The winter Classic of 2010

Becky and I are in the hotel and settled down for the winter Classic of 2010. This one is going to be a mental bass tournament. Every angler out there can catch bass. That's no big deal. What's going to matter come Friday morning will be mental toughness under some of the most difficult conditions I've ever faced in a professional grade tournament.

It'll be a matter of who can fish tough — all day, every day — until it's over. I know I've talked about that before, but that's because it's so important. You can't ever quit. Your last cast is as good as your first cast. You have to hang in there until the end, and the end doesn't come until you don't have time to make even one more cast.

A lot of guys say that, and they probably believe it, but they don't really live it. It's not in their soul. They start out fishing hard. Then, when they don't have a fish in the boat at 1:00 in the afternoon they figure they've had it. Mentally they give up. Of course, once they do that it's all over for them. They have no chance of winning at that point.

So, if you're a fan and you want to try to pick a winner in this one look carefully at the veteran anglers, the guys who have fished tough tournaments before and came out on top. Look for the guys who can stay mentally tough all day, those who don't give up.

Don't get fooled by so-called fishing skill — who can catch what kind of bass under certain conditions. I'm not saying skill is unimportant. It isn't. What I am saying is that hard work, mental perseverance and the little things are what will determine the winner this week. Several of the anglers are calling this a true fishing tournament. They're right. The guys who know how to fish — as opposed to catch — will rise to the top.

At this level, professional bass fishing is mental, not physical. We all know how to find fish, and usually we can make them bite. I say usually because this Classic may be the exception that proves the rule. I'm not sure anyone can make very many fish bite under these conditions. The guys who understand that, and never quit, are the ones to watch.

With all this in mind a lot of guys have asked me how many pounds it would take for me to stay in the hotel and not fish. Here's my answer: If you gave me 40 pounds, I would take the chance and not fish. It's tough out there guys. This weather is nasty. Forty pounds will probably win it.

Realize, however, that I'm answering a parlor question. I'm not the sort of guy to stay in the hotel and watch the other competitors fish. That's just not my style. I'd die trying to do that.

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