Starks will go for broke in Classic

(Tulsa, OK) — Legendary race car driver Dale Earnhardt was once quoted, “…second place is just the first loser.”    Earnhardt made the remark after one of numerous times he finished as runner-up in the Daytona 500.   The Bassmaster Classic is on the same level of importance to competitive bass fishing as the Daytona 500 is to NASCAR.

West Virginia bass angler Jeremy Starks believes the same logic applies to the Classic.

“This is the Classic, it’s not like you’re fishing for points during the season,” Starks said during the Classic Media Day in Tulsa, Oklahoma Thursday. “The only person anybody remembers is the winner.  Nobody cares if you’re third or 50th.”

Starks will hit the waters on Grand Lake of the Cherokees Friday morning in the biggest tournament of his life.  A win in the Bassmaster Classic is a life changing experience.  Any angler who has ever won the “Superbowl of Bass Fishing” has seen their career launch into a different stratosphere.   The financial opportunities are nearly limitless.   The winning purse is $500,000.   An angler with savvy marketing skills can multiply the figure several times in endorsement opportunities.   As a comparison, the second place finisher wins $45,000 and the last place angler in the tournament walks away with a check for $10,000.     Such a gap between first and second adds validity to Starks’ thinking.

“I’ve found several places where I can catch numbers, but none of them are very big.   I can catch a limit there, but is that worth it?” Starks said. “This is the Classic and it’s a different game.   In a regular Elite Series event I’d go there and catch a limit and then start fishing for big ones.   But in this tournament you may be wasting time when you could get a bigger bite just catching those first five.   I could gamble and get zero, but I could get five big bites and win it all, you never know.”

As of Thursday afternoon Jeremy said was still mulling over his Day 1 game plan.

One factor which will be huge is the weather.   Although the worst of the midwest blizzard this week went north of the region, Wednesday featured snowfall and Thursday was cold with snow.   The forecast on Friday and Saturday is for clearing skies, but highs only in the 30’s.    Sunday will see a warmup with temperatures back in the 60s, but by then the field is cut to the top 25.

Starks is the first professional angler from West Virginia to fish the Classic and only the third to ever fish.

“It makes me really proud.  I’ve worked really hard to get here and it’s paying off,” said Jeremy. “We went through the walkthrough and I was up there on that stage.  It was really unbelievable.  I remember watching that when I was a kid and always dreaming of walking up there to weigh in fish.   Here I am.”

You can follow Starks’ progress on Day 1 Friday if you follow me on Twitter   @WVOutdoors .   Join us live Saturday morning at 7:06 for Ram Trucks West Virginia Outdoors when we broadcast live from the launch site of Day 2 of the Bassmaster Classic in the town of Grove, Oklahoma.

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