Wednesday, February 29, 2012

View of the Bassmaster Classic from Southern Open-Colored Glasses

This year I was able to attend the Bassmaster Classic and it was a great event and great to see Florida angler Chris Lane win.  But instead of viewing the event purely as a spectator, I actually had the feeling that I was taking a training class on how to act as a Classic angler.  You see, I am now fishing the Bassmaster Southern Opens, and each tournament I fish I will have a shot at winning an entry into the next Bassmaster Classic.
I watched the 2012 Classic anglers organize their equipment in their boats with the utmost efficiency.  In the Classic, time is extremely limited, so the better Classic contenders have learned not to waste one precious moment.  Disorganization can cost valuable time, maybe not the one time you have to search in your boat to find a bait, but add up all the times you had to search for baits in the tournament and it could mean the difference. 
I watched how the anglers expressed themselves, both with fans and when alone in their boats with their thoughts.  Focus was key, and even during press conferences each day I could see the top contenders processing and thinking about the words their fellow anglers were saying when questioned by the media. 
There are very few secrets in the Classic, and everyone knows what each angler is doing.  The media questions make the anglers reveal small pieces of information about the success each day.  Not enough information for the average angler to grasp, but enough tidbits for their competitors to pick up on.  For instance, I watched Alton Jones’s eye light up when day one leader Keith Poche answered media questions about his fishing area and how the bass were biting his baits.  While Keith never revealed the color or kind of baits he was using to take the lead on day one, he told enough to unknowingly help his competitors.  The next day Alton apparently used the information to his advantage and jumped up into 3rd place while Keith fell down the leaderboard.
I watched how the anglers managed spectator’s boats, who fished well in crowds of other anglers, and who ran away from the crowds to seek isolated fishing holes.  I learned first-hand in the Southern Opens that once you achieve a boat wrap, other anglers will follow you more, mark your fishing areas, and take notice of the lures you are using.  To excel at the level needed to fish professionally anglers have to be able to handle crowds and recognition.  

The message is clear, to be successful you must be able to use ordinary lures in magical ways, not rely on secret fishing hole or secret lures.  Understanding how bass react to presentations and lure techniques becomes the focus of Elite anglers.  Every one of the Bassmaster Classic anglers were using fishing rods, reels, lines, and lures that everyday anglers can purchase and use. 
The Bassmaster Classic is truly as sport where knowledge and experience win.