Living by the Rules – By Bruce Callis – April 3,2017
The 2017 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Conroe presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is history. Jordan Lee secured his name in the history books by holding off hard charging Steve Kennedy and overcoming a lower unit issue that forced him to ditch all his plans and stick to one area, working it to perfection. Lee is no stranger to championship pressure, as he is a former Carhartt Bassmaster College Fishing Champion. But standing in 15th place entering the day, Jordan had what we all wish for, a huge bag on the final day. We can’t control what others catch, all we can do is Do Our Best! And Jordan did just that. What an accomplishment, winning the Classic as the 3rd youngest Champion in its history.
Steve Kennedy did his best on day 3, amassing a 5 limit bag of 21 pounds 15 ounces, coming up just shy by 1 pound 10 ounces from winning the big dance. The leader going into day 3 was Brent Ehrler, who managed to only amass 11 pounds 10 ounces for his 5 fish limit and finishing third.
The talk heading into the classic was filled with stories of huge bags. But while there were some big bags, the story was more how difficult it was to catch keeper bass. The minimum size limit on Conroe is 16’, making it very difficult to fill out a limit. On the first day, only half the field managed to do so, with 11 pounds being the lowest poundage, good for 31st place. Brent Ehrler had the biggest bag with 23 pounds 3 ounces. Nineteen anglers had 3 or less, with only 1 zero for the day. Day 2 had 30 anglers with 3 or less bass, with 6 anglers having no scorable bass. They caught bass, but were just short of the legal limit. Championship Sunday had 1`2 anglers with 3 or fewer fish and only 1 zero for the day.
I love the idea of big bags, but when we put anglers at a disadvantage by pushing the minimum size limit to 16 inches, I think we take away from the sport. When we take the best and put them in the biggest event of the year, do we really want to see them coming in and talking about how many fish they caught, but were too small to count on this lake? No, I want to see bass. I want to see that they struggled to find the big girls, but did manage to catch 5 keepers. I can’t see how having anglers with 1 or 2 bass for 2 days profits the sport. I don’t blame the anglers for that. I’ve had my days when I struggle, only catching 2 keeper bass during a tournament. Shouldn’t the classic be about showing everyone just how good anglers are or should be looking to see how they can struggle like the rest of us on waters that restrict the size of a legal bass? Or am I just looking at it all wrong?