Prelude to the best-ever Classic?

Here we go!

As I drove to Birmingham yesterday, I was thinking about this Classic and the potential it has to being the greatest of them all.

Not just from the standpoint of the fishing, which could be through-the-roof-good, but for the entire Classic week and the fans that will be there to enjoy it.

I’m not kidding, Birmingham and the town of Guntersville will provide venues that will be difficult to top.

First, Birmingham has the arena (weigh-in) and convention center (outdoor show expo) connected and just off major thoroughfares.

The Classic Expo is second to none and has become an industry leading outdoor show. It’s gotten so popular that many companies hold back new products just so they can introduce them at that show. The exhibits will be huge, fishing gear will be sold at bargain prices and there will be a lot interactive displays for the entire family to enjoy.

And then there are the rabid fishing fans of Alabama. Anytime we’re in Birmingham, the fishin’ crowds are enormous and enthusiastic.

Also, the city does a great job of preparing for the traffic and crowds. It’s one of the best places we’ve been to for Classic events.

I look for the town of Guntersville to be much the same. It’s become that town’s Super Bowl; all of the businesses, restaurants and hotels are rolling out the red carpet for the people who will be coming to watch us fish on the water.

If you can’t be there, coverage on, through social media and all of the other outdoor media coverage will be huge and non-stop. You can watch the weigh-ins live on this site in addition to finding up-to-the-minute tournament updates from the water.

I have to tell you, this is my 24th Classic appearance and I’m more pumped than I’ve been in a long time. Like most of the country, we’ve been in a major deep freeze in Michigan and buried in snow. I’m excited to go where there’s no snow and this will be a great way to kick off my spring.

I can sense the immenseness of this Classic from everyone involved. All of the anglers are extremely excited because we know the potential of big fish Lake Guntersville has to offer, especially with the prespawn bite we’re probably going to experience.

It looks like the weather will give us a break and may reach the 70s near the end of the tournament. On paper, at least, it should set up well for a real slugfest. (Unfortunately, the fish don’t always read the book!)

I do expect us to find the fish slowly transitioning toward the spawn, but you never know. The challenge for Classic contenders will be to figure out what the fish are doing in practice. That region of the country is coming off a brutal cold front and snowstorm then jumping quickly into a warming trend.

It’s been a year since we’ve seen the lake and we’ll face totally different conditions once competition begins. As anglers we tend to make the transition faster than the bass so it will be interesting to see how quickly the fish react to the weather changes.

It will make for one heckuva a drama-filled, exciting tournament!