A cold Bassmaster Classic
The Bassmaster Classic begins Friday on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, and it is expected to be the coldest Bassmaster Classic ever.
The Bassmaster Classic two years ago on Grand Lake was the coldest to date, but the polar vortex hitting the Eastern seaboard is going to make conditions miserable for the 46 qualifiers in the tournament, including two Oklahomans, Edwin Evers of Talala and Jason Christie of Park Hill.
Because of the weather, Friday’s take-off has been delayed 90 minutes until 8:30 a.m. where the low Friday morning is expected to be 10 degrees or lower.
"I'm only thinking about my fishing, but these guys are thinking about the health and safety of everyone out there," Christie told Bassmaster.com. "I've told several people that the worst case scenario for me is a shortened day. I'm not getting a lot of bites, but when I'm getting one it's a good one.”
Oklahoma fishing FLW pro Jimmy Houston knows what the anglers in the field will be facing.
“I was talking to (Roland Martin) last night about it for about an hour. I told him I am glad we are working it and not fishing it. He said, ‘I don’t think I would fish it even if I was there qualified,'” Houston said Thursday afternoon.
“I am glad I am not either. Last year, when we fished the FLW tournament at Hartwell, I want to think it was March. It was a little bit later and it was 14 degrees and rained all day. It might have been the most miserable tournament that I have ever fished.
“You couldn't keep your hands dry. I went through I don't know how many pair of gloves. I had on rubber gloves with Jerzee gloves over the top of them. It was just horrible. I never got a bite until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. They caught some fish though.
“Casey Ashley, who lives there on the lake, won the tournament and he will probably win this one, too. He was supposed to have put in 100 brush piles for that FLW Tournament last year and he has probably got 200 in there now.
"But I know what they are going through. I am just glad it's them and not me."
Rumors persist that the Bassmaster Classic will come back to Tulsa next year, perhaps returning to fish Grand Lake or possibly Fort Gibson.
B.A.S.S. officials may make an announcement Sunday about the site of next year’s Bassmaster Classic.
Even though the FLW pays more money to its champion of the Forrest Wood Cup ($500,000 compared $300,000 for the Classic winner), the Bassmaster Classic was the first championship tournament of professional fishing and arguably carries more prestige.
In addition to the $300,000 paycheck, the winner of the Bassmaster Classic can usually parlay the title into a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal.