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The Bass and the Fishermen Are Confused at the 2019 Bassmaster Classic

with Brandon Palaniuk

Brandon Palaniuk

After three days of practice, I know the bass and the fishermen are totally confused about this year’s Bassmaster Classic. I practice-fished March 8-10 preparing for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic taking place March 15-17 on Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes in Tennessee. 

I’ve been asked what I’ve learned during the three days of practice, and I can say I’ve learned every place not to fish on these two lakes. So far, I’ve been able to catch bass, but I haven’t found the size of bass I think I’ll need to win. Now I must put myself in the sections of the lakes where I think the heavier bass will show up in the changing weather and water conditions taking place.  

This part of Tennessee has had temperatures to lows in the 20s to highs in the 70s. We’ve had rain and a lot of sun. I believe the bass are totally confused about what they’re supposed to do, and where they should be. So, I guess the bass are as confused as me and the rest of the anglers going into this Classic. The spots we’ve found in practice may get better, or they may get worse. This Classic will have to evolve, as the anglers determine how to fish each day. 

Brandon PalaniukOne thing I know is that where there’s warm weather anywhere in the country, that warm water will push the bass into shallow water. Colder weather seems to hold back the bass from making their push into shallow water. The bass know the days are getting longer, and the time has arrived for them to move into shallow water and think about bedding. But they also understand there’s no point in moving to shallow water, until the weather becomes warmer. 

Water clarity has a lot to do with where we’ll find the bass. The water clarity here in Tennessee during practice has been good down to 5-feet deep at times but with only two inches of visibility at other times. We’re fishing in water temperatures as low as 47 degrees to as much as 59 degrees. So, we’re having to look at very different water and weather circumstances to locate bass to catch. There’s a good chance, too, that as soon as I get on a hot pattern, it may change. 

What’s making this Classic difficult to fish is there’s no one set of variables in fishing conditions that I believe will last for the three days of competition. I’ve been able to consistently catch bass in a wide range of water color and temperatures. In times past, I’ve had to switch my approach to the bass with different lures and various retrieves. I haven’t discovered any really big bass on the Classic waters, with the biggest bass I’ve caught in practice weighing about four pounds. I don’t think many bass that size are biting. 

Understanding what I know now, I plan to cover a lot of water and be efficient and concentrate on key areas that I believe may hold some big bass. I’ve identified some sites where I can get a bite. I’ve got ways to catch bass fishing both fast and slowly, depending on the way the bass want to take the baits each day and each time during the day. However, I prefer to fish fast, if the circumstances allow me to do so. 

On the Classic days, cold fronts as well as clouds, rain and thunderstorms may occur, and the temperature may drop about 20 degrees every day. So, I don’t have any idea about how well I’ll  fish, where I’ll fish, or on which lures I’ll catch bass.  

For more coverage of the Mossy Oak Fishing Team at the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, read:

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