2019 Bassmaster Classic Recap with ANGLR Pro James Elam

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic is behind us now. A fantastic event with a fantastic champion in Ott DeFoe. This Classic was certainly one for the ages. Record crowds and as exciting as any other Classic before. Also particularly interesting and exciting because of what this year’s Classic represented, perhaps the last Classic that so many of the greats of the sport will ever fish. Surely there was tension, palpable at times. But for ANGLR Expert James Elam, it was nothing but a great experience.

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Fishing the Historic 2019 Bassmaster Classic

“Going into it I knew it was probably the last Classic I’ll fish for a while and it was the last Classic I’ll probably ever fish against a lot of the really good guys and legends of the sport. So, it was a pretty special deal because of all that.”

“Other than that, I just tried to focus on what I could do to try to win. I really moved around a whole lot in practice on both lakes. Going into it, it looked like it was going to be a cranking deal because the whole lake was stained and falling pretty hard. They weren’t really relating to what wood was left in the water. They were mostly on rock and steeper banks.”

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“They definitely weren’t pushed up in the backs of pockets and creeks. They were kind of close to where they were going to spawn but they were definitely holding off on deeper rock and points waiting on stability.”

Practicing for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic

The Bassmaster Classic is a unique event in terms of practice. Anglers get 3 days of practice starting nearly a week before day 1 of the tournament. Then there’s a day off for meetings and  media where anglers are available to the press. Then one more day of official practice where everything including launch and check-in is done exactly like it will be done during the tournament. Then 3 days of competition. So, a whole lot can change from your first cast in practice to your last cast on the final day of the tournament.

“I had a really good first day of practice as far as numbers go and getting bit. I didn’t catch many big ones, but it was pretty obvious where I could get bit. On that first day, the lake pretty much bottomed out where it had been falling and started rising slowly. It probably came up a foot and a half or two feet by the end of the tournament.”

“But that wasn’t super noticeable because it was already so low for winter pool. It was almost like fishing a tidal fishery on day 1 and day 2 of practice because the lake had been drawn down so hard and fast. There was stuff on the bank that was still really wet where you could tell it was recently under water. It looked like a low tide.”

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Figuring Out the Pattern in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic

“I threw multiple crankbaits throughout the event and a chatterbait some. It was really hard to get bit on anything but a reaction bait. I threw the Molix F Crank but they kind of got off that it seemed like and I ended up throwing a Rapala Shad Rap later in the tournament. I caught some on a Molix Sculpo too. The water was clearing up and the fish were getting a lot of fishing pressure so I had to move to the more subtle crankbaits to get bit.”

“Looking back on it, I focused mostly on the creeks. I tried a lot of main lake stuff the first day of practice and the second day but I never really got on anything solid doing that. I caught some fish but I didn’t catch any good ones and I should have focused on that longer. Taking Ott DeFoe out of the picture, the rest of the top guys all caught them on the main river. It’s always important to look back on a tournament and figure out where you went wrong and that’s where I went wrong I’d say.”

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Elam finished the 2019 Bassmaster Classic in 23rd place.

One cool thing coming to you from the Classic, in particular Elam’s experience there, is one of our first ANGLR Expert Packs (this name is subject to change). Elam used his ANGLR Bullseye and the ANGLR Logbook App throughout all 4 days of practice and his 3 days of tournament competition in the Classic to log pattern points where he caught fish, weather data, and time of day relative to each fish catch and much, much more. All of this data is available to you through ANGLR.

James Elam’s Tennessee River Trips

“It’ll show everywhere I got bit. Some days you’ll notice I caught a bunch and some days I only caught 3 or 4. But you’ll get to see everywhere I was going and what I was targeting.”

And more importantly, you’ll have a plethora of data at your disposal to dive into and decipher when and why James got bit. You can correlate catches from day to day to find patterns in the time of day when most of his bites would come or what the wind was doing each time James would go on a flurry and catch multiples. With the ANGLR Expert Packs, you now have an open look into the logbook of some of the greatest anglers in the world. That’s pretty exciting!

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This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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James Elam

ABOUT James

I am a Professional Bass Fisherman from Tulsa, OK. I have qualified for 4 Bassmaster Classics and fished on the Bassmaster Elite Series for 6 years. I am a Bassmaster Elite Series Champion and a 2X Bassmaster Opens Champion. I am now headed to fish the MLF Bass Pro Tour!

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