Classic packing and organization

We’ve all talked about how the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods being later in the season has created some different dynamics, but one thing that occurred to me is how it has affected my packing.

Normally, with the Classic being the first tournament of the year, you don’t have to pack everything. But with it being so later this year, you really don’t know what you’re going to be doing. You might be fishing spawning fish, you might be fishing offshore, maybe a shad spawn topwater deal — you don’t know what to expect.

In cold weather, you basically know what you’re going to be doing. There’s only a handful of things that you can key on. But with the Classic being in late March, there are so many options, you have to be prepared for anything. You can’t just pack some stuff for cold weather fishing and pack the rest later.

In a way, it kind of balances out, because with two tournaments before the Classic, I’m 3/4 the way packed already. On one hand, I didn’t have to do as much packing specifically for the Classic, but combining what I had packed for the first two Elite events with what I’ll have to carry to Lake Conroe, it’s a lot of stuff.

On top of all that, there’s a whole other layer to the packing process — the Classic clothes. In previous Classics, the clothing was a bigger deal than the tackle part because you might be fishing in 9 degrees or it could be 70 degrees, so you had to pack pretty much everything you had.

This year won’t be so heavy with the fishing clothes, but you have to have a suit and tie and other nice clothes for Night of Champions and dinners with sponsors during the week. All these clothes take up a lot of room in the back of the truck. 

Even if you have plenty of space, this adds to the logistical considerations because when you’re carrying your nice clothes, you can’t just throw them in a suitcase. You have to plan where you’re going to lay or hang certain clothes so they don’t get wrinkled during the trip. 

Now, one thing that fans may not realize is our Bassmaster Classic schedule is split into two different weeks. It all starts when we arrive at the lake and fish for three days. Then, we leave and go check into the Classic hotel. That’s when Media Day, the Classic dinner and all the sponsor dinners start. That lasts until Wednesday, you go out and fish again on Thursday and the tournament starts on Friday.

A lot of times, I’ll pack two separate bags — one for the first part and fishing clothes for the actual pre-practice for the Classic. Everything else, all your pressed clothes, stays in the truck the whole time, but you have to be careful to not jumble them up and put stuff on top of them. That’s why I use two separate bags.

Here’s a couple of packing tips I’ve learned over the years: First, I use a locker box to keep most of my tackle organized, but I’ve learned that if I cut the top flaps off the boxes that my Zoom soft plastics come in, I can place them in the drawers to keep the packages neatly organized but easily accessible.

Also, I’ve added non-skid padding to the top of my locker box because this keeps any storage bins I may use from slipping. Keeping everything in its place allows me to travel without worrying about anything moving around and possibly damaging my rods.

Another thing I do to protect my rods is use one of the rod cases that Mike McClelland’s dad makes. Kind of like a gun case, it narrows at the end, and it keeps your rods secure by bundling them together. It’s like toothpicks; you can break one by itself, but if you bundle 50 together, it’s harder.

I know I have to catch fish to win the Classic, but a good first step is arriving with everything organized and in good shape.