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Preppin’ for the Classic

I just spent a couple of days practicing for the Bassmaster Classic and filming a segment for Strike King’s TV show on Lake Guntersville.

I generally don’t like to practice a Classic lake prior to the off limits period because weather and conditions will change immensely between now and the third week of February.

However, I needed to look at the entire lake and see which areas have grass, the condition of the grass, how deep it’s growing and which areas have milfoil or hydrilla.

Guntersville has more grass now than I’ve seen in a long time which explains its healthy fish population. The few bass I caught while looking around were big and thick. It’s easy to understand why the weights on tournaments – a 5- to 7-pound fish average – are what they are this winter

I recall a biologist who said once that an acre of lake with milfoil can support 10 times more poundage of fish than an acre without it. When you consider Guntersville has thousands of acres of grass in creeks and bays and on lake humps and ridges, you understand why it has a healthy population of forage and gamefish.

However, weather over the next couple of months could change that, too. Really cold weather with heavy rains on a river system can decimate the grass and wash it out. If that happens, we won’t have enough warm conditions for it to grow by the time the Classic begins.

A mild winter with limited rain will allow the present grass to stand. Even though it’s died back now and not as lush, it will still be used by fish.

The biggest challenge for me is I know too much about the lake. I have fished there so many times and have memories of so many areas. There’s going to be more viable patterns working at this Classic and the fish can be won in any section of the lake.

I think that a contender may have to zone in on one technique and one pattern to win. He’ll have to fish for 7-8 quality bites and stay focused instead of fishing multiple patterns and locations.

But that’s the million dollar question at every Classic.

Because Guntersville is so full of diversity, habitat and quality bass, it’s one of the hardest lakes to game plan. It’s a big lake that fishes even bigger because of the grass.

We set a lot of records at the New Orleans Classic I won, but we really didn’t know what to expect there. We all know what’s going to happen at Guntersville – there will be huge sacks that could include some 10-pounders. Anyone in the field could win if they find the right area; none of the finalists will be out of it the last day because of the potential of catching a 40-pound bag.

I’ll be watching the weather and conditions before but won’t form a definite opinion of what I’ll do until the official practice begins.

Meanwhile, I’m in the preparation mode. I’ll be rigging a new boat that just came out of the plant, working on tackle and covering every minute detail.

This trip to Guntersville reenergized me. The Classic is what we look forward to each year, and this one is going to be special.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!