The Good, Bad, and Ugly Side of the Bassmaster Classic

By Dave Wolak

__Editor's Note: Please help me welcome good friend and bass pro Dave Wolak to the F&S blog roll. Starting today, and every Monday from here out, Dave will be injecting this blog with all sorts of bassy goodness. He has more than 20 combined B.A.S.S. and FLW top-10 finishes, has collected more than $1 million in tourney winnings, and has fished more bodies of water than most of us ever will. I'm pumped that he's going to be sharing his bass knowledge here. - Joe Cermele

OK, so I didn't go to the Bassmaster Classic this year. It's not like I've never been. I've fished it 5 times, and even years when I wasn't fishing the tournament, I usually went just to shake hands and kiss babies (kidding about the babies). It's just good PR for a bass pro to be on site at the biggest tournament of the season, but this year I needed a break. Being a bass pro isn't always a cakewalk like many people think. It's a job with some of the highest highs and some of the most grueling lows. Many of these are experienced one way or another during Classic week. So to kick off my blogs, I thought I'd open my mental logbook of past Classic experiences and share some of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: Checking out new tackle and equipment, new boats, and frolicking among a sea of colorful tournament jerseys.

The Bad: Listening to countless pitches about why I should be using product X. I just politely tell these people I already have a bagel hole puncher that also tunes crankbaits.

The Ugly: In years when you're working the floor instead of the lake, getting the famous question over and over: "Why aren't you out there fishing today?" The stock answer usually involves some scientific excuse like blaming barometric pressure for your crappy season.

The Good: The smell of outboard exhaust the first morning of the tournament. The fog lifts. The early morning sun hits your face. It's go time.

The Bad: Making it to day three by "saving fish," which means trying not to self-plunder your fishing locations and leaving some for catching on the last day. Then you show up on the last day and all of your saved fish become no fish for reasons you can't explain.

The Ugly: Finishing last or close to last in a Classic. Been there, done that. The feeling resembles studying for a test for a whole semester and getting a big, fat F.

The Good: Meeting great people and sharing some epic experiences. I'll never forget my on-board observer's reaction when I caught back-to-back 5 pounders on a swimbait at Lake Hartwell with 1 hour left the final day. It was just surreal.

The Bad: A day after the tourney, you get a little sore throat. Those visions of confetti falling around you in the winner's circle begin to turn into memories of close-talkers that cornered you at the expo discussing proper ways to make homemade garlic scent.

The Ugly: Three days later, you're sweating with shivers in bed living off Wonton soup deliveries, Nyquil, and watching Redbox movies you already saw.

But if it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. Truth is I wouldn't trade any of it, because I've met so many great friends and learned so much in almost 10 years of pro tournament fishing, along with getting to fish with tremendous anglers on world-class bodies of water. A lot more good, bad, and ugly will be bundled up in these weekly rants, bass fishing tips, tactics, and whatever else pops into my head. I am really looking forward to sharing it all with you, and I hope you'll read on and let me know what you think. And if you need some advice or have any bass questions, fire away, and I'll do my best to answer.