Ready to pop

It's a great day to be a bass pro! I'm prefishing Smith Mountain. The water's 65 degrees, the sun's out, the air is 75 degrees and the fish are shallow. What more could a man ask for in life?

Days like this make me wonder if this is really a business. I know I preach all the time about treating it as such, but how can it be a business when it's so much fun? There's something not right about that. Business is supposed to be work, not fun. I wonder sometimes if there are others out there competing in a sport at a professional level who love what they do as much as me. I suppose there are, but I have no idea who they are or where they can be found.

This will probably be a wild event. The water temperature is in front of the fish. By that I mean that we went from winter to spring in a matter of days. It looks to me like the bass are trying to do their prespawn eating at the same time they're moving toward the beds. Everything is happening all at once. Along with the weather, it looks like Mother Nature has changed this lake a little, too. I'm guessing there were bad ice storms and high winds around here over the winter. The shoreline is covered with new trees and brush that's blown into the water. Add that to the high number of docks on the lake, and there's no limit to the shoreline cover a guy can target.

I don't have to tell you what that means to us fishermen. Every piece of wood is full of forage and the bass are right in there with them. They're all at less than 8 feet and some are even schooling. You can catch one on almost every lure in your boat — topwater, spinnerbait, crankbait, plastic or jig. It makes no difference. This will be a different tournament than last year. We didn't expect that when we were driving here, but it's obvious now. You can target big prespawn females, or, by tournament time, you'll be able to catch them off the beds, if that's your thing. That's a dynamite combination for a group of Elite Series guys.

Everyone will be able to fish to their strengths. That means high weights and an exciting finish. It'll take around 15 pounds a day to be a player this week and maybe 17 or 18 to win. That's heavier than last year when VanDam won with a little less than 62 pounds. It's time to go. I need to calm down — no easy task under these conditions — and develop a pattern that'll get me a strong finish this week. I'd like to find a big fish prespawn pattern that'll hold up for four days. I'll need that if I'm going to make the Classic.

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