Looking for Grand Lake revenge

I haven’t missed a Bassmaster Classic yet since joining the Bassmaster Elites in 2019, but qualifying for the 2024 Classic is a huge deal for me — especially since I found out that Grand Lake would be the location for this event.

Of all the Classics I’ve qualified for, this was the one I’ve wanted to fish the most. That’s because I left some unfinished business on the fishery.

During my years with FLW, I fished Grand lake three times on the regional series, and I finished second in 2017, third in 2015 and fourth in 2016. I had my opportunities to win, but it just never came together.

I always said I wanted revenge on Grand Lake, but B.A.S.S. hasn’t been there since I moved to the Elites five years ago. I put more pressure on myself during the 2023 season than I ever have before because I love that lake in the spring.

The fact that I have a second, third and fourth — I really need to try to win one there. If there’s any tournament where I have an opportunity to get a first place, it would be the Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake.

Coming close to winning on Grand Lake three times was bittersweet, but I’ve learned a lot about this lake. What I like is that it sets up as a prespawn pattern lake. There’s a lot of natural shoreline, whether it’s sand, clay, rocks, chunk rocks and bluff walls, along with a lot of floating docks.

Considering the growth of forward-facing sonar, this may be wishful thinking on my part, but I would love to see this Classic won on an old-school, shallow-water prespawn pattern. I’m not saying it’s going to be won that way, but I feel like a certain lake at a certain time of the year might give me the opportunity to fish the way I really like to fish.

However next year’s Classic shapes up, I feel like I’m going to be in a good frame of mind to do well. This will be my fifth one, so I understand what it takes — what mindset I need.

Short and sweet, you’re there for one reason — to win. I won’t be satisfied unless I walk away with the trophy.

It’s a tournament you work your entire year to compete in. I know it’s cliche, but I have dreamed about this ever since I was a kid.

A Classic win is life changing, so you practice a little more aggressively, you fish differently, you take more risks. During my career, I’ve cashed checks consistently, but in the Classic, I’m not satisfied after practice unless I think I’m on the fish to win.

The first Classic I fished — 2020 on Lake Guntersville — I finished 43rd out of 53. I’m not gonna say I was awestruck, but I fished it like every other tournament I’d fished before that.

The next year, in the Classic at Lake Ray Roberts, I placed second. I flipped the switch mentally, and it almost paid off with a win.

I feel like I’m going to bring the right mix of experience to the 2024 Bassmaster Classic. No one can say how it will turn out, but you can bet I’ll be looking for my Grand Lake revenge.