What a Classic!

I was not at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic but I followed every minute of it online. It looked to me like this was the most organized and put together one that I have ever experienced. And what an exciting finish. On Sunday morning it looked like it was going to be a runaway, but it didn’t turn out that way. That’s mostly because the Classic puts together the best anglers on the planet.

One of the things I want to impress on all the fans who read this is that these guys caught their fish in water that was as cold as 39 degrees. (Actually, I think Bobby Lane had water at 36 degrees.)

Even when it warmed up, it was still in the low 40-degree range. Fish are coldblooded. They don’t move all that fast when they’re that cold. Look at the weights. It’s incredible.

To get a sense of what that’s like, go to your favorite lake or pond, one that you know is full of keeper-sized bass, and try to catch a limit in water that cold. It’s tough, darn near impossible. Yet, that’s what most of the field did on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees out in Oklahoma last week. That should tell you how good these men really are when it comes to finding bass and then making them bite.

It also says something about Grand Lake. I said a week or so ago that the real winner would be the lake, that this Classic would generate new respect for what Grand Lake is and what it’s capable of producing. I’m happy to say I was right about that.

Our champion, Cliff Pace, is going to be a good one, too. He’s very different from Chris Lane but that shouldn’t detract from how he’ll handle his responsibilities and the face of professional bass fishing.

His angling skills are well-known, and I think appreciated by most men and women who follow fishing at this level. What might not be so well-known is a trait I’ve noticed since 2008 when he finished second on Lake Hartwell. That’s his ability to concentrate on the task at hand to the exclusion of everything else that’s going on around him.

That makes him a very dangerous competitor. Think of it from this perspective. He had a tough final day last Sunday. Nevertheless, he didn’t panic and he didn’t let that get under his skin. He put his head down, fished as hard as he could, and didn’t think about anything else until he was back at the ramp. Ultimately that put enough weight in his livewell to earn him the win.

Sometimes that trait can be misunderstood. It can come across as withdrawn or aloof. That’s unfair when it comes to Cliff Pace. He isn’t either one of those things. He’s a man on a mission and he’s very good at it.

Congratulations to Cliff on his win and to all the other guys who qualified and fished the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. You represented our sport well.

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