West Virginia bass fishing pro Jeremy Starks is ready to take a shot at the big one. Starks will fish this weekend in the world’s biggest and best known bass fishing event, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
“I’ve wanted a chance to fish this tournament for as long as I can remember,” Starks said. “I grew up following bass fishing and always dreamed of a chance to fish the Classic.”
Jeremy is the third West Virginian to fish the Bassmaster Classic. Russ Smarr of Charleston fished the 2000 Classic on Lake Michigan in Chicago. The weigh-in was held at Soldier Field. Frank Haught of Lumberport was the first West Virginia angler ever to qualify for the event. He fished the 1989 Classic on the James River in Virginia. Smarr and Haught both qualified to fish the event through the amateur ranks of B.A.S.S. Starks is the first pro from West Virginia to ever qualify.
Starks’ dream will come true this Friday when he and 52 of the world’s best anglers will set out on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Grove, Oklahoma for the three day event.
The weather can be a wild card in Oklahoma in February, but for now the forecast is calling for occasional showers with daytime highs in the 40’s and 50’s for all three days of the tournament. Water temperatures however, are far different than atmospheric conditions and regardless of what’s happening above the water, under the surface it will clearly be a winter time pattern.
“Most of the time bass will suspend over deeper water, but really close to shallow water, especially in that type of lake with those long pea gravel bars,” said Starks. “Your boat should be sitting in 20 feet of water and you’re casting into five or six feet of water.”
Although Grand Lake is relatively new to Starks, the concept of cold weather fishing is one he’s very familiar with.
“They feed all winter, the strike zone just gets smaller. In normal prime water temperature 55-75 degrees they’re normally going to eat it if you get it within six or seven feet of them,” Starks said. “In the winter, you’re going to have to get it within six or eight inches of them and that’s what makes it more difficult.”
Starks qualified for the Bassmaster Classic with his win on the Elite Series event at Douglas Lake in Tennessee last spring. Conditions will be far different for the Classic than that day when he found bass schooling in a pre-spawn pattern and stacked deep in the main lake.
“I had never been to that lake and didn’t ask anybody for help. I found those fish on my own,” he said. “If I had asked for advice, I’d have probably run up in the river and finished somewhere down in the standings.”
Grand Lake has been off-limits to the anglers since early December, but practice was allowed starting last week. Starks hasn’t indicated how those practice days went, but tweeted several cold pictures as he arrived in Oklahoma to begin Classic week.
You can follow complete coverage of Jeremy in the Classic here at the outdoors page of www.wvmetronews.com Also on day one, I’ll be tweeting updates from Jeremy’s boat as I ride with him on the first day on Grand Lake. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WVOutdoors Saturday morning at 7:06am hear Ram Trucks West Virginia Outdoors live from the launch on Grand Lake on Day 2 of the Bassmaster Classic.