The first Bassmaster Classic I can really remember was the 2007 one on Lay Lake, here in Alabama. I’m sure I saw parts of earlier ones on TV or on the internet, but I honestly can’t remember much about them. It’s 2007 that sticks in my head. It was a real experience for me, one that’s never gone away. And, I can tell you it never will go away.
I’d been seriously bass fishing for a while back then — I had an aluminum boat as early as when I was 13 or 14 years old — but I’d never seen a tournament like it. It wasn’t just the fishing. It was the whole experience. The celebration of everything was overwhelming.
We went on the last day. My mom got up that morning and drove two of my high-school friends and I to the launch ramp. None of us were old enough to drive, so she had to take us. That was no small task. We were at least an hour-and-a-half from the launch ramp.
We got there real early. We walked around and watched while the anglers put the finishing touches on their tackle. I was fascinated and excited. The takeoff was even more exciting. After they were out of sight we just stood there and looked around.
Mom let us stay there all day, and then all the way through the weigh-in and the trophy presentation to Boyd Duckett. I was awestruck. I’d never seen anything close to that kind of thing; certainly not at any fishing tournament I had ever seen.
Before I go any farther with my story, though, I want to say something about mom: Matt and I couldn’t have been any luckier to have a mother like her. She would do almost anything for her sons. We benefited from that — not only in our fishing careers but also in life in general. You’re the best, mom!
Anyway, let’s get back to 2007.
In the back of my mind I was already looking at a professional career. That day really stoked me towards that end. I don’t think very many days went by after that when I didn’t think about what I saw. It motivated me when things were going right, and when they weren’t. It was one of the greatest formative experiences I’ve ever had bass fishing.
I went to several other Classics after that in the years before I ever qualified to compete in one, but none of them were quite like that first one. It was special. It absolutely consumed me in my fishing life.
Now that I’ve won two I can say that I’ve seen the Classic from every direction possible. The spectator experience is really something. It’ll motivate you to do better, learn more and do whatever it takes to become a better tournament bass angler.
And, winning a Bassmaster Classic is an experience like no other. That feeling of holding the trophy on stage never goes away. It’s the achievement of a lifetime.