This is about as good a week as I’ve had in a long while. You know, when I left B.A.S.S., the one thing I missed the most was the Classic. There’s something about it that’s bigger than a fishing tournament. It’s a happening, and it couldn’t be a better happening for the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
This is my first one back. My emotions are simple but at the same time complicated. This is what I fish for and what this sport’s all about. I’m not nervous or tense. I’m not even excited. I’m relaxed. I’m happy. But that doesn’t mean I’m complacent.
I can’t say that making the Classic was a given for me over the years or that I just expected it to happen. At the same time, though, I did fish a lot of them — 15 to be exact. And after a while you sort of expect to be here. But that hasn’t happened since 2018, and it hurt more than I realized it would.
It would be nice to be able to say I’d won one, but I can’t. I always said that was the one thing I wanted to accomplish. The deal with this year isn’t about winning though. Sure, I want to win, but more importantly I want to be a part of things, to participate in the big event.
Mother Nature has made my experience even better. The first two days of practice saw fairly good weather. Yesterday was cool and rainy. Later in the week it’s supposed to warm up considerable and keep getting warmer through Sunday. That’s perfect weather for the anglers and for the fans. No one will have to fight the elements or worry about clothing.
And it’ll make for a Classic that’ll be won by a savvy angler. I’m thinking that the winning weight will be a record for a Classic on Lake Hartwell. That angler will have to make adjustments on all three days and probably during each day. What happened in the morning will mean little and what happened during practice even less.
That’s the way a tournament like this should fish. It shouldn’t be easy, and it shouldn’t be impossibly difficult. It should be a true test of the skills of all of us and force us to use our knowledge of bass behavior as conditions change.
Another good thing is my family will be arriving on Thursday to take in all the happenings. All of them have been to a Classic before except for my youngest daughter. This will be her first. I’m excited about that. I want everyone to share in the experience and to know what one of these things is like. By Sunday my family’s experience will be complete.
It’s a funny thing. I’m a serious angler, but this year it’s not about that. It’s about returning and appreciating everything. The bottom line is that I’m as happy as a little pig playing in the mud. And that won’t change regardless of how I fish.