Few people on the planet live, eat, and bring more hilarity to professional bass fishing than Mark Zona. And he was kind enough to pull up a seat on a Tennessee River boat dock amid an insanely busy Classic week schedule to talk top storylines, what anglers might win, and even how he plans to dress for the Night of Champions banquet.
Q: Tell us what you think the top storylines are at this Classic.
Zona: “Will we break the all-time record for fan attendance?” – and I’ll tell you I think the answer is 110% yes! Secondly, “Will this be a mixed species fiesta?” – I think yes, but the wildcard here is whether or not somebody can ignore the smallies and try to win on all largemouth. And then lastly, “You better catch ‘em on Friday and Saturday!” – I’m not Jim Cantore or Reynolds Wolf from The Weather Channel, but I’m pretty dang certain Sunday will bring tougher-than-nails, post frontal weather. So you’d better catch ‘em good on Friday and Saturday.
Q: Tell us the names of three anglers not named Wesley Strader, Ott DeFoe or Brandon Lester – all locals – that you’d strongly advise fans to have on their Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing Team.
Zona: Jason Christie, Seth Feider and Chris Zaldain.
Q: Lastly, what three pieces of Carhartt gear did you pack for your trip here to East Tennessee?
Zona: Well, I mean let’s start with the obvious. The Gilliam Vest I’m wearing is a core part of my gig, man. (laughs). And then I never leave home without my lightweight camo shooting gloves in case I have to shoot sporting clays, chop wood, or it just gets cold and raw while we’re here. And then lastly, these Carhartt jeans, which I plan to wear to the semi-formal Night of Champions banquet, just to see if I get yelled at by my bosses for being underdressed.