Classic week was awesome

I’m so excited about Classic week that I don’t even know where to start with this column. The 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods was the greatest bass fishing tournament I’ve ever been around.

I want to start by talking about the fishing. I had a tough first day. When I came in I only had about 9 pounds. So when I saw Ott’s 20-pound sack I was disheartened. I told Trait that he was going to run away with everything. 

She stopped me in the middle of my lament and told me to knock it off. She didn’t want to hear that. She pointed out that tomorrow would be another day and that in a three-day tournament anything could happen. She told me to go out the next morning and fish. She was right. I straightened out my thinking, tied on one of my Megabass swimbaits and went fishing. 

It was a wonderful experience. I was down in the standings so I was all alone with my Marshal in my boat — no camera and not a lot of spectators. I didn’t even have my GoPro with me because I left it in the truck. It was just a fun day of fishing, and the results reflected that. I weighed in 21 pounds, 12 ounces of bass — the biggest sack of the Classic. That pushed me into third place. 

I made up my mind that evening that I would fish the same way on Sunday. I realized that I didn’t want to do well, I wanted to win. And, if I didn’t win, I was willing to take my lumps. That’s the only way you can fish a Classic.

Well, I didn’t win. I ended up 12th when everything was over, but I still would not have changed my strategy. The Classic is the greatest fishing show on earth. A good finish is not what it’s about. That was really driven home during the weigh-in Sunday afternoon. 

Sitting on that stage, knowing that there are tens of thousands of fans watching you, was a feeling I’ve never experienced before. I can’t tell you how much it motivated me to make sure I have a good year this year so I can return next year. If this is how B.A.S.S. can put the 49th together, I can only imagine what 50 will be like. 

I’m telling you, that Super Six thing got my attention. It’s beyond words to describe what it’s like to be at the top of the standings in a tournament like a Classic. It isn’t about anything other than pride — in yourself and what you’ve accomplished and pride in what B.A.S.S. had accomplished. Nothing I’ve ever done in fishing compares to last week.

Thank you, thank you, thank you: To Trait for her motivating tough love, and to B.A.S.S. for staying true to our sport. I also want to mention the fans and my fellow anglers. They were great, too.  

Next time I’m going to talk about swimbaits. I’ve had two good tournaments this year with them, Lanier and the Classic. We’ll look at how I select them, where I fish them and why as well as how I fish certain types of structure with them.