Those of you who have followed my career know that I often warn against fishing your history. It’s probably one of the biggest mistakes any angler can make. Conditions might look the same to you and me from one outing to the next, but most of the time the bass see it differently.
The last time we fished Grand Lake was back in 2013 for the Bassmaster Classic. I finished fourth with a legitimate chance to win despite the fact that I had serious trolling motor troubles and an unfortunate incident with a dog. Those things are unlikely to plague me this year.
My trolling motor is working perfectly. I don’t expect any lost fishing time this year because of it. And, I’ve worked hard at developing a much better relationship with the dogs of this world. I want to understand them, and I want them to understand me. I did that partly to make myself a better person and partly out of self-preservation. I can’t afford anymore fines for yelling at them. I have a wife and four kids to support.
So anyway, I had a really good trip out there in early December. I spent five days on the lake checking and double-checking what I learned about it back in 2013 and trying to develop more information about what it looks like under the water.
As is my custom, I spent 97 or 98 percent of my time at idle. It gets boring as the hours go by, but it’s the only way I know to learn. It’s not enough to know that there’s a point that drops off into the main lake. You have to know exactly how that point runs, how deep every foot of it is and where it drops off. My GPS screen looks like one massive waypoint.
I didn’t pay any attention to the bass. Sure, I noticed them if I saw them on my electronics, but I didn’t mark them and I didn’t try to fish for them. That kind of information is worthless. Things change between December and March.
The other thing I didn’t do was rehash anything I did during the last Classic. I mean I didn’t even think about it. Honestly, I didn’t.
In my entire career I’ve never — I mean not even once — been able to duplicate fish catching patterns or spots from one year to the next. It just doesn’t happen no matter how exact the conditions. If you expect to catch bass, and especially if you expect to catch winning weights at this level, you’d better fish the moment.
My one wish for the 2016 Classic is that the conditions are totally different from those of the 2013 Classic. I don’t care if the water’s clearer or muddier; I don’t care if it’s warmer or colder; and I could care less about rain, snow, sleet, wind, sun or clouds. As long as it’s different I’m good.
I’d love to launch for the first day of official practice without having a clue as to where to go or what to throw. That’s my idea of a pure Classic. It’s the true essence of professional bass fishing.