The 2018 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in Greenville, SC was a whirlwind of activity. Since this was my first Classic, it was a lot to take in. The number of fans, the activities, the Expo, and the weigh-in. And to add to it, as a media member, there was the access to the Elite anglers as they came off stage. Luckily, I had some help in the form of Brian Carter, the president of The BassCast, Josh Roller of BassBoats4Sale, Jacob Stephens and Chris Kimbrough. The day became so much easier as a team.
My first Expo experience at the TD Convention Center was overwhelming, and at the same time, so amazing. Getting to talk with so many amazing companies, meeting the pro anglers who were there representing their sponsors, and talking about the newest products they have on the market, was simply a thrill, but the time goes by so fast. You really need to be able to go all three days just to be able to take in everything fully. And as busy as it was, everyone kept saying, wait until tomorrow.
We left the Expo early to head over to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for the big weigh-in. As we rounded the corner to the arena, the crowd standing outside was amazing. So many fans waiting for the doors to open, reminded me of a concert, where the most diehard fans lined up hours in advance so they could get the prime spots for viewing the event. But with so many fans, things still moved smoothly and we managed to find parking rather easily. A short walk over to the arena and into the media entrance, then down the elevator to the media room where the anglers would make their way after they came off the stage.
As a rookie, here is where it gets crazy. As the angler enters the media, it is a mad dash to try to be the first to get your interview and be ready for the next angler to make their way back. Reporters with video equipment, others with notepads, voice recorders, phones for live broadcasts, and they all want to talk for that quick story. And the anglers are always so open, sharing just enough, but holding back just enough to keep their competitors from knowing what they think. And at the same time, hoping to grab something to eat and drink before they go back to prepare for the next day. Chaos with some order. And the top 6 have to wait for a final live press conference.
I talked to a lot of the anglers, and learned a lot. Some were talking about the bite having changed so much in 2 days, others about the heat, and some about how their patterns would hold up better than others. The strategies varied, just as much as the techniques. Out deep, up shallow, around docks, and off points. But all talked about how you had to make changes quicker to locate the bass and then land them.
For me, the first day was all about learning. Learning just how much work it takes to put on such an amazing event. Learning that it takes a team to cover such a huge event. Learning that its impossible to do everything in one day. And the most important thing I learned on my first day, have fun and take in as much as possible while still doing that which you came to do. The Classic is but once a year, it’s an experience you need to add to your plans.