It could be decided on a last-second fish, one of those moments of “I knew it,” or “Never give up.” Or it could simply hinge on who best manages boat traffic.
Fans are expected to be on the water in force for the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, March 24-26. Lake Conroe, one of the smaller Classic fisheries of late at 21,000 acres, is developed with homes and docks on its lower end. It can get so rough, locals call it the Gulf of Conroe.
Greg Hackney, who was taking some batting practice with Mark Zona last week at Grosse Savanne in southern Louisiana, said he was hoping for the worst weather possible.
“The thing I think it would do is cut down on the boat traffic on the lake,” he said. “It won’t help me at all fishing-wise, but it might help me get around.”
Watching it on Bassmaster LIVE, rather than being there, is Hackney’s plea to fans, if not the desire of most all the competitors. Everyone in the industry would rather see the world’s championship decided by the anglers’ ability, not which one was unfortunate enough to have his area adversely affected by an outside influence. It’d be disgraceful if a fan fished behind a competitor and plucked off what might have been their winning fish.
“I don’t like to see anybody get bothered,” said Hackney, who in the most recent Elite event had a local angler fish alongside him in one of those “I-can-beat-the-pro” attempts. “The deal is the lake we are going to is all bulk-headed. It’s a mess when there’s a bunch of boats on it. The waves never dissipate. They just run into the bulkhead and run back out. If the (fish are) up there shallow, you don’t want that.”
The forecast for competition days is mild mornings around 60 degrees, with afternoon highs reaching around the 80s on Friday and Saturday. There is a chance of a thunderstorm or two early on Day 1, and a cold front will lower temps on Day 3 to around 65.
B.A.S.S. and the anglers are well aware it’s a public lake, but to have a fair competition, fans venturing onto the water need to be considerate. Think about if you were in that same situation – shooting for $300,000 – how you would want spectators to act?
Some pros are rather practiced at keeping a gallery under control, even directing them to help protect their spot. However, Lake Conroe is a pattern lake. Anglers more than likely will be on the move, but a spot they just fished might be returned to within minutes.
Boaters who do want to watch should be courteous and follow anglers’ instructions. It might help if there were enforcers, people who take a John Wayne “Pilgrim-you’re-not-doing-right” attitude toward anyone infringing on an angler’s efforts to win.
There’s always those who want to witness Classic history firsthand, but a better choice might be Bassmaster LIVE. It provides a view from the pros’ boats and even offers replays. LIVE airs from 7 to 10 a.m. CT each morning then 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.