The Bassmaster Classic is supposed to be a harbinger of spring in the bass fishing world.
Not so this year.
When the Super Bowl of bass fishing begins Friday, fishermen will be shivering in below-freezing temperatures, casting into frigid water and bundled in layers of winter clothing at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
“With record cold for this area and the snow, this isn’t exactly what I was expecting,” said Brian Snowden of Reeds Spring, Mo., the Show-Me State’s only Classic qualifier. “In practice, it’s been frustrating, a real struggle.
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“I think this weather has the bass just as confused as we are. They should be starting to move up at this time of the year. But with the falling water temperatures, I think they’re moving out deeper again.
“It’s going to be a grind.”
Still, Snowden hasn’t lost hope. He has qualified for six Classics, arguably the biggest event in pro bass fishing, and he finished third in the 2009 championship on the Red River in Louisiana. But he said, “No one remembers who finished second or third. You have to win it.”
“I’m definitely dreaming big,” said Snowden, one of 56 fishermen who qualified for the tournament. “The excitement is always there.”
Snowden moved to Missouri from California in 1994, and he has used Table Rock Lake as his training ground. He has fished in BASS since 1999 and has been a steady performer on the pro tour. He admits that winning the Classic would be his “breakthrough moment.”
At stake is the championship prize of $300,000 and a chance to make much more in sponsorships, endorsements and speaking engagements. The Classic will run through Sunday.
Now that’s a bass!
When the pro fishermen compete in South Carolina this weekend, they’ll be dreaming of catching a bass like the one Gabe Keen did Feb. 13 on Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.
Using an umbrella rig with Zoom Super Flukes, he landed a 15.20-pound largemouth, a fish for the record books. It broke the previous Tennessee record of 14.80 pounds that had stood for 60 years.
Keen, who lives in Caryville, Tenn., wasn’t even supposed to be fishing that day. He is a high school history teacher, and that was a weekday. But classes were canceled because of an outbreak of illnesses, so Keen went fishing.
Meeting to discuss deer-hunting changes
The Missouri Department of Conservation will host an open house Tuesday at the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center to get feedback on proposed changes in deer-hunting regulations.
The meeting, which will be 5 to 8 p.m., will be at the nature center at 1401 N.W. Park Road, Blue Springs.
The Department of Conservation will seek comments on proposals that would reduce the Missouri firearms season from 11 days to nine; reduce the limit of antlered deer during the archery season from two to one; cut the length of the antlerless firearms season from 12 days to three; and eliminate the urban firearms season.
Proposals also call for the youth deer season to be expanded from two days to three and started the Friday after Thanksgiving instead of in January, and for crossbows to be allowed during the archery season.
Ducks Unlimited banquet coming up
The Johnson County Committee of Ducks Unlimited will have its 11th annual banquet and auction Feb. 28 at the Kansas City Giftmart in Overland Park.
The highlight of the evening will be a live auction that will include two Labrador retriever puppies, antique goose decoys, autographed memorabilia, hunting and fishing trips, trips to both coasts and more.
Doors will open at 5 p.m. for a social hour, with dinner set for 7 p.m. and the auction to follow. Until Saturday, tickets will cost $40 for individuals, $75 for couples and $15 for greenwings (youngsters). After Saturday, all individual tickets will go up to $55.
To reserve tickets, go to www.jocoducks.com or call Gary Mellard at 913-706-3343.
To contact outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter.com at @fishboybrent.