Bassmaster Classic — I Came, I Saw, I Conquered

In the bass fishing world the much anticipated Bassmaster Classic was held in my neck of the woods two weekends ago. That blog entry was to be the first post on my site using more technology than I apparently know.

Hello, my name is Cindy. I am not tech adept.

For your amusement you may read about my struggles here. But I’m a survivor and by gosh this entry is gonna happen. Right here, right now. So, like I said, the BASSMASTER CLASSIC came to town:

The biggest tournament of bass fishing! The world championship of bass fishing! The Super Bowl of bass fishing! What I don’t get is, why is it the first tournament of the season? Championships are the last games to be played. In the bass world, anglers fish tourneys and earn points during the prior year. Those skilled few who earn enough points get to fish the first tourney of the next year’s season. There could be more to it…but I’ll never be in that company so the particulars do not matter much to me. What matters is the Classic came back to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees only three years after it’s first appearance here. Unheard of. Kelly and I didn’t get on the water in 2013…because it was freezing and miserable and we had no problem wussing out. We did go to the Bassmaster Expo and one of the weigh-ins though. This year we wanted to do it all baby!

Real quick:

  • The tournament is three days.
  • Each angler can have a maximum of five fish. You can cull…throw back a lesser weight fish if you already have your five and catch a bigger one after that.
  • Weight totals are cumulative. Only the top 25 anglers with the most weight after Day Two go on to fish Day Three.

Here is our weekend in pictures…..

The event started out at home. We weren't sure of about tournament etiquette....can we fish the lake too?? We decided that we could not be on any lake and not have our gear ready to go. Just wouldn't be right.
The event started out at home. We weren’t sure about tournament etiquette….can we fish the lake too?? We decided that we could not be on any lake and not have our gear ready to go. Just wouldn’t be right. These are a few of my poles. Yes…I have my own rods (poles) and reels and tackle and lures and plastics.

Shortly before this pic was snapped our convo went like this:

Kel: You want me to put your poles away best wife in the world?
Me:  Nope. I’m good.
Kel:  I’m already up here. I can do it for you love of my life.
Me:  Nope. I’m gonna take a pic of my poles cuz I’m gonna blog about our weekend.
Kel (eyes rolling):  Here…(as he pulls out a couple of broken rod tips)….blog about THIS.

He’s sooo funnnnny. Just because some broke rod tips came out of my rod storage box doesn’t mean I broke the poles. If there are no pictures, it didn’t happen. These are words to live by folks.

boat is ready
There she is! All ready to go. We love our boat! Nitro Z8 with a Merc 250.

gasing up
Day One.  Up at 4am Friday morning. Ugh! The launch…..where 55 of the top anglers speed off to all areas of the lake at one time…occurs at 7am and we intend to be there.

time and temp
What to wear?
Me: tank top, tee shirt, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, fleece jacket, wind jacket, hat, neck gator, gloves, jeans, socks, tennis shoes.
Kelly: long sleeve lightweight shirt with sleeves rolled up, shorts, hoodie, boat shoes, and at the last minute, wind pants.
Now, look at the temp in this pic and I ask you….who came prepared?

launch2Nothing like the sun in your eyes when trying to take pictures while standing on a rocking boat. And someone needs to figure out how to actually see the viewing screen on a camera when you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. But here they come! We stayed back from the launch site and were in open water.

launch closeup
You never see boats this close together under normal situations. You shouldn’t anyways. And these boys don’t much care that you are on the lake too. They’ve got someplace to be. They are going at least 55-60 mph. (Correction per my husband…70+ freaking mph!)

pro wizzing by
Here’s a pro whizzing on by. He is haulin’.

(This is where my first ever video clip was inserted with my first try at this post. It was going to show you real action man. I was able to increase my max upload file space from 2M to 64M when I could get into the code. But since all of that is still out in la-la land and I have to use the easy method for now, I cannot insert it because my file is 11M).  🙁

trolling into a coveBecause the pros are driving like mad men to their fishing spots, its safest to sit back and let them pass before you take off to follow them. That’s when Kel and I asked each other, “Where do we go?” Grand is a huge lake! So we just pulled in to the first cove we came to and saw all these people. Surely there was a famous angler fishing back in there. And there was……

jcThis is Jason Christie. He led the pack for most of the tournament. He’s in that boat way in the background that you can hardly make out. It’s tournament etiquette to stay back a good distance from the pro so that he can actually fish. Everyone has sonars on their boats that emit pings (think Hunt for Red October). We are supposed to turn them off so the fish don’t say, “What the hell is going on here?” Speaking of Jason…..

jason's disciplesHis groupie population grew as the day went on. That’s him to the far right. At least 30 boats are following him.

kvd
Here is KVD…Kevin VanDam….a 4-time Bassmaster Classic champion. Only one other angler can claim that fame. His fishing tips are gospel to me. Not today though. Kev did not do well at this tournament. He did not qualify for Day Three. But he’ll always be my fav.

kelly
We did fish some. There were at least a thousand bass boats on the lake causing ocean-like wave action. It was nice to break away from all of that and find a nice quiet spot to enjoy calm water and the beautiful weather. It was an amazing and fun day.

bassmaster expo sign
Day Two. The Bassmaster Expo. It is absolutely crazy how many people attend this expo. About fish. Bass fish. Largemouth bass specifically. It’s nuts. And we’re nuts too.

expo people
See what I mean? This is just one exhibition hall. There were three…or four?? I lost track. How we left this treasure trove of our fishing dreams without spending a cent is a mystery to us both.

skeeter boat
Boats, boats, and more boats. Metallic blue is our thing. A $70,070 price tag is not our thing. And this is not the most expensive boat here.

resize mark zona
These guys are at the Expo but are broadcasting live by watching video feeds on several large screens out of view on this pic. Nearly all of the pros have a camera man on their boat who have to constantly be videoing because you never know when a fish bites. I can’t image how exhausting that would be. There is a control room somewhere that decides what videos these three guys see. As they watch the feeds they talk about whats going on. All of this is what will be televised in a couple of weeks. The center guy is Mark Zona. I love him…I smiled and waved like the goofy fan that I am.

build a bait
Oh how I could spend hours right here. Hours. All the pros say to switch it up. Try something the fish aren’t used to seeing. I wonder how many of them shop at Hobby Lobby for tackle supplies.

bass wheels
And oh how I want these wheels. See the bass cutouts? Technically these are made for a boat brand called Bass Cat. But I really do not care about that.

bok people
This is the BOK Center where the official weigh-ins occur. The pros have to be back to the place where they launched by a certain time each day. They’ll trailer their boats and head on down the road to the BOK. I took this pic at 2pm. The doors do not open until 3:15. The weigh-in does not start until 5ish. All the entrances were like this. You have to get in line early because thousands of people attend and every day people will be turned away because the arena is at capacity. Pretty arena isn’t it?!

weigh in
Total madness! The pro will be sitting or standing in his boat while someone drives him around the floor…starting and ending at the stage you see on the left. See the boat on the right? When he gets back to the stage, the pro will open his live wells and pull out his two biggest fish and wave them around for the adoring fans to see. The crowd goes crazy. Then he pulls out all the fish he caught and they get weighed on the stage.
I have to confess….after walking ten miles at the Expo and both of our fitbits were doing the happy dance, we chose not attend a weigh-in this year. This is why: Last year, like everyone else there, we went crazy watching the first 5 anglers circle the arena, pull out their fish, see the official weight, listen to the host interview the angler, and listen to the list of sponsers the angler has to acknowledge. With the next 5 anglers….it was really cool. The next 5 anglers….we realized this same scenario was going to play out 35 times more and so we left early. This year, we decided it was a been-there-done-that scenario for us. We went to El Guapos for Mexican food and margaritas instead.

edwin evers
Day Three. Sunday for us was spent at home watching the Bassmaster Live app on the computer. Who won? Oklahoma son Edwin Evers from Talala, just up the road from us. He caught an incredible 29 lbs, 3 ozs. Remember, this is a total weight of FIVE fish. His 3-day total was 60 lbs, 7 ozs, for 14 fish total. Jason Christie, an Oklahoma son too, had it in the bag until Edwin hit the ball out of the park. Not a bad way to earn a $300,000 paycheck.

In case you were wondering what happens to the fish I’ll tell you. They stay in the angler’s live wells (on the boat) for the trip from the lake to the weigh-in. The live wells are filled with lake water and have aerators that keep the water oxygenated. An additive is probably added that helps keep the skin healthy. After the official weighing, the fish are immediately put into a tank. At the end of each day the fish are taken back to the lake and released. I know by the end of day Saturday there was a 100% survival rate. We’re all sportsmen and sportswomen; we want what is best for the fish.

There you go! Bass fishing may be something you’ve never thought would ever enter your mind but someone somewhere is going to mention the sport and you my friend will have a tidbit or two to add just like you know what you’re talking about. ha!

Thanks for reading!

Cindy