This is the time of year when a lot of us are tending to business. We're negotiating contracts, ordering and organizing tackle, going back and forth with the factory on boat rigging, booking travel plans and stuff like that. You have a lot going through your head about the next year, so I thought it would be a good idea to write down some of those thoughts for this month's column. I'll call it my December brain dump.
I think the 2020 schedule is really good. It certainly isn't any easier than last year, but it's got a lot of good big-bass lakes again. We go to the St. Johns, Chickamauga, then the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic at Guntersville. We've got Santee-Cooper, Eufaula, Lake Fork. The whole schedule is chock-full of big-bass fisheries, and I look for it to be another season that highlights a bunch of big-fish catches, which is what everybody loves to see.
We had a really big year as far as media goes — some really unique fish catches caught on camera. The Elites really showed out in a few events, and I look for the same kind of deal to happen this next year.
A lot of guys stream footage of their own boat on the days they don't have a live camera with them. That's given their social-media outlets a boost with content, and B.A.S.S. has even used some of the stuff also. And I'll be totally honest: That's something I need to get better at.
Personally, I'm just not that organized, and it takes a good bit of commitment and organization to operate a GoPro every day in competition. I'm so discombobulated at times it's hard to imagine adding a GoPro, a charging source, mounts, flash cards, editing software and staying on top of all that while competing. I truly wish I was better at it.
A shallow Classic
I would say the Bassmaster Classic will be won shallow. Typically at Guntersville that time of year it's a shallow-type deal, so I think the winning depth range is going to be anywhere from super-shallow to 10 feet. And if any grass survived the winter, that's going to be a big player.
I don't really know Guntersville that well, but I'm not sure I remember many early prespawn events where deep fishing was a big factor.
My Classic box
I've been getting together my tackleboxes for Guntersville. Right now I'm focusing on the Booyah! One Knocker lipless crank, a new Bandit square-bill and several different War Eagle spinnerbaits.
Depending on the weather, we could have a more progressed prespawn Classic or more of a cold-weather type deal. And those are the types of baits I've done well with in those conditions.
I'm also looking heavily at the new War Eagle Jujigsu jig to be a big player in this Classic. It's simple, no-frills, with good skirt colors, and just everything you need in a jig. Andy Morgan designed it. Keep an eye out for it.
Can't wait for 'vacation'
I've said it a lot — I think of the Elite Series Northern Swing is like a yearly vacation. And I can hardly wait for the next one, which starts in late July at the St. Lawrence.
I've looked forward to those northern tournaments every year since I was 18 years old. I love them. Here in Atlanta it's so hot that time of year, and we get to go up and fish in nice weather, and catch smallmouth. It really feels more like a vacation, whereas other events get that work vibe going.
A better electric
I'm going to run the new MotorGuide Tour Pro trolling more this year. It's totally re-engineered to be more like the old Tour Pro that was such a big hit with everybody. It's got a metal foot-pedal, a new bracket and light system, a GPS anchor feature, and although it has assisted steering, it's still a cable drive. That way, even if the assisted steering goes out, you can still steer with the cable systems. With a lot of the other motors on the market, if you lose your electric steering, you lose steering altogether. It's going to be a really tough motor.
I do know the new MotorGuide Tour Pro is capable of working with Lowrance electronics, but I'm not sure about other electronics. It'll have a transducer for Lowrance, which is what I fish. I run two Lowrance HDS 12 Lives. They were new on the market last year, and I really had no issues with them at all.
I want to win another tournament. Now that I won one, I believe I can actually win, and I think I can do it again. It's the goal. I got the first one out of the way at the St. Lawrence, and now I'm ready for win number two.
Until you win an Elite event, you're stressing every time you get a near chance or opportunity. You're worried because you've never closed the deal. I had a few of those tournaments where it didn't work out. But the next time I get close, I don't think I'll be as nervous about winning, and maybe be more open to new ideas or risks. Now that I have a trophy, instead of not having one, I think that might help calm my final-day nerves in the future.