Crochet undeterred by cold

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The reviews were definitely mixed concerning the value of Wednesday's final practice on Lake Hartwell before Friday's start of the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.

During registration Tuesday, there was talk among some anglers about not going out at all on a day when the wind picked up and the temperature didn't. But all 56 Classic qualifiers spent at least a few hours on the water Wednesday.

"Oh, yeah," said Gerald Swindle when asked if he considered staying in his hotel room. "I didn't go out until about 9:30. I can't get much done when it's this cold."

So at the end of the day, was he glad he ventured out?

"I'm neutral on that," Swindle said. "It wasn't positive or negative."

Chad Morgenthaler offered this less-than-enthusiastic review of his day: "I'm kind of glad I went."

Most of the talk centered on how much colder it's predicted to be at Friday's takeoff than it was during Wednesday's plenty-brutal conditions. The forecast calls for temperatures in single digits Friday morning.

"We've never fished in anything like that," said Chris Lane. "Any questions anybody has about any equipment will be answered Friday morning."

All personal fortitude questions will be answered as well.

"This tournament isn't going to be so much about the fishing," Brandon Lester said. "It's going to be about the guy who can stand (the weather). Seriously, it becomes a matter of mental toughness."

Then there was "The Cajun Baby," Cliff Crochet, with a whole new take on what's ahead. You'd think the southern Louisiana native be among the most likely to be affected by this record-breaking-cold Classic.

"The weather sucks, but I'm a grown-ass man," Crochet said with a smile. "I can handle it."

That wasn't the last bit of coon-ass weather philosophy that Crochet offered.

"If it's 4 (degrees) and cold or 30 and cold, cold is still cold," he said. "I've been hunting and fishing all my life. I can take it.

"I look at the weather this way – whether it's rain, wind, cold – I'm a grown-ass man, and this is the Bassmaster Classic."

Crochet managed to put another positive spin on the weather forecast, saying, "If it's 4 degrees or whatever, it's going to suck, but it's a lake-wide thing. It's not one area muddying up or mats getting blown away in one spot or water dropping out of an area."

Heck, Crochet can remain Mr. Positive about the unthinkable possibility of an angler falling in the lake during the Classic.

"It's dangerous, but this place is better to fall in because there will probably be a house a few hundred yards away," he said. "It's not like falling in at Okeechobee or Bull Shoals in cold weather, where there's no help for miles and miles."

When it was pointed out that temperatures don't fall into single digits at Florida's Lake Okeechobee, Crochet countered with the fact that it does drop into the 30s at times.

"That still puts you in the danger zone (for hypothermia)," he said. "The danger zone is the danger zone."

The danger zone for negative thinking stops at Cliff Crochet. No question about it.

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