This time it’s for real

The Geico Bassmaster Classic will be here in just a few short weeks, and this one is going to be special. I know that you hear that every year. There are always predictions about great big fish, heavy sacks and photo-finishes. The thing is, though, this time it’s true.

We’re fishing a serious, world-class bass fishery. I’d go so far as to say that Lake Guntersville is one of the top five bass lakes in the world. The thing that makes that so amazing in my mind is that it also has some of the heaviest fishing pressure of any lake in the world.

I’ve been asked about that more than once. The question is usually about how that pressure is affecting the fishing in general and about how it will impact the fishing at our Classic.

The answer to both of them is that it doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact at all. The fish are still big, they’re healthy and there are plenty of them. I suspect that’s because of the diverse habitat in the lake.

There’s something for everyone. The upper end is more like a river, while the lower end is more like a traditional lake. And there are flats, channels and thousands of acres of grass everywhere. If I had to guess, I’d say the grass is the most important. It scatters the fish and makes them harder to target in numbers that would deplete the population to the point where it was noticeable.

Based on what I saw on my scouting trip last month with my uncle, I’ll guess that it’ll take at least 20 pounds a day to even be in the running. In fact, 23-25 pounds a day might be more like it. That’s extraordinary. If you don’t believe me, check some of the weights from past tournaments and past Classics.

Think about that when you consider that every angler who launches his boat on Thursday morning down there will be fishing to win. This is not an event where a limit every day will matter. You’ll have to have a limit of giants to be anywhere close to the top.

And so I’ll tell you that the hype around this Bassmaster Classic is special. This time it’s for real.

That’s one of two reasons this one means so much to me. The second reason is much more personal.

This one is special to me because this past year drove home the point that qualifying for a Classic should never be considered easy and it’s not something to be taken for granted. Without rehashing all that, I’ve said in the past I’ll tell you that when I thought I was in trouble, and might not qualify, it made an impression on me, one that I won’t forget.

Next time we’ll talk a little about how I think the lake might fish, and about what factors will influence the bite.

Hey, I almost forgot — come early February I’ll be launching a live video program over the Internet called Ike Live. Stay tuned for the details.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website,

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