The first day of the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods is in the books, and I have to admit that I had a better day than I anticipated. I’m in second place with 19 pounds, 9 ounces, a little less than a pound and a half behind Jason Christie.
The reason my weight was a little more than I expected was because I managed to get not one but two big bites. I had two bass that weighed 4-10, and that makes a big difference here.
Overall, I mixed things up quite a bit on Day 1. I worked both deep and shallow patterns for my fish. In one spot I caught a few bass early, including three that I took to the scales as part of my five-bass limit. I picked up my two biggest fish later in the day.
And speaking of mixing things up, I caught fish on six different baits Friday, which is a little unusual. During practice, I only caught bass on four baits, but — as you know — practice is very different. Sometimes you don't even throw a particular bait after you’ve located some fish in practice. You just leave them alone and wait to come back when it counts. Then, once the tournament starts, you try different things to zero-in on what’s going to work best.
With Jason Christie (Park Hill) in first, me (Talala) in second and James Elam (Tulsa) in sixth, the writers in the Media Center were talking about the “Oklahoma Mafia” and why we’re having success on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
It’s a great question, and I think the answer has something to do with the type of lake Hartwell is. It’s actually quite a bit like Grand Land o’ the Cherokees, where Jason and I both had strong finishes in 2016. Grand and Hartwell are both older reservoirs with plenty of deep, clear water and several tributaries where you can find some dingy water and shallow cover. They both have heavily developed shorelines with lots of boat docks. In quite a few places, you could just about blindfold an angler, drop him on one lake or the other and he might not be able to tell the difference right away.
In other words, Hartwell is a lot like the water that we Oklahomans fish at home. It’s not exactly a “home field advantage,” but it feels comfortable.
On Day 2, I need to keep pushing and hope I can get a few more big bites. With a field this strong, getting a couple of big bites each day will be critical if you’re going to have a chance to win. Not only that, but you’re also going to have to capitalize on them. Missing a good fish or two is all it takes to lose a tournament. And those misses are really magnified at the Classic.
We’re supposed to get some cloud cover on Day 2. That’s not something I’m excited about — I want to see the sun and get that water warming up — but I’m confident that I have fish somewhere that I can catch under those conditions. I’m still feeling really good about this tournament.
If I sound vague about things, it’s only because there are still two days to go and anything can happen between now and the final weigh-in. Saying the wrong thing — or saying anything at the wrong time — can come back to bite you.
I hope to give you a little more detail each day. After Sunday, I can tell you everything I’ve been doing to catch them at this year’s Classic.
I just hope it’ll be enough to win.