I cannot describe the excitement and the intensity in the air during the Classic. I have not experienced anything like it in the four years I have been fishing professionally. You are running on pure adrenaline the whole time. It is really hard to put into words what it feels like! I arrived at the launch on day one at 5:45 with a scheduled take off at 7:00. You could have cut the tension in the air with a knife as we waited for the fog to clear until 8:45. I made my first cast at 10:45. Every cast was critical and the pressure to perform in my 1st Classic was almost overwhelming. My observer was fired up and so were the spectator boats around me. I really think they were waiting on Kevin to come by but when I was the only one to go that way, I was all they had to watch and I did my best to show them something. Every fish I caught that day was followed by applause and cheering. This has happened several times in my career but this was the Classic and it felt different. The feeling of being in that moment is what it's all about.
Pulling into the arena at the Classic for the first time was incredible. The fans at this event are second to none and the intensity was the same as at the take off. When the last fish hit the scales I was sitting in 25th place. It was obvious what was happening and who the real players in this Classic were going to be. I was not one of them. I had made the wrong decision and now I was going to have to live with it. I knew where this Classic was going to be won and I was not going to make an appearance in that area since I was not there on day one. My goal now was to make it to day three and to get to go across the stage one more time at this point. I knew there was enough fish in my canal to do it if I could just catch them.
Day two started off just like the first day only with thicker fog. The atmosphere was even more intense because the crowd was even larger and the delay was longer. We finally took off at 9:45 which gave me just 2 hours to catch them as opposed to the three that I had the day before. I was committed to this one canal for a couple of reasons. I had just enough fuel to get there and back. My Z-520 holds 52 gallons and that was exactly what it took to make it round trip and based on my practice, its really the only place I knew I could catch them. I fished clean and boated all 3 bites that I had. The fish actually got easier to catch but there were just not enough to go around for all of the boats in there catching them. I can't tell you how hard it was watching boaters fill their ice chests up with fish that would make my Classic story have a different ending. I knew on the journey back I would be working the show on Sunday and not fishing.
I am disappointed with some of my decisions during practice and some of the ones I made once the tournament got underway. I will learn from the mistakes I made and will be better because of it. That's what this is all about and why I love it so much. I have tasted it and want it even more now that I know what its like. I am a competitor and winning the Classic is my ultimate goal. I will be back!