Classic decisions

GREENVILLE, S.C. — If winning the Bassmaster Classic is all about making the right decisions, then there are two anglers who have basically defined this event.

One is Jeff Kriet, who jumped from 23rd place on Day One to fifth place on Day Two. The other is Terry Scroggins, who fell from fourth place on Day One to 22nd place on Day Two.

It's as if these two anglers are playing on opposite ends of a trampoline: They certainly illustrate the up-and-down nature of making adjustments, at least when they work, like in Kriet's case, and when they don't, as in Scroggins' case.

When it comes to winning the Classic, it's those bounces that either make or break you. Those who finish the day on the topside of the bounce win. It's that simple. For those two anglers, they made tournament-altering decisions on Day Two. The results were profound.

"In the Classic, every decision you make is critical,'' Kevin VanDam said. "Knowing how to make adustments is critical. And it starts in practice and it stays critical to the very last minute of the last day."

VanDam should know. He's won two of these titles. But there's not a Classic champion out there who wouldn't say the same thing.

Unfortunately for Scroggins, he may have cost himself the chance to say that at next year's Classic. But it's a statement Kriet could be making.

"There are so many ways that you can catch fish on this lake,'' Kriet said. "But you can't always catch them any way you want."

Kriet spent Day One fishing shallow around docks, believing the cloudy, nasty weather was better suited for that.

"I thought I could catch 14 to 16 pounds doing that,'' he said.

If not for a lost fish on Day One, he would have been right.

Meanwhile, Scroggins was fishing 30- to 40-feet deep and wacking 19 pounds, 3 ounces. He went into Day Two thinking that with the sunshine, his bite would just get better. It never materialized. As a matter of fact, the fish he was catching were suspended 20 feet off the bottom.

"I just couldn't make them bite,'' Scroggins said. "And I kept living in the past. I should have left. I didn't."

Kriet, on the other hand, made a big adjustment. He left the shallow bite and started fishing in the 25- to 50-foot range, and smoked them. His weight was the heaviest of the day.

"That was the best thing I could do,'' Kriet said. "I started to do that yesterday. I went to my best deepwater stuff, made a cast and while it was falling, decided that wasn't the thing to do. So I reeled in real fast and left."

No one can know if that was a bad decision or not. At least not yet. Kriet, despite being in fifth place, is as much in the driver's seat as any angler in the top five. And within the fickle (call it bouncy), world of making decisions during bass tournaments, anything can happen.

But the guy who wins will follow a path similar to Kriet's on Day Two.