GREENVILLE, S.C. – Near the conclusion of Thursday’s media day gathering, B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon took the stage and announced that the Day 1 launch at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic will be delayed.
“In consultation with public safety officials, we have decided to delay tomorrow’s start,” he said. “The Green Pond facility, including the boat launch, will not open until after daylight, which is approximately 7 am. We will try to have all the boats in the water and ready for take-off by 8:30. We praise the local officials for taking this extra precaution.”
In order to ensure that the playing field remains as level as possible, check-in times will be adjusted such that all anglers will get equal time on the water. There will be no impact on the weigh-in itself. The order of the take-off will be reversed on Saturday. The low Friday morning is expected to be 10 degrees.
While some anglers were disappointed to have their day shortened, they generally seemed supportive of the move.
“I’m only thinking about my fishing, but these guys are thinking about the health and safety of everyone out there,” said Jason Christie. “I’ve told several people that the worst case scenario for me is a shortened day. I’m not getting a lot of bites, but when I’m getting one it’s a good one.”
Chad Morgenthaler expressed similar feelings. “It’s not fast and furious out there. I’m boat number seven and I want to get out there, but it won’t make a gigantic difference to me throughout the day. At the same time, it could be the difference between getting five bites and getting three bites. It probably plays into the deep water guys’ hands.”
Kevin Short opined that as long as the time on the water is the same for everybody, he has no qualms with the change, especially if it comes down to a matter of safety. “It would be fine with me if we had a six hour day, period,” he said.
“Yesterday I didn’t have a Marshal,” Short continued. “I was way up a creek and hadn’t seen a boat in a couple of hours and I started to think about what might happen if I fell in. I have a complete change of clothes and a towel in the boat, but it’s pretty hard to get around to the back of the boat, get the ladder down and get in. I’ll be wearing my Mustang XL 100 at take-off, but then I’ll be changing into my Mustang inflatable the rest of the day. It might take me a few seconds longer to make a move, and stuff’s still going to be frozen, but otherwise it won’t make a whole lot of difference.”
Weldon said that the alteration to the schedule was made with a great deal of deliberation, and with substantial input from the emergency management officials in Anderson County. He will hold another conference call with relevant officials at 4 pm this afternoon, and if there’s a change in the forecast there might be subsequent adjustments.
“I don’t think this will change, but we need that call to reaffirm our decision,” he said. He added that he would prefer not to cancel a day in an event this important to the sport, and to so many anglers’ careers, but that he would not hesitate to do so if conditions dictated that outcome. If Friday’s competition day were to be canceled, the full field would fish on both Saturday and Sunday, instead of cutting to a reduced field after Saturday.
Bassmaster will continue to update this site if additional changes occur.