Casey Ashley (Donalds, S.C.) Practice went pretty well for me but the weather has been unstable and that hurt my game plan. I'll fish deep in the morning (Friday) but I'm not real confident about that. The fish came in and then went back out — somewhat. They're dormant, somewhere in between, and I've got to figure out how to make them bite.
I've got a few spots I'm going to start with tomorrow morning. That'll tell me what I've got to do for the rest of the day. I really don't know what the fish are doing. They want to go shallow but the weather won't let them. I'll be changing and adjusting most of the day I think.
In my opinion it's anybody's ballgame. I originally said it would take 60 pounds to win but now I think 15 or 16 pounds a day will do it. I hope they're mine. Regardless, I'm fishing to win. It'll be hero or zero for Ashley!
Jamie Laiche (Gonzales, La.) My practice went OK but I'm not sure about the quality. I got a lot of bites but didn't set the hook on most of them so I can't be sure they're big enough. I feel like I should have enough fish to make the cut on Saturday. And, if I get a big bite or two I could be in the hunt come Sunday.
My style of fishing has always been to get five fish and then cull up. I'll do the same thing here. I know everybody says that no one remembers second place in a Classic and so they don't play it that way. They go for broke.
But five fish and then upgrade is the style of fishing that got me here and that's what I'm going with — win, lose, or draw. I'll dance with the one that brought me.
Chris Loftus (Bloomfield, N.Y.) I concentrated on one section of the lake in practice and found three areas that produced for me. I had a pretty good sack on Wednesday and overall I feel pretty good. I'm going to stick with what I know. I'll probably only throw one lure during the entire tournament, at least that's my plan right now.
I know that's pretty basic but that's what I'm going to do. It seems like every Federation guy who's done well did so because he kept things simple. That's my plan. I don't have a lot of pressure on me and I'm going to use that to my advantage. I'm going to relax and try to catch bass the way I know how.
My first goal is to make the cut on Saturday evening. You can't do anything if you're not there on the last day.
Clark Reehm (Russellville, Ark.) I've tried the herring pattern — that's where the bass ambush blueback herring in shallow water during the night and very early in the morning and you catch them shallow while they're doing that — but it hasn't worked for me. I just can't get on it so I'm going to make a milk run tomorrow.
I'll hit upwards of 100 places with no more than five casts on each one. I have over 300 waypoints marked from practice so I should have plenty of spots to fish regardless of what the other guys do. I expect to run a full tank of gas out of my boat tomorrow and will probably put more hours on the big motor than on my electric. I told my observer to dress warm and hang on tight.
I feel that's the only way I can get the bites I need — maybe one or two fish at the most per spot. But my spots are comfort zone type places that'll replenish pretty quick so I should be OK numbers wise. I'm thinking once I catch one I can go back to that spot later and maybe catch another one. The question is will they be big enough to win?
Fred Roumbanis (Bixby, Okla.) I've got three spots that are giving me the right bites. If I can get five bites each day I honestly feel I can win this thing. I found them in practice but I may have made a big mistake. I came back to them just to make sure. My fish were still there and that makes me fell confident but I wish now I hadn't done that. I hope I didn't catch my fish early.
I'm going to fish my strengths but in places I don't usually fish. Those places are where the better bass are and that's where I've got to fish even if it's different than what I usually fish. What other choice do I have?
I know of places I can catch five fish that'll weigh maybe 10 pounds at the most but why do I want to catch them? This is the Bassmaster Classic. I've wanted to fish this, and win it, all my life. And that's what I'm here to do — win, not place. If I go down it'll be swinging.
Matt Sphar (Pavilion, N.Y.) The weather isn't what I wanted and my head hasn't been right lately to be honest with you. I'm trying to adjust but it's been difficult and disappointing. The bites in my area of the lake are tough and that doesn't help. But on the positive side most of my fish have been good, quality ones. If I can get five bites a day I should be in contention.
But to be honest it's not playing out the way I wanted it to. The fish are moving so maybe things will work out. Most of the guys are saying the winner hasn't found his fish yet. I agree with that. At least I hope that's right because I haven't found all of mine yet.
My game plan is to get my head right tonight (Thursday) and go out tomorrow and just put my head down and fish. That's all I can do. It's what got me here so I've got to believe it'll work again.