Living by the Rules –  By Bruce Callis – April 3,2017

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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?


  1. Bruce,
    Great read, but I will have to politely disagree about seeing everyone weigh in 5 Fish. Sure, that is awesome as well, but the cream has already risen to the top once with the classic field, and to crown a champion it must rise again…..and it did.

    But when you take a field like this one, it is good in my opinion to see these guys struggle, prove they are human and not just fish catching machines.

    We did get to see big bags of fish as well as some absolute giants mixed in. Conditions play as much, if not more than the size limit, on any body of water.

    Take Keith Combs, Alton Jones and Alton Jones Jr for example, these three have more experience on Conroe than the rest of the field combined. Although I hated to see them struggle, it just proved to me that it can and will happen to anyone.

    Did just a little bit of luck help Jordan Lee lock up his first of many Elite Series Victories? Sure it did, but his ability to figure it out, on not only catching keeper fish, but catching the ones that he needed to win played a major role.

    Although we would all like to see giant Bass and giant stringers weighed in at every event, personally I like to see the struggle just as much. As long as we do not get another Pittsburgh kind of classic that is!!!!

    Again, much respect to you and great read!!! See you on the water my friend!!

  2. I see your point but I don’t agree .if the size limit was 12″ Yes you would have more limits but it would not have affected much in the end .the cut would have been the same but the end result probably wouldn’t have changed too much. I was at the classic and most of the guys who were in the hunt just weren’t getting bites not from 12″ or any other size fish! I think this kind of lake is a good thing it makes it so an angler not only hast to find fish but the right fish consistently. So in that situation as an angler you look at it as everyone is catching 16-17″ fish I need to find those 19-20″ fish and as a fan seeing the best of the best struggle is great .There is so little truth in the world of sports . there is such a divide between sports stars and there fans . all pro athletes are so far removed from the plight of the everyday fan even fishing to an extent. Take baseball if your favorite player makes a mistake you are bummed but you can’t relate to his emotions because you are a fan of a game that is out of your reach . Now your a bass fisherman who fishes local tournaments or even bigger tournaments like opens or regionals. When you struggle you know the feeling of being frustrated . You know the pain of losing a big fish at the boat that would put you in the money. You also know what it feels like when all cylinders click and everything goes right! Now when you watch the pros fishing on the final day and you see the ups and downs you can relate unlike any other sport! So yeah let them fish on bodies of water with high size limits because we can relate as anglers and the truth is you don’t always catch them no body does!


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