OTTAWA, Ontario — Charles Sim, 43, has the double distinction of being the first Bassmaster Classic qualifier from the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation and only the second Canadian to qualify for a Classic.
“It goes without saying that making the Classic is a dream come true,” Sim said. “It is the pinnacle of everything. It’s doubly overwhelming that I am only the second Canadian to ever make it.”
The first Canadian was Hank Gibson, who earned a Classic berth in 1990 by competing in Bassmaster Invitationals.
The Ottawa Valley South Bassmasters club member said he expects plenty of fan support when he competes in the 2016 Classic.
“I’ve heard from possibly a couple hundred friends in the angling community in Canada who are making the trip down to experience the Classic and support me,” he said. “There is even a group organizing a charter bus to make the 23-hour drive to the Classic.”
“The Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation has gotten behind me so much, being the first Canadian in a while,” said Sim, a computer programmer for the Canadian government. “I almost feel like I am really representing them and I really want to do well for them.
“I really feel like all of the anglers of the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation are behind me and other Nations, too. I made some good friendships at the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, so I know now I have guys from Florida, Colorado and Kentucky who are pulling for me.”
Although he has never fished the Classic waters of Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, Sim was a Classic spectator for the first time at the 2013 event on Grand.
“I know the road from Tulsa to Grove,” said Sim, who didn’t see much of the lake then. “I have watched that 2013 Classic show over and over again.”
Sim is preparing for the Classic by researching the lake and gathering information from a close friend who has fished Grand before.
“It is overwhelming when you get on a body of water that size that you have never seen before,” Sim said.
The Canadian angler discloses the biggest hurdle he will face is fishing for winter or prespawn bass because Canada’s bass season is closed until after the spawn.
“It is going to be a totally new experience for me,” said Sim, who has briefly fished the prespawn on United States waters. “I definitely feel like I am behind the eight ball there.”
Despite his unfamiliarity with Grand Lake and its seasonal patterns, Sim says he believes he will be able to do well fishing his strengths during the Classic.
“We do a lot of jerkbaiting up here for smallmouth bass, so I think the jerkbait is going to come into play as it did the last Classic there,” he said. “Around home, the tube jig is always my fallback. I will always have it, and the fish eat it everywhere, so it is something the fish might not see as much at Grand.”
Sim’s long journey to the Classic began in 1999 when he joined the Ottawa Valley club. Since then, he has been a three-time Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation Angler of the Year, qualified for five B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisionals and competed in the 2015 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, where he earned his Classic berth as the Northern Division representative. He also competed in the Bassmaster Northern Opens in 2009 and fished two seasons of the FLW Tour in 2009 and 2011.
The club angler says he believes his Nation experiences will help him stay relaxed during the Classic.
“The Nation or club events are a little less pressure, so I will be going into the Classic with a little more of a fun attitude to enjoy the event,” he said.
“As much as I am competing at the Classic, I am going to make an honest effort to sit back and enjoy the experience as well. I don’t want to get to the end of it and not remember any of it because I was so focused on the competition.”