This year’s GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods is starting to look really familiar. There’s a lot that reminds me of 2016 in Tulsa, Okla., when we were on Grand Lake.
For one, Lake Hartwell fishes quite a bit like Grand. It’s one of the reasons that the three Oklahomans in this championship — Jason Christie (currently in the lead), James Elam (fourth) and me (second) feel right at home.
For another, in 2016 Jason had the lead for the first two days, and I had to catch a big bag on Sunday to come from behind and win. He even posted the same weight on Day 1 of the two tournaments — 20 pounds, 14 ounces.
In 2016, I trailed Jason — who just happens to be a friend that I room with on the tournament trail — by 6-5. This time I trail by 4-11.
That deficit is something I can make up, but it’s going to be tough. At Grand I was able to catch 29-3 on the final day while Jason had his worst day of the championship. I’ll need a big swing like that if I’m going to win my second Classic this year.
I’m planning to do my part. I’ll give it everything I have out there and leave it all on the water. Win or lose, I won’t have any regrets.
And I’m going to have to change a few things to make up that deficit. The area I’ve been fishing has gotten a lot of pressure from other anglers, from the spectator boats and has been covered extensively in the media. I think it’s going to be crowded out there today, and that’s not the best scenario for me. Yesterday (Day 2), I was almost forced to fish behind a couple of Classic anglers who are shallow water masters. I don’t like doing that, and I won’t do that on Day 3.
But changing areas doesn’t mean starting over. I’ve had success in the area I plan to fish today. I think the fish there have been less pressured, and I think they give me the best chance to win.
I plan to concentrate on a channel swing that drops from 3 into 8 or 10 feet of water, and although I’ve caught bass on seven different lures at this Classic, I’ll probably use just four primary baits today: an Andy’s Custom Bass Lures Old School Jig, a vibrating jig, a wacky rigged Zoom Fluke Stick and a new crankbait from Megabass.
If I’m going to pull this one out, I need the day to flow better for me. I can’t find myself fishing behind other guys, and I need a good start.
You’ll know things are going pretty good for me if you check BASSTrakk around 11:00 and see that I have 16 or 17 pounds with one little 12-incher left to cull.
I’m going to end this column the same way I ended my column after Day 2 in 2016. I hope things work out the same way for me:
I’m not going down without a fight.