NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Albert Collins, 50, hopes his second trip to the Bassmaster Classic has a better ending than his first one.
The Texas angler qualified for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake by winning the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship. However, his first Classic appearance at Grand ended in disappointment.
“I didn’t do too well,” said Collins, who finished 48th out of 53 contenders.
Achieving his longtime goal of winning the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship (BNC) last year earned Collins his second trip to the Classic and a chance to redeem himself at Grand Lake.
“It is one of my highest accomplishments in my fishing career,” Collins said of winning the BNC. “It’s a goal I’ve had set since joining the Nation. I have been real close two or three times being right there in striking distance. Winning that tournament is not easy.”
The BNC champ has been fishing in independent clubs ever since he was a kid, but there was never a B.A.S.S. Nation club in his area to join, so he and a friend started the Nacogdoches Bass Club.
“It was a good move,” said Collins, who now has qualified for five Central Divisionals and four B.A.S.S. Nation Championships.
As the only Nation angler with previous Classic experience, Collins said he believes he might have an advantage over the other Nation Classic qualifiers.
“I can’t say that I was overwhelmed when I got there before, but it definitely works on your mind,” Collins said of his first Classic trip. “You get to thinking that you are really at the Classic and it is a different deal. You definitely have to have a different frame of mind than about a lot of other tournaments.
“I think I will be a little more laid back as far as the excitement of it goes.”
Competing against the best of the Elite Series won’t rattle Collins because he has faced them before in the 2013 Classic and in Bassmaster Opens.
“I do understand that I am fishing against those guys, but I am not really fishing against those guys,” he said. “I am fishing against the fish and if I can figure out how to catch them than those guys have to figure out how to beat me. That’s the way I have always looked at it, and I don’t look at the Classic as any different.
“You still have to go catch fish.”
Supporting Collins at the Classic will be his wife, Amanda Boozer, as well as his mom, sister and several friends. He plans on hoisting the Classic trophy in front of them.
“I am fishing 100 percent to try to win,” Collins said. “I am going to be fishing for first place. I don’t go into any tournament thinking I just want to do well. Every tournament I have ever fished in my life, I have fished for first place.”
The only times Collins has been on Grand Lake was pre-fishing and fishing the Classic in 2013 and pre-fishing for this year’s Classic.
“I was there eight or nine days a couple of weeks before we went off limits this year,” he said. “I can’t tell you what Grand is going to be like this time because the lake was coming up and going down so much.”
“I might be able to fish some of my strengths better in this tournament than the last Classic,” Collins said. “We could have the opportunity to be flipping trees and stuff like that rather than fishing open water and suspended fish.”
While Grand might fish differently than in 2013, Collins said he believes he will be better prepared for this Classic because of the experience he has gained from fishing unfamiliar waters in Nation divisionals and the B.A.S.S. Nation Championships.