As a 24-year-old rookie, Garrett Paquette had a memorable 2019 Elite Series season. The highlight was topping the 100-pound mark with a second-place finish at Lake Fork. But his season ended with a surprising thud, as he was the first man out of the Bassmaster Classic cut. The surprise was where the nail was put in the coffin for his Classic chances - Lake St. Clair, which the Canton, Michigan resident knows pretty well.
"It was a brutal three days, to put it lightly," said Paquette of the event where he finished 48th out of 50 anglers. "Obviously, I've got a great deal of motivation (this week). I definitely want to go out and get redemption. That was tough in front of friends and family last year. It was not how you want to perform."
Lake St. Clair is close enough to his home to be Paquette's "home waters," but he has concentrated on other lakes and rivers in the area. He's not unfamiliar with it though, hence his surprising finish last year. Paquette slipped starting the 2020 season too, finishing next-to-last at Florida's St. Johns River. But he's tightened it up big-time since - posting 22nd-, 14th- and 29th-place finishes in the next three tournaments. The St. Johns River was a wakeup call. He's moved up to 36th in the AOY standings since.
"After St. Johns I was able to sit down, re-evaluate and get better organized," Paquette said. "I'm fairly organized anyway, but I stepped it up. It's made a difference."
We'll see if that difference can bring him some redemption on Lake St. Clair. Paquette put his fourth bass in the boat at 9:20 a.m. Only one of those would he like to have in his weigh-in bag at the end of the day, but it's early. It's also early in Paquette's pro fishing career. He won't turn 26 until Novermber 29th, and he looks like a guy who will be around the Elite Series for a long time.