Panic element could play a role in Classic

During the days leading up to the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, many competitors said they were hoping the weather conditions would take a nasty turn to level the playing field a little on Lake Hartwell.

They may have said it too many times.

Or maybe a little too loud.

Various forecasts for Friday’s opening round are calling for morning temperatures between 5 and 15 degrees, meaning it could be the coldest day in Classic history – and some believe that could create an element of panic amongst the 56-angler field.

“It’s interesting how this weather is playing out, and I think it’ll make a lot of guys change when they really shouldn’t,” said David Kilgore, an Alabama angler who is making his second Classic appearance. “I think a lot of guys are going to panic when they probably don’t need to do anything a whole lot different than what they were already doing.”

Kilgore said the opening round is likely to be about survival, especially the first few hours of the event when the temperatures could be in the single digits. It has already been announced that the tournament will be delayed with the first flight leaving Green Pond Landing in Anderson, S.C., at 8:30 a.m.

“I think if guys will just have patience until the sun gets up, about 10 or 11 o’clock, the fish will start biting,” Kilgore said. “And then I think on Saturday and Sunday, they’ll bite like crazy. But it’ll all be a matter of mentally surviving those first few hours Friday morning when it seems like it’s going to be an impossible situation.

“I don’t think you’ll be able to win it tomorrow, but it’ll be one of those days when you can dang sure lose it.”

Virginia angler Jeff Lugar also believes there could be some panicking in the field – and he hopes he isn’t one of the ones panicking.

“This is my second Classic, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get back here,” said Lugar. “I know I’m susceptible to panicking because I really want to do well. I don’t want to blow any opportunities, so it wouldn’t be hard for me to panic. But I’m aware of that, so I going to try hard not to do that.”

Some anglers already seem to be writing off any potential shallow-water bite – and that’s welcomed news to those who still believe the tournament can be won shallow.

“Hopefully, they’ll keep thinking that,” Alabama angler Coby Carden said with a wry smile. “We’ll see. I fished shallow in practice (Wednesday), and there were still some fish there.”