find us in the Dick's Sporting Goods booth.

The new Hildebrandt Drum Roller.

Hildebrandt has also come up with some neat new products — spinnerbaits to be exact. One of these is a dual-purpose 1-ounce model designed for deep structure fishing or shallow high-speed retrieves. It's called the Double Deep and it sports all of the high-end components that are standard on Hildebrandt spinnerbaits. The other is one of my own design. It's called the Drum Roller and it incorporates some unusual features compared to other spinnerbaits; the head swings feely from the wire frame, giving the body of the lure a swimbait-like action.

Stop by and see it in the Hildebrandt booth. I'll be there in the mornings all weekend.

Choosing a Champion

As the weekend winds down, bass fans everywhere will be fixed on the leaders and the eventual outcome. Will your favorite win? Who knows? But if things go like last year, I should probably place a bet with an odds maker in Vegas.

You see, last year I contacted the guys at Power-Pole and told them I had a strange feeling that Chris Lane would win in Shreveport. I couldn’t explain why, but the feeling was powerful and persistent. Chris was the only angler I picked as a result. And as we all know, he fulfilled that prediction.

Who the lucky angler will be this year is anybody's guess. And while I have my favorites, I haven’t had any strange or powerful premonitions like the one of Chris Lane. Should that change, however, I'll be sure to share that angler's name with each of you … right after I place my bet!

See you in Tulsa.

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