Cherry hits minimum goal

Defending Bassmaster Classic champion Hank Cherry said earlier this morning that 25 pounds was his top-end goal today and his minimum was 17 pounds. Cherry was short of that minimum and one bass short of a limit for over three hours. So what did he do? No shocker there, as Cherry went to a riprap bank and started throwing a jerkbait. It’s a combo that served him well at the Lake Guntersville Classic last year.

“That was a gift from God,” Cherry said, after boating a 2 3/-4 pounder that gives him 17-12 and has him in third place at 12:30. “He was swimming along the surface chasing shad."

Dickies Arena weigh-in update

Public weigh-ins for the much-anticipated 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will be held at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth at 4 p.m. CT Friday through Saturday, June 11-13. The tournament will be fished on Lake Ray Roberts, approximately 50 miles away from the arena. The launch area will be closed to the public and media. Private weigh-ins will be conducted lakeside immediately upon check-in, with all logged weights remaining confidential until the public weigh-in at Dickies Arena. Anglers will be allowed to transport up to two fish back to Dickies Arena, and all other fish will be immediately loaded onto a Yamaha/AFTCO Live Release boat and returned to the fishery. After the public weigh-in at Dickies Arena has concluded, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will transport the fish from Fort Worth back to the fishery. This is done to reduce pressure on the fish in the Texas heat and ensure that they can be safely returned to Ray Roberts for Texas anglers to catch again in the future. 

Fans are also encouraged to explore the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo held at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, only 10 minutes walking distance from Dickies Arena. The Expo is free to attend and will open to the general public at noon Friday and 10 a.m. CT Saturday and Sunday.

Feider enjoying 'break' for Classic

Seth Feider feels like he’s got a weight off this shoulders. For the first time in a couple of months, he’s not thinking about the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year title. With two tournaments left - at New York’s Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River - in July, Feider can concentrate on just one thing this week - the Bassmaster Classic at Lake Ray Roberts.

“It’s amazing,” he said yesterday. “It’s the first week in months that I haven’t been thinking about AOY. It’s refreshing. It’s nice - a little break.”

Feider smiled after hearing those words come out of his mouth, and added, “It’s weird that the Classic is a break.”

He’s got an 11 1/2-pound limit at noon, which has him tied for 22nd place on BassTrakk. In the AOY race, after seven tournaments, Feider has a 48-point lead over second-place Jason Christie.

Classic Expo opens with ribbon cutting

The Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk Expo is officially open! The ribbon cutting was done by Jason Sands, Fort Worth Sports Commission; B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin; and Dan Book, Distrct Manager Fort Worth Area, Academy Sports + Outdoors. 

Talley in his element

Although Frank Talley had never fished Ray Roberts before pre-practice, he’s liking what he sees so far. The Texas native has three in the box that have him over 12 pounds on BassTrakk.

Talley had no intention of trying to spend his practice out deep searching for schools of fish.

“I feel like the water coming up was my best chance to do well,” said Talley.

The two-time Classic qualifier knows that he is only two bites away from having a really good sack of fish and putting himself in good position after Day 1.

Pipkens fired up with 6 1/2-pounder

This is Chad Pipkens fourth Bassmaster Classic, and he’s excited about it, especially after catching this 6 1/2-pounder at 8:29 this morning. It’s the second-biggest bass of the day, so far. Frank Talley’s 8-pounder tops the list. But the way Lake Ray Roberts is fishing today, the big bass list is subject to change considerably.

Classic timing should amplify practice relevance

Spring tournaments bring greater opportunity, as more big fish are move to shallow, vulnerable locations. However, spring tournaments often find those fish moody, inconsistent and frustratingly hard to pattern.

That’s the tradeoff. Add in spring’s equally temperamental weather cycles and the deal can, at times, seem awfully lean.

Since 2006, Bassmaster Classics have been scheduled for early spring. This year, lingering public health concerns prompted B.A.S.S. to reschedule the sport’s biggest event from March to June.

Notwithstanding the ability to fish in significantly lighter and more comfortable clothing, anglers will likely find this year’s Classic timing offering the benefit of consistency; at least, in terms of practice relevance.

During past spring Classics, competitors have often found seasonal fluctuations rendering much of their practice efforts irrelevant by game time. Classic anglers have the option of practicing the weekend before the event, with one official practice day on Wednesday prior to the Friday start.

During the spring season, what happened even two days before the tournament begins can be little more than a memory. Summer, on the other hand, tends to be more consistent. (Technically summer 2021 officially begins June 20, but we’re close enough.)

Texas pro Frank Talley’s confident that what he saw in practice will match what he’ll see during his competition hours.

“The weather’s staying the same; it’s warm in the evenings and, of course, throughout the day,” Talley said. “The only thing that’s different is the water level has come up throughout practice and it’s topped out now.

“But that water was already up high, so I don’t think it has done anything to the fish. It might have positioned them a little differently on the cover (mostly flooded bushes), but they’re still on the same spots.”

Biggest advantage of this year’s schedule, Talley said, is the elimination of deck-shuffling weather systems.

“It’s a much easier tournament to fish this time of year because you don’t have worry about the cold fronts (common to spring events), which usually shut the fish down,” he said. “Here, a good front, whether it’s a rain front or a mild front, will actually turn the fish on. Also, with all the sunshine we’ll get, that will tighten the fish up to cover.”

Talley’s hoping to leverage this more stable and predictable scenario to his benefit. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the Classic field.

Kennedy putting on a show

This is Steve Kennedy’s 10th Bassmaster Classic. The last time it was in Texas, at Lake Conroe in 2017, he finished second by less than two pounds to Jordan Lee. Before this one started, Kennedy said he was feeling comfortable. “I’m relaxed,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I’m relaxed.”

That’s a word not normally associated with Kennedy - relaxed. He appears sort of a nervous type when he’s catching fish. And Kennedy is catching ‘em this morning. Kennedy caught a 4-1 at 8:40 that put him over the 19-pound mark for the day.

“I don’t have a big one yet,” he said. “I still feel like I’m gonna catch a big one.”

The words were barely out of his mouth when Kennedy set the hook on what would be his biggest bass of the day - a 5-10. That puts him at 22-2 before 9 a.m.

Zaldain's big fish

After fishing two of his best spots, Zaldain runs back to the take-of area and hits a half-submerged pier.  Out of all things to throw around a dock, he chooses a big spoon, a huge spoon actually.  On the second pitch, Zal-dangerous sticks a 6 pounder and boat-flips it within just a few seconds.  That started the morning off perfectly.

Mosley - Mr. Consistency of late

We settled on Brock Mosley this morning. After watching him on practice day catch a good one and get several bites it seemed like a great choice.

Mosley has been Mr. Consistency of late. A title that hasn’t been used for decades and last attributed to Ricky Green. He’s made 7 of the last 10 final days in Elite competition and normally in a very laid-back style. A lot like Green.

Today he has one 2-pounder and several bites that won’t keep. But he’s staying loose. Like most of the field he’s focusing on flooded greenery. It’s providing the bites. But they seem to be just pulling at it and not taking it.

That could all change with more or less wind and certainly more sun. But like always he’s not to worried about any of it, at least for now.

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