Trip Weldon knows both sides of competitive bass fishing. He's considered by many to be one of central Alabama's most talented bass anglers.
Weldon has fished Lay Lake for the past 20 years. And despite his new full-time job, he still finds time to occasionally compete on the lakes surrounding B.A.S.S. headquarters in Montgomery.
In 1996, his prediction that the world championship on Lay Lake would be won with a shallow water pattern came to fruition after George Cochran took the title in skinny water.
Weldon also knows the organizational side of competitive bass better than most.
Earlier this year, the Alabama native replaced Dewey Kendrick as the B.A.S.S. national tournament director.
So it seemed only fair to put Trip on the proverbial hot seat, and ask him to analyze what it will take to win the 2002 BASS Masters Classic on Lay Lake later this month.
Jigging through the grass
"Swimming a jig-and-trailer through shallow grassbeds is a very popular and productive pattern on Lay at times. When this pattern is on, anglers who are skilled at the technique are hard to beat anywhere on the Coosa River."
Flipping the grass
"Bud Pruitt caught the heaviest weight in 1996 on the final day by flipping shoreline grass. With all of the hot flippers and pitchers we have this year, this technique could be a winner, too."
Deep cranking and Carolina rigging
"I remember David Fritts telling me he had one of his best Classic pre-practices ever on Lay in 1996. That's a profound statement from the sport's premier deep-cranking specialist. The current was on then, but not strong enough during the competition to turn on the ledge fish. I'd like to see (strong current become a factor) this time. If it does, we'll see why Lay Lake is famous for its ledge fishing."
"It'll be interesting to see how experts like Aaron Martens do on Lay with its abundant population of schooling spotted bass. Wherever those guys go, they figure out how to catch quality spots. It's not uncommon to see five spots weighing 15 to 18 pounds come from Lay. In the past, the Classic has been known to turn specialty techniques into the mainstream of bass fishing. This could be the time and the place for it to happen again."
"It may come down to a 'milk run' scenario, where the winner does several different things. Topwater can be good early, before the grassbed fish turn on. Later in the day, it might be a couple hours of ledge fishing out on the river. A guy known for being versatile will be a key factor in that case."