The Calm Before the Race:
Media Day at the Classic
by Bruce Callis

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The wait is finally over! The last day of practice is in the books. And today was Media Day at the 2022 Academy Sports + Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. It is the opportunity for us, the media, to get to talk with the anglers before the tournament kicks off in the morning. Our last opportunity to pick their brain and to try to understand if they have a set plan to make their dream come true.

We started off with picking up our credentials and finding a seat at the Greenville Convention Center. The anglers arrived and parked their boats in the parking lot, then made their way into the convention center. Awaiting them was a catered lunch for them and the members of the media. Tommy Sanders then walked to the stage and welcomed every one to the Classic. After some motivating words from Tommy and other members of the Classic this year, the anglers made their way outside and awaited the onslaught. We are assigned a time to meet with 7 anglers this year and the last 3 time slots were for any other we want to talk with. Just a short 10 minutes that most try to stretch and others don’t sign up, just take their chance.
I had the opportunity to talk with Stetson Blaylock, John Crews, Scott Martin, Brandon Palaniuk, Jacob Powroznik, Bryan Schmitt, Caleb Sumrall and Drew Benton. There we plenty more I wanted to talk to, but they have to go back and prepare for tomorrow.

Talking with each of them, the word is making changes. The weather is warming and the bass are scattered. There are some deep and some up shallow. And as the weather continues to change, the one that puts the puzzle together and makes the right changes stands the best chance of winning. They all pointed out that they could catch bass, but that finding those big girls had been a real struggle. There was no special bait or pattern that was going to bring about victory.

And each of the were about even with what it would take each day to win. Fifteen pounds each day would be good, but might not be enough to win. Sixteen to seventeen pounds per day was what they would have to bring to the scales. Somebody could bring in a 20 pound bag the day and maybe drop to 14 the next, but enough to stay in the money. It would take 48-50 pounds to be crowned the champion and lift the trophy high, fulfilling the childhood dream.

Relaxed and ready seemed to be the best way to describe those anglers I talked with. They were ready to get started, to see how the day would start. The dream still lives in them and they are ready to go out there and have fun. To take in the moment of making the Classic and live it, not let it determine everything. To let the child in each of us celebrate fishing the biggest event in Bassmaster.

From the first timers like Bryan Schmitt and Scott Martin, to the returning veterans like Jacob Powroznik and Jason Christie, to the veterans like Gerald Swindle and John Crews, it’s all about fulfilling the dream. To hear the crowd roar, to lift the trophy high and be covered in confetti, to having your family come on stage with you, the greatest prize in professional bass fishing. To be able to say I did it. The dream!