My biggest week of the year

In my occupation of fishing high level bass tournaments, we get one championship or “Superbowl” event each year. It’s hard to qualify for and it’s an event that has a lot of history. It’s the Bassmaster Classic.

Throughout the Elite Series season, there is stress every day because all of the anglers want to be part of the Classic the following year. We qualify based on our previous season’s results. It is a tournament with 50 anglers fishing, the first place prize is $300,000, much of the fishing media is here covering the event, winning it is a life changer as far as the promotional opportunities that go along with it and your name is etched in bass fishing history.  

Simply fishing in the Classic is a dream for everybody who enjoys fishing in bass tournaments and that is not forgotten in me. Since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to fish in this event. I have watched every Classic TV show since the 90’s and could rattle off every winner of the tournament since then. It’s the biggest event in our sport.  

Jeff Gustafson with a nice bass from his first Bassmaster Classic in 2020. He is hoping for a good event this week in South Carolina.

The 2022 version of the Classic is happening this week at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. It’s a clear water reservoir with a good population of largemouth and spotted bass. It will be my fourth time fishing this lake. I’ve had some good events here in the past so it’s a lake that I’m comfortable with. When it was announced last year that Hartwell would be the site, it really motivated me to want to be here. Thankfully, things worked out last season and I’m here.

The Classic week is a long one. We just wrapped up three days of prefishing over the weekend, fishing Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We’re off the water Monday and Tuesday, we get another day on the water on Wednesday to look around, we’re off the water Thursday for a media day event and then the tournament runs this coming weekend from Friday to Sunday.

My practice days over the weekend were okay. I’ve been catching a few nice fish but it’s hard to know if some of my spots and patterns will hold up because there is such a gap until the tournament starts. It’s an added challenge for sure. The weather is going to be unseasonably warm in South Carolina this week so the fish are going to change. Hopefully I can stay on top of them and make some good moves come tournament day.  

This will be my third time fishing in the Bassmaster Classic and I’m ready to have a big tournament. My last two Classics were on tough for me as far as not really having a great game plan heading in the events. This time around, my strengths of using my electronics and fishing deeper water with finesse tactics should serve me well on this body of water. I’m really excited for the tournament to start later this week.  

Everybody can follow the event online at the Bassmaster website this week. You never know when you’ll get another chance to fish this tournament so I want to make the most of this opportunity and try to have a chance to win heading into the final day, that’s all I can ask for.