The 2019 Bassmaster Classic held on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, TN is in the books with local angler Ott DeFoe claiming the title. DeFoe was easily the odds on favorite as he was essentially fishing in his backyard and he made good on living up to the lofty expectations. Easier said than done regardless of experience on a body of water when you are up against the best in the business.
I also thought that it was cool how DeFoe handled the pressure of being the favorite after a rough day two knocked him out of his day one first place perch (top bag of 20-0 on day one). He took a rough second day bag of 10-5 in stride although he commented that it made him “mad” as he slipped to fourth place. However, a final day weight of 18-14 pushed him to the title with a winning margin just shy of four pounds.
It was a tournament of ups and downs as each of the anglers in the Top 10 had at least one tough day. DeFoe was able to sandwich his with a pair of top bags and that made all the difference.
So, you’re probably wondering (or not), how did my picks turn out?
Ott DeFoe (picked for first place, finished in first place) – I picked him to win and he did. Really not a surprise but no matter what sort of “home lake advantage” is attributed to an angler, a lot of stuff still has to go right. And it did, on the biggest stage in the sport. I enjoyed a comment by Bassmaster tourney emcee, Dave Mercer, regarding the pressure that DeFoe faced as the favorite. Mercer noted that the pressure didn’t just start this past week, it truly began last April when Bass announced that DeFoe’s hometown would host the big one.
Chris Zaldain (picked for second place, finished in twelfth place) – Things were looking good for Zaldain as he sat in third place entering Championship Sunday on the heels of a 21-12 day two that was the biggest bag of the tourney. However, conditions changed on Sunday and he only managed two bass for 3-4 with both caught as the day wound down.
Jesse Wiggins (picked for third place, finished in third place) – Wiggins’ down day was a day one bag of 10-11 and while he jumped each of the next two days with 15-15 and 17-4, the climb was just too steep without a “big bite.” There was a lot of talk of a pivotal six-pounder being a game changer for anglers but only a few came aboard and not for the right guy at the right time.
Bradley Roy – (picked for fourth place, finished in fiftieth place) – A four fish day of 6-15 to start put Roy in a spot where I suspect he had to shift gears and gamble. Whatever the case, on day two he would end up blanking. I felt bad for the guy but it makes my rough days a little easier to take knowing it happens to the best in the game as well.
Not too bad for an amateur bass fishing handicapper in landing three of four in the Top 25 who qualified to fish on Championship Sunday. Also kind of cool to get my pair who made the Top 3 in the right spots. Makes it fun even if there is no potential financial windfall, only pride or shame in offering up picks for public consumption.
Another exciting Bassmaster Classic is history with an interesting field, the likes of which we will not see again. The sport continues to evolve and I’ve got some thoughts on that aspect and more regarding the Classic coming your way later this week. Talk to you later. Troy