Earlier I reported about Jacob Wheeler's deep dive study of Cherokee Lake. Last December he spent over a week here, graphing the lake from one end to another. As a result he's destined to fish on Championship Sunday, unless the switch to Dustin Connell's boat proves unsuccessful.
Here's the point. Pre-fishing mattered here and it's also a likey reason why so many Elite Series rookies are doing remarakably well this week. They pre-fished the lake. This tournament is like their Bassmaster Classic. It's the first event of the season and they have one thing in mind. Qualifying for the 2018 Classic.
Meanwhile, the Elite Series veterans--and especially the Classic qualifiers--scrambled until the last minute to get their boats and gear ready. Some didn't take delivery of boats until last Saturday. All of them spent the days leading up to this week waiting on tackle to be delivered, boats to get wrapped. Some endured a heavy schedule of making personal appearances at boat shows.
All that said, the newcomers had more time to spend on the water, while the veterans spent time on the business side of the sport.