The 51st Bassmaster Classic is here! This week is my first time fishing on Lake Ray Roberts, and a Classic on a new body of water is awfully exciting. The closest lake I have experience on similar to Roberts is Lake Texoma. We fished an Elite there in 2016, and the water there was high like it is here.
The way that whole event shaped up is about as close to how this one is setting up as you can get it.
I’ve been watching the water levels for the last couple of weeks. They have had some big rains here lately, and the water came up about 2 1/2 feet. The way this lake lays, there isn’t a lot of places for the water to go. For example, on the Tennessee River lakes, they can just let the flood gates out and drop the water. They don’t have that here. Once the ground gets saturated, the runoff all goes into the lake, and so it rose quickly with the latest rain. It is about 4 feet high now.
There are a lot of bushes in the water, a lot of willows in the water. From my experience, although it's not extensive experience, the bass like to go to the bank and get in that cover – no matter what time of year it is.
I think the shallow cover bite will be a big player. Having not fished here before, I had an open mind in practice. I looked around a lot offshore. There’s a lot of structure in this lake, a lot of it looks great, but I didn’t find what I was looking for. So I’ll spend most of my time up shallow. I have a couple of spots out deep to keep honest.
The practice period is much different here at the Classic. We practiced last Friday through Sunday and then had a final practice day on Wednesday. Four practice days allowed me to see most of the lake. I had two good days and two days where it was hard to get bit.
I don’t have a ton of experience fishing flooded conditions like this. In Tennessee, Kentucky Lake gets like this, and that’s about the extent of my experience fishing “in the bushes.” In April and May there we get big rains and get to conditions like this. There are some bushes up and down the Tennessee River, but it's not my forte.
I’ve been trying to learn what makes a good bush here; what pattern can be put together to win the Classic up shallow like this. I’ve been looking for points in the bushes, the deepest shade, whatever is different. I only have eight hours, so I can’t fish everything in the water.
Lake Ray Robert has some big fish in it. I heard of some 7- and 8-pounders in practice. I caught some 5’s and had one close to 6 pounds. I’m geared up to tangle with those Texas-sized bass. I just hope when they bite, I can put them in the boat.
I’ve got a handful of flipping rods rigged up. Some of them are spooled up with Vicious fluorocarbon and a couple with braid. All of them are rigged up with fresh Mustad hooks.
I’m excited about launching and getting the tournament days started. It should be a great Classic for all of the fans.