Elites find Grand potential in 2013 Classic

Even the name — Grand Lake — is fitting for the possibilities that await the competitors in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.

GROVE, Okla. — Even the name Grand Lake is fitting for the possibilities that await the competitors in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.

The lake is the third largest in the state, but for some Elite anglers it’s the best the Sooner State has to offer.

“It’s definitely the best in Oklahoma,’’ Jeff Kriet said. “I’d say it’s at least in the top 20 lakes in the country.”

Kriet, along with a few other Elite professionals, were at Grand Lake last week for the Bass Zone Fish and Chips event. While none of them knew at that time that the Classic would be coming to the lake in 2013, they were all full of praise for a lake most people wouldn’t guess as a Classic venue.

The lake is farther north than the Classic has dared to travel since being held in February.

“There are a lot of factors in the early spring in this part of Oklahoma that makes fishing this lake interesting,’’ said Mark Jeffreys, owner of Bass Zone. “For starters, the wind always blows. One week you can be sweating and the next you could be fishing in a snow or ice storm. The weather always makes things interesting in this part of the world.”

Despite the weather, though, almost every angler polled believes that fishing on Grand Lake during any season of the year will produce hefty sacks. In the early spring, they could measure beyond hefty for a Classic.

“In late February/late March, it’s real good,’’ Kriet said. “It’s Katie-bar-the-door good. It’s got all the right stuff: big rocks, channel swings, deep water next to shallow and tons of bait. You can fish it shallow or fish it deep.

“It’s like Guntersville. You can find them on a drop and work on them. And these fish aren’t afraid to bite when it’s cold.

“You can catch 25 pounds a day and still not win.”

Mike McClelland, who won the first Elite Series event on Grand Lake in 2006, echoes Kriet’s sentiments.

“It’s definitely one of my all-time favorites,’’ he said. “I’ve won here (in 2006) and had a top 12 finish in the Elite the next year (on Grand Lake). But even without that, it’s just a special place where any day you are on the water you can catch a 20-pound bag doing whatever you want to do. There aren’t many places like that in the world.

“It has as many 3- to 4-pound fish in it as any lake in the Midwest. On this lake, you are going to get your string stretched just about every day.”

While the Elite field sees the potential for excellent fishing on Grand Lake, Fred Roumbanis ranks the lake higher for personal reasons.

“From a fishing standpoint, it’s in the better half of fisheries that we go to,’’ he said. “If you like junk fishing, this is the place. Put down your trolling motor and just take off. That suits my style.

“But I’m drawn to this lake for another reason — it was for a much bigger catch in my life.”

Roumbanis remembers missing the cut in an Elite Series event here after losing a 3-pound fish at the boat. With his head hung low, he spent that evening at a Lowrance dinner instead of preparing tackle for the next day.

“But it worked out for me,’’ he said. “If I had caught that fish, I would have never met my wife at that dinner. To me there’s something magical about this place.”