The night before

The knots are tied and tested, the tackle trays sorted and organized. Practice is over and game time approaches. So, what else is there for Geico Bassmaster Classic competitors to do? 

We asked a handful of competitors about their pre-tournament rituals and routines.

Casey Ashley: “If I have a good practice, I try to eat at the same place, get gas at the same place, wear the same gloves. I’m a little superstitious, but not bad.”

As Ashley explained, sticking with patterns is not about taking the easy road. Rather, it’s about managing the mental game through comfortable familiarities.

“That’s what people don’t realize about this sport — it’s 95 percent mental and the mental part is what takes a toll on you physically,” he said. “The talent gets better and better every single year (at the Classic), so any little thing you can do to keep your mind at ease, you need to do it.”

Josh Bertrand: With the hectic, demanding schedule inherent to Classic week, the Arizona angler loves nothing better than to close out his evening with familiar faces.

“My favorite thing to do right before I go to bed is to just FaceTime my kids,” he said. “I have a 2 1/2-year-old girl (Emma) and a 6-month-old son Parker who weren’t able to make it out here, so I always FaceTime them and watch my daughter acting silly and singing to me and that puts me in a good state of mind before I go to bed and I’m ready to fish the next day.”

Mark Daniels: There’s no such thing as too much map study for Daniels; in fact, some of his last cell phone usage the night before the Classic will be aerial map reviews. He’s put in the practice time, so he’s looking to refine the hunt with precision site selection.

“I’m looking for something I may have missed, something I didn’t see before so I can put together a mental game plan of what I might do,” Daniels said. “And if that doesn’t work, having plans C, D and E. I try to think about that before time, so I don’t have that ‘Oh crap!’ moment. In the Classic, you don’t want to be sitting at idle at any point; you want to be hunting and pecking at all times. I want to be thinking about my next move before I make my next move.”

Cliff Pirch: For the Arizona Elite angler, spending time in prayer and Bible study has a calming effect that readies his mind for the task at hand. Using a devotional app, Daily Bread, for relevant verses and lessons, he’ll actually spend this quiet time in the morning before heading to take-off.

“There has to be coffee with it — that’s a big part of it too,” Pirch said. “Getting off to a start where I’m not in the whirlwind yet, I get things straight and then get after it.”

Jacob Wheeler: They say fish is brain food; so maybe that’s why Wheeler always eats sushi the night before a big event like the Classic. Tuna and salmon are his faves and even though his wife took some convincing, she’s now on the rice and seaweed train too.

“The other thing is preparation,” Wheeler said. “I make sure my gas tank is full, I make sure my oil is full, I make sure my lights are working, because in B.A.S.S. competition, if your lights don’t work, you can’t go out.

“After that, going to a sushi spot, hanging out with some good buddies — that’s the relaxing part for me.”