"I Want a Do-Over"

The only person who would not change anything about how he fished the 2008 Bassmaster Classic is Alton Jones, who won it with 49 pounds, 7 ounces. Practically everyone else who finished behind him would do something differently if he had the chance to fish Hartwell again.

Here's how the remainder of the top five finishers would alter their game plans:

Cliff Pace, 2nd place (44-5) — "I don't know of anything I could have done differently throughout the event that would have truly given me a better chance to win. I fished the conditions every day as I felt I had to, and I had the pattern but I just did not get the quality bites that Alton did. I did lose one fish the last day that would have helped me, but I don't think it would have been enough to win.

"I had shallow fish and deep fish, and I really believe they were the same fish. When they moved shallow to feed, I could catch them easily, but couldn't get anything deep. When they were deep, I couldn't get anything shallow. My shallow and deep areas were 300 to 400 yards apart, and because the bass were chasing herring, they covered that distance fast.

"On the third day, I believe the bass simply suspended out in the timber mid-way between shallow and deep water, and they just didn't bite well at all there."

Kevin VanDam, 3rd place (43-8) — "I wish after the first day I had completely left my pattern on the lower end of the lake, because it totally went away the second day. All during practice and on the first day of the tournament I was catching 20 or more pounds down there in the clear water.

"The second morning I fished there until 9:45 and never had a bite, so I ran up the river and caught fish there. Those fish never moved. The third day, I started on the lower lake again and fished until 9:30 and never got a bite, so I ran back up the river, caught a decent limit, then ran back down the lake because it was starting to cloud up again. When I got there, it was slick calm, and I never had a bite.

"I feel like those bass on the lower end moved out into the timber and suspended. I just wish I had started and finished up the river each day. On the second day I only fished up the river four hours and less than three hours on the last day. With a full day up there, I'm sure I could have done better."

Bobby Lane, 4th (42-7) — "The first thing I would have done differently would have been to check the condition of the small bass that later died before I could cull it on the last morning. It didn't cost me the tournament, but it did cost me because it only weighed 11 ounces, and I was penalized four ounces for bringing in a dead fish.

"I also wish I had run up the Tugaloo River and explored it more. I spent too much time looking around the dam for dingy water, when there was plenty of it up the river. Those fish were hitting a crankbait, too, and I think I could have had 16-17 pounds up there each day."

Greg Hackney, 5th (41-7) — "I would have spent more time looking for cover-oriented fish. In practice I found bass keying on bait, so that's where I concentrated. On the last day of the Classic, we didn't have any wind, and that's when I needed to fish cover, but I didn't know where any cover was.

"The last day was cloudy, but slick. I got the same number of bites each day, but the last day the bass really weren't committing. I should have looked for some boat dock fish, or something." 

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