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Changing Conditions Made for a Tough 2015 Classic

Posted by stephen on February 23, 2015

 Stephen Hartwell LM.jpg

(Photo: Scott Fisk)

Lake Hartwell proved to be a tough nut to crack this past weekend during the Bassmaster Classic.  I never was really able to put together a pattern that held up. I think the conditions really played into that.  I did catch some really good quality fish in practice, but it was a one here and one there kind of deal.  Not really anything jumped out at me as far as what the primary pattern was.  A great indication of that exact point would be in the evenings when I was rigging up twelve to fifteen rods in the parking lot.  When I’m doing that, it’s definitely not a good sign.

Like I mentioned leading up to the event, I didn’t get a ton of bites, but when I did they were the right quality in practice.  I knew going in that I was going to have to grind it out every day to put together a limit.  Unfortunately, with the shortened tournament time and brutally cold, changing weather conditions, I wasn’t able to get enough bites throughout the event.  That first day, I never got into a rhythm and never got out of the gate.  I didn’t feel like I covered enough water that first day and the results showed.  The fished seemed to be moving a lot due to the changing conditions and I just never connected.

Although it was a tough event in many ways, I feel like I did learn a lot from the cards we were dealt.  With that extreme cold I now have a better understanding about what equipment changes to make especially in regards to keeping the ice out of my guides and reels.  Oversized guides are a must in super cold conditions and next time I will be a lot better prepared.  The one thing I can say that I did well was dressing correctly for the conditions.  After dropping a few hundred dollars before the event on layers, I can’t complain one bit about being cold.

One thing that was pretty neat about this year’s Classic was that I caught most of my fish on a new prototype bait from LiveTarget.  It’s going to be in the crawfish crank family when we release it potentially at ICast this year.  It’s a shallow-medium runner that can hit about eight feet in depth.  What makes it neat is the tight wobbling action.  I’ve been catching them a lot back home in Arkansas on the bait which allowed me to have enough confidence to throw it this week at the Classic.  It definitely has potential, but the conditions weren’t necessarily ideal for it to shine at Hartwell.

Congratulations to Casey Ashley for winning his first Classic.  It was all about adjusting to conditions this week and Casey definitely was the guy who knew the most and executed his game plan.  As for me, I’m looking forward to my next event at Ross Barnett for the first Bassmaster Central Open of the season.  I can guarantee I’m going to take my Triton TRX as shallow a she can go and kick up some mud.  Ross Barnett has some backwaters that remind me of the Red River which has been very good to me in the past.  It’s looking to be a prespawn event and I expect lots of fish and specifically lots of big fish to be caught in the event.  Right after Ross Barnett I’m be headed to another shallow water fishery, the Sabine River in Orange, TX to kick off the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series.  That one should also set up well for me and I’m looking forward to putting the long johns away for the rest of the season! -SB