A fishless, yet productive, practice

Greg Hackney

I spent three days at Grand Lake at the end of December getting reacquainted with this year’s Bassmaster Classic lake. And, as promised, I never took a rod and never regretted not having one in the boat.

It’s the first time in years that I’ve visited a Classic lake before the cut-off date. But this practice was different in that I had no preconceived notions, and I got to see the lake with open eyes without the distraction of trying to catch bass. No pressure, no nothing.

I drove the lake from one end to the other, looking at areas where I’ve never fished. That was the plan, and it worked beautifully.

I must admit I was shocked when I pulled into the boat ramp parking lot on a Saturday morning and I was the only boat trailer there. In fact, throughout the three days I was there, I saw more duck hunters than bass anglers.

I thought that was odd for an Oklahoma lake, especially this one that normally gets a ton of bass fishing pressure. And the weather wasn’t bad; it was 55 degrees but comfortable.

I didn’t do a lot of graphing, but I did get a close look at some areas that held a ton of bait. One thing is for sure is there is no shortage of shad in that lake. The fish have plenty to eat. In one spot, the shad were stacked from the surface down to 30 feet.

I even drove around the lake in my truck, looking at the bank and shoreline from a different perspective.

The three-day experience exposed me to some new areas that I really liked in places I have never fished in previous tournaments. I also got a feel for what the lake was like throughout the system which will give me some insight as to how to attack it during practice based upon the conditions we will encounter during the Classic.

The middle of the lake historically has gotten most of the fishing pressure in the tournaments I’ve fished there. Kevin VanDam won twice and Cliff Pace won — all in the same five-mile stretch. That area will likely get pressured again, but my practice in December gives me more options to consider based on the conditions.

The lake was lower than normal and had a greenish tint to it. There weren’t as many bushes in the water as what I’ve seen in year’s past, but I still expect the lake to be one that a guy can pattern fairly easily.

All in all, it felt good to be there, to do what I did and build upon my previous experiences on the lake.

At the end of the three days I was ready to get back home and back on my mental health break. In other words, I was ready to climb back into the tree stand, hunt some deer, and know that I’ll be in a good place when we launch in Grand Lake for my 18th Bassmaster Classic.