And Classic competition this year will, as always, be both stiff and diverse, as wily veterans and bright-eyed newcomers to the Tour provide a dramatic backdrop for this 6th annual event hosted by Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa on November 8th and 9th.
For this affair is an invitational, and of the nearly five-hundred teams that have participated in Future Pro Tour events during the 2009 season, only sixty-six will have the opportunity to compete for the coveted FPT Classic title, and be crowned the best amateur team in the west.
Also at stake for those competing in this fall classic, is a prize like no other - the keys to a 2009 Ranger 188vx, powered by an Evinrude 150 E-Tec, Minn Kota Pro-Maxx 101, Humminbird Electronics with NAVIONICS mapping technology, all expertly rigged by Capitol City Marine of Citrus Heights California.
Placing odds on which team holds the winning advantage in this Classic event is a job that even the most astute sports book agencies in Vegas would not envy in that Clearlake during the fall, can yield unpredictable results for even the most seasoned of anglers. And it is not uncommon for a fifteen pound daily limit – usually a fantastic bag of fish on any other body of water - to only yield a top 40 finish on a fishery such as Clearlake. Often times Clearlake requires a twenty-five pound limit just to place in the top ten.
So what should these qualifiers look for when they converge on the largest natural lake in California during next week’s Classic competition?
We spoke to a few of our Pro-support staff members who commented directly on that subject:
FPT Tournament Competition Committee member, Lure developer, Fishermen’s Warehouse Mgr
“If we get any kind of weather, and the water cools down, I would go to the various rock piles and throw deep running crankbaits such as Lucky Craft’s Fat CB-D12, or the LV 500 series working (the latter) in an erratic or “yo-yo” type presentation. Just make sure you carry a lure retriever on board as you will occasionally get hung up. And don’t get discouraged about getting hung up every now and then….because if you’re not ever getting hung up, you’re probably not getting the bait to where the fish are. If we get no weather - and this warm weather continues, I would be working the grass lines and tulle points with a Snag Proof frog.”
FPT Pro-support staffer, WON Bass Pro-Am Champion – 2007 Vanity Cup Champion
“It’s no secret to anyone that I would be throwing swimbaits. The fish right now are congregating in wolf packs chasing bait, and if you find the right area you WILL bust a big, big bag. Swimbaits like the new Bait Smith, or the new 5” Berkley Hollow Belly placed on a jig head could be deadly.”
FPT Pro-support staffer, 2007 B.A.S.S Angler of the Year , 3-time B.A.S.S Champion
"I'd be working Lucky Craft crankbaits like there's no tomorrow," Go with shad patterns, alternating both shallow and deep until you find them...and then hold on!"
FPT Pro-support staffer, 2-time B.A.S.S Champion/FLW National Guard Champion
"Flippin’ jigs in the fall is a natural, but for this event, if I’m going for ten big bites and the win, I would not forget about tossing swimbaits such as Tru-Tungsten’s TRU-Life series.” Points don’t count in the Future Pro Tour Classic and no one will remember who took second place.”
FPT Pro-support staffer, FLW/WON Bass/WCB Pro-Am Champion
“Swimbaits and rattletrap baits in a blue-chrome pattern have won me a ton of money at this time of year on Clearlake. You need to cover a lot of water fishing shallow flats, bumping the bait off the bottom.”
On Friday, the evening prior to the event Classic qualifiers will also be greeted by a host of FPT sponsors in attendance at the FPT Classic celebration dinner provided by the banquet staff at Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa. During this time, qualifiers will have the opportunity to hear reflections by Future Pro Tour Pro-Support staff members such as Jeff Huth, Charlie Almassey, Justin Lucas, and the west's all-time money leader Gary Dobyns.
How this event play out, and which team will walk away with all the “gold and glory” is anyone’s guess, but you can best believe that all of these Classic qualifiers will have held nothing back when the last bag of fish come to the scales during the final day weigh-in on Sunday afternoon.
One thing we do know is that the victors will have persevered through a full year’s worth of tough challenges, and for their efforts, will be crowned the 2009 Future Pro Tour Classic champions…the best amateur team in the west.
The Future Pro Tour is presented by:
Ranger Boats, Evinrude Outboards, Thunder Valley Casino, West Marine, Lucky Craft, Minn Kota, Humminbird, MAACO Auto Painting, NAVIONICS, Berkley, Costa Del Mar, Lamiglas, Gamakatsu U.S.A., Snag Proof, Sawyer Cook Insurance, ABU Garcia, Stren, Sportsman's Warehouse, SKIP'S Music, Capitol City Marine, C&C Marine, Marine Unlimited, Oasis Watersports, Hook, Line and Sinker, the Law Offices of Anthony Harris