Bassmaster Classic Showdown in Alabama!


 Gussy gets ready for Classic Week!

He is a long shot, with the odds given him to win at 30-1. The last time he was on Lake Guntersville he had his worst tournament of the year, finishing 67th.

Can Jeff Gustafson have a better week at the Bassmaster Classic?

It doesn’t hurt that the guys that he rooms with on the road and share information with are some of the tournament favourites. You have the Johnson brothers from Ontario, who Jeff has fished beside for a few years now. Then there is the other teammate from Minnesota, Seth Fielder, who is riding a hot streak and goes into the Classic as a 4-1 favourite. Cory Johnson is not far behind at 7-1 odds, with brother Chris at 11-1.


Chris Johnson putting in work

Gussy is considered a long shot at 30-1. The fact that Gussy is down the list might actually work in his favour. This will reduce some of the pressure from outside forces, which will allow him room to fish freely, a big factor in making correct decisions on the water. Then you combine that with his pedigree.

Jeff started fishing tournaments when he was ten years old with his dad, who has been there by his side since that time.

Over all those years, Jeff has come to fine hone his skills to be become one of the best anglers in the world.  Having fished with him many times, his attention to detail and time management while on the water is like nobody I have ever fished with. During those days on the water I asked him what trait has brought him all that success in tournament fishing.


Gussy doing some fine tuning in Alabama

Being successful or competitive in bass tournaments, like anything, is mostly all about putting in time, preparing properly and working hard. The luck factor in fishing competitively is minimal, you need to find fish and make good presentations if you want to be successful. The luck factor is landing the fish that you hook, but even then, are you using the right rod for your presentation, are you using quality, sharp hooks, all of that stuff is so important and I think overlooked by many anglers. Out on the Elite Series, we get three days to practice before our events so most of the guys out here are launching at dark and fishing until dark, it’s amazing how hard all these guys work. 

Jeff is putting the time in right now as the three days of practice draws to an end. The actual tournament in Alabama starts on March 6th and the last day is on March 8th.


Conditions on Lake Guntersville, where the tournament will be held, are in a state of flux right now. High water from heavy rains have created current and debris, along with heavily stained water. This could delay the bass from moving to shallow cover and lower weights. Most pro’s are trying to prepare for any eventuality which means trying different types of cover and presentations. One of the more popular presentations this week will include the chatterbait. Gussy is sponsored by Z-Man which makes one of the best on the planet.

Have to add that a lot of us will be throwing Z-Man’s new Fire Craw pattern. You’ll see this bright red ChatterBait rigged on the decks of a lot of anglers at the Classic; can’t tell you how many competitors have been asking me to hook them up with this color. Fire Craw JackHammers have become hard to find, though, so alternatives like Spring Craw and Hite’s Hot Craw could also play prominently. I put a green pumpkin pattern RaZor ShadZ on the back for what might be the ultimate big fish confidence bait.


Hopefully when Friday rolls around Gussy will have things fine tuned.



Seth Fielder is one of the two favourites

Fellow competitor Keith Combs is fishing his eight Classic and he says it’s an event like no other.

The most complicating factor is the tournament’s practice schedule. We start with three days on the water, followed by two off. Then we return for a short day, followed by another day off. In the spring, when everything changes by the minute, the fish you found yesterday could be totally gone tomorrow. The water could go from clear to stained, or there could be a warming trend or a cold front, and that changes everything.

Seasoned professionals like Jeff and Keith know that you have to be willing to change presentations and locations to match what your instincts tell you. Since it is only a three day event with only six anglers left on Day 3, you have two days to figure it out on the water. Talk about the ultimate challenge. Watch it all unfold at


About Author


Don Lamont - The Complete Angler Don Lamont has been a full time professional angler for 34 years, hosting and producing the award winning “The Complete Angler” television series for fifteen of those. Don has received several awards for his commitment to public education and the future of recreational fishing in Canada. Those include a 2000 Canadian Recreational Fisheries Award for his work with Manitoba’s Urban Angling Partnership. In 2003 he received a Manitoba Tourism Award for his promotion of Manitoba and western Canada. In 2004 he was a finalist at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada National Award for Tourism Excellence, presented by The Globe and Mail. Don has been a regular fishing columnist in the Winnipeg Free Press since 1992 and is currently editor of Hooked Magazine.

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