The 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is almost here, and I can hardly wait.
During the practice period, I’ve grown to love Lake Conroe. It seems like anything can happen on any cast. You could come up empty or you could catch a giant. I haven’t caught any of those giants in practice, but I’ve seen enough to know they live here, and you can’t argue with what lives in a lake.
The extended forecast for the Classic looks interesting. Friday and Saturday are calling for thunderstorms and wind. Sunday should be clear and windy. There will also be a new moon on Monday, so that could bring in another wave of spawners. Right now, the water temperature is 65 to 70 degrees. Just how all of this will influence the fishing is the $300,000 question — the prize for the winner.
With so much happening with the weather and moon phase, I really think this is going to be a thinking angler’s tournament. I’ll be surprised if it’s won in a single area or on just one or two baits. To win, an angler is going to have to roll with the punches and make better adjustments than the rest of the field. To a degree, that’s always true, but this year even more so.
Ordinarily, this is where the columnist tells you how much they think it’ll take to win the tournament or how the tournament will be won. Not me and not now. I still have a lot of questions that I hope to answer on the final practice day (Wednesday). For now, I’ll tell you that if I can catch 17-20 pounds on Day 1, I should be in contention. I think somebody might have 30 pounds, but 17-20 will keep me in the hunt with a couple of days left to catch up.
Rough weather on Friday will be challenging, but as long as conditions are not unsafe, we’ll be out there battling. It might make it tough for spectators on the water, but the coverage on Bassmaster.com is almost as good as being there. Please don’t take any unnecessary chances.
Jason Christie and I are staying at a condo on Lake Conroe. The view from the balcony is fantastic, and if I were to drop a penny off the edge, it would land in the water. Classic rules allow us to stay at the host hotel or somewhere near the fishery. The hotel is nice, but this is more secluded, more private, and it’s easier to work on my tackle out here than in downtown Houston.
On the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods side of things, my wife is preparing our Edwin Evers Pecans booth, and I know it’s going to look great. If you’re coming to the Expo, be sure to stop by. Not only can you buy some of the world’s tastiest pecans (I’m admittedly biased), but you can also register for some great prizes — like one of my tournament jerseys, a Pelican cooler and more.
I’m also excited that my friend Andy Vallombroso of Andy’s Custom Bass Lures will have a Classic booth for the first time. Andy made the jig I used to win the 2016 Classic, and he’ll have a lot of his terrific baits on display and for sale.
I’m writing this Monday night. Tuesday is full of meetings and B.A.S.S. media. Wednesday is our last practice day, and Thursday is Media Day. It’s exciting and exhausting all at once. I’m proud to be here as the defending Classic champion, and I’m enjoying every second of the time I get to spend with family, friends, fans and my fellow competitors … but I’m anxious to get started.
I want to win another Classic. One was not enough.