Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brent Chapman hasn’t competed in an Open-level event in years. But last weekend the pro from Lake Quivira, Kan., arrived in Texas to practice for the Feb. 9-11 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on Lake Lewisville.
Chapman said he’s back in the Opens for at least three reasons:
1) To try for a 2013 Bassmaster Classic berth:
Chapman wants to be like Chris Lane. Last month Lane, also an Elite pro, nailed a 2013 Classic spot by winning the first Southern Open of the 2012 season. There’s another 2013 Classic seat at stake at Lake Lewisville.
Chapman was among the last Elite anglers to claim a Classic seat for 2012. After experiencing what it’s like to teeter for weeks on the edge of Classic qualification, Chapman said he wants to do all he can to avoid that pain again.
“I’m tickled to death to be in this year’s Classic, but it wasn’t the prettiest of performances to get there,” he said.
2) To work the kinks out:
Chapman said he has not competed since June, when the 2011 Elite season wrapped up. “It will be nice to have a tournament under my belt, get back into a routine, instead of going straight into the Classic,” he said. Tournament time also serves as a realistic break-in test of his new boat rig.
After the Lewisville competition, he plans to stay with relatives in the Dallas area for a few days and rest up before he heads south to Louisiana for the Feb. 17-19 Classic practice period.
3) To fish with his father:
Ron Chapman is entered as a co-angler in the Lewisville event. “My dad and I don’t get to fish together much anymore,” he said. “Here we can practice together.” (Who a pro has in his boat as a co-angler on competition days is determined by random draw.)
Mark Tucker won the Lake Lewisville Open last season with 45-15 over three days. VanDam won in 2005 on Lewisville with a four-day total of 58 pounds, 12 ounces, including an 11-pound, 13-ounce largemouth that set a lake record at the time. Chapman doesn’t expect the weights this year to be in tune with either of those past events.
“If we set any records, it will be low-weight records,” he said after more than a day of practice that produced few fish.
“Quite a front came through last week with a lot of rain,” he related. “I hear the lake came up 5 feet. That tends to scatter out the fish. That, along with cold, muddy water, makes for a pretty tough tournament.”
He took a stab at a winning-weight guess of “around 40 pounds” over three days.
“I’d gladly take that,” he said.
Whatever the outcome, “This will get me in the right frame of mind for the Classic,” he said. “This is setting up to ‘fish small,’ and the Red River in the Classic can be that way, too.”