5 things to watch for Saturday

ANDERSON, S.C. – No two days are the same at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. So how will Saturday differ from Friday? Here’s one pundit’s perception of a few things to watch on Day 2.

Morning Glory

The biggest difference between the Bassmaster Classic’s first and second days will be the amount of fishing time – and a regularly scheduled takeoff that will allow anglers access to the critical early-morning bite.

Friday’s fishing was cut short by a weather delay, a safety precaution announced Thursday afternoon when weather forecasters called for single-digit temperatures at Friday’s takeoff. That left anglers with six hours to fish instead of eight, and the contenders missed what’s generally considered the best part of the day to fish.

Sure, it was cold Friday, and you might think that would preclude an early-morning bite. But numerous anglers have talked about an early bite during practice despite frigid conditions.

You’d almost need a calculator to count the anglers who uttered the words “short day” at Friday’s weigh-in.

Several anglers near the top of the leaderboard, including local favorite Casey Ashley from nearby Donalds, S.C., put limits in the boat early during Friday’s abbreviated tournament day. Could they have found limits even sooner if weather conditions hadn’t shortened the day? And what about the anglers who struggled early? Would their fortunes have turned out differently with an opportunity for an early bite?

The availability of the early bite – and a full tournament day – will make a huge difference Saturday.

Weather Or Not

Weather always plays a critical role in bass fishing, but after the coldest day in Bassmaster Classic history, we have to consider this factor on Day Two.

Friday was a brutal day to go fishing, the kind of day when even the most ardent anglers choose to stay at home. It won’t be as cold Saturday, and that could make a difference on multiple levels. The forecast also calls for substantial cloud cover, which affects fish behavior.

A slow warming trend has begun in South Carolina’s Upcountry, but the forecast is still frigid for Saturday. But there’s a noticeable difference between 10 degrees at scheduled takeoff and 26 degrees, which is the predicted temperature for 7 a.m. Saturday. Saturday’s forecast high temperature is 47 degrees, and hourly forecasts predict temperatures to rise above freezing by 10 a.m.

That means anglers won’t face the equipment problems they did Friday. Ice on line guides and rod tips won’t be a factor (at least not after the first couple of hours), and every piece of the anglers’ equipment should function better with above-freezing temperatures.

There’s also a mental factor to consider. Frigid temperatures take their toll on an angler’s mind as well as his body. Warmer temperatures should mean sharper minds Saturday.

Watch the Watchers

Spectator boats generally become a factor at the Bassmaster Classic, and despite the chilly conditions Friday, there were surprisingly quite a few fervent bass fans who braved the cold to watch their favorite anglers.

With warmer temperatures and more fans off work for the weekend, expect spectator traffic to increase Saturday. The manner in which anglers contend with the presence of boats – from maneuvering through traffic when relocating to keeping a positive mindset in the presence of distractions – can play a big role in Classic competition.

Moving Day

We’re surprised every year when an angler climbs out of the standings cellar and into contention for a Classic crown. We shouldn’t be; it happens all the time.

B.A.S.S. Nation angler Paul Mueller was the (almost) zero to hero last year at Guntersville, finishing near the bottom of the standings on Day One and nearly winning the Classic on Day Three.

You can count on someone making a big move Saturday. Who’s it going to be this time?

Two-Timers?

If you wanted star power at the Classic, you got it Friday. Four previous Classic champions are in the top 10: Skeet Reese, 2009 Classic champion, is second with 20-2; Randy Howell, 2014 Classic champion, is fifth at 15-5; Takahiro Omori, 2004 Classic champion, is seventh at 15-0; and Mike Iaconelli, the 2003 champion, is ninth with 14-7. (Just out of the top 10 in 12th place is 2012 Classic winner Chris Lane.)

 

Every contender is hungry for a Classic title, but those who’ve tasted it before want a second helping. And those previous winners have already demonstrated they know what it takes to win on bass fishing’s biggest stage.