2020 Bassmaster Classic:
by Bruce Callis
The opening day of the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk in Birmingham, Alabama kicked off Wednesday night with the Elite Angler Dinner and continued Thursday morning with the official Media Day presented by Abu Garcia Berkley opening events at beautiful Regions Field where the press could meet the competing anglers and ask questions.
It kicked off with a delicious lunch where everyone was welcomed by Tommy Sanders, our emcee, with an opening video from Alabama Senator Doug Jones. It was followed by a short introduction by Convention & Vistors Bureau’ John Oro. Then the mayor of Guntersville, Leigh Dollar, and Birmington Mayor Randall Woodfin welcome us. Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S. then welcomed us and after a presentation from Abu Garcia & Berkley’ Jon Schlosser & Dave Mercer, Tommy Sanders had a few announcements and dismissed us to start interviewing the anglers.
With the rainy weather, the anglers’ boat were brought under the cover of the concourse around the stadium. This sounds simple, but was a lot more difficult then you could imagine. But, with some planning, everything went smoothly. Interviews are usually simple, with some making elaborate videos. And we all try to respect each other and not interfere with what they are doing. Sadly, sometimes even thou we try hard, we make a mistake. I’ll have to admit I did today. I looked hard and saw no camera running when I went to say hello to a friend. I apologized, for this is something I would never do. We joke and kid as reporters, but we all respect each other.
We asked for questions you wanted to ask the anglers and got a few. And we try our best to ask them. Sometimes it’s not that simple. What areas are you fishing? Have you found any good bass? How would you prepare if you weren’t able to prefish? What bait has been your most productive? What is your fall back comfort zone bait? These anglers are competing for more than just money, they are hoping to lift high that trophy that says they are the best, the Bassmaster Classic winner. Some are very tight lipped and talk about baits, but not necessarily the baits they plan to use. Others will tell you what bait they plan to use, but maybe not the color that has been working. You have to remember that some are parked side by side and they can all see what each has tied on.
Take Chris Zaldain, he was re-rigging is rods and spooling up new Seaguar line, but he was not tying on any lures that might give another angler a hint of what he was doing. While others, like Stetson Blaylock was respooling and changing hooks on some of his lures. The main thing you noticed up and do the line, was a lot of red craw colors and moving baits like spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. The talk was that fishing was good, when you found them and they were usually big, but they were mostly scattered. But with the weather changing again, tomorrow will be a lot different. The rain will be moving out and sunshine is the key word.
One question that I got wanted to know if Seth Feider had stayed true to his AOY Tournament announcement. And the answer is yes, his wife is pregnant. Another question was what about the comfort bait, the best answer I got was, the bait the fish wanted on that day. Sounds like the answer I would give too. Another question was if they could not prefish, how would they approach the lake. Map study was the big answer.
The main thing is, anglers usually are willing to share the good information about what they used and where they found them, but mostly after the event is over. When the big money and the big title is on the line, tight lipped is a must. Red may be the bait of choice, and shallow is what everyone is rigged for, but exactly what they have found and where, only the locals may know if they have seen them out there. We all need to be glued to live starting tomorrow and see if we can find some secrets. Can’t wait for the day to start and the fun to begin. Who is your money on to win it?