Like Scroggins, Quinn was the big favorite to win the 2004 Bassmaster Classic on North Carolina’s Lake Wylie, where Quinn had been a fishing guide for years. But it wasn’t to be. With a flotilla of spectator boats in tow, Quinn struggled to finish sixth.
“On one hand, it’s a great position to be in,” Quinn said. “But there’s a lot of pressure and attention that goes with it.”
In the extensive history of the Bassmaster Classic, no angler has won the world championship when it was held in his home state.
Scroggins, 37, of Palatka in northern Florida, hopes to reverse that trend.
“My confidence is real high,” he said. “I might go in there and finish dead last. But if I was betting on who’s going to win it right now, I’d have my name in the hat.
“Without a doubt, it’s got to be one of the best opportunities I’ll ever have, unless they have a Classic on the St. Johns River. Other than the St. Johns River, this Classic on the Kissimmee Chain is the best opportunity I will ever have.”
Over the years, Quinn and other local Bassmaster Classic favorites have been plagued by the unintended impact of being followed by spectators on the water. That threat does not intimidate Scroggins, however.
“Quinn had a lot of spectator boats on him and I’m going to have some on me. But I think that I might be able to plan for that a little bit and try to keep them behind me,” Scroggins explained.
“As long as you’re moving forward and not backtracking, I don’t think it will play too important a role. But if you start running back and hitting a spot two or three times, it’s going to get you. If you plan ahead and hit each spot just one time, I think you’ll be fine.”
Scroggins knows as well as anyone that the traditionally finicky weather of February will dictate the most successful fishing tactics during Classic XXXVI. But his skills — and confidence — seem well suited for the most likely scenarios.
“I really like my chances, especially if the weather gets cold and it’s going to be a good flipping bite,” he said, “I will be hard to beat. If it’s a sightfishing deal, I can also sightfish pretty well. But a lot of other guys can, too.
“Also, the topwater bite is going to be strong, too. And it could be won offshore.”
Despite being in a Bassmaster Classic field that includes such capable sightfishermen as Dean Rojas, Aaron Martens, Skeet Reese and Gary Klein, Scroggins says he can hold his own if the bass are on beds during the event.
“I learned to sightfish growing up in northeast Florida,” Scroggins said. “Just look at the guys that come from this area — Peter T, Preston Clark, myself, Bernie Schultz, Shaw Grigsby. We know how to sightfish. We’ve been doing it for years and years and years. We were doing it before anybody else was doing it, I believe.”
(You can hear Scroggins talk about his Bassmaster Classic chances on BASS INSIDER Radio at www.bassinsider.com.)
SLAM DUNK. 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic Champion Kevin VanDam of Michigan is changing out sports - at least for one night. VanDam, in Central Florida practicing for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic (Feb. 24-26 on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla.), will present the official game ball for the Orlando Magic's game against the Miami Heat on Feb. 15. VanDam will take center court at the TD Waterhouse Centre prior to the 7 p.m. tip-off. BASS and the Orlando Magic are teaming up to offer fishing fans discounts on game tickets and priority seating for the Feb. 15 game, Feb. 24 game (Seattle Supersonics) and the Feb. 26 game (Houston Rockets). To purchase tickets in advance click here.
BASS anglers often switch sports around the Bassmaster Classic. CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Michael Iaconelli threw out the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game just days before last year's Bassmaster Classic. CLASSIC WEATHER. Tour Weather Services by Thor Guard will be the official weather service for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic in Florida. Thor Guard bills itself as the only true lightning-prediction company.
Along with this service, several meteorologists will be on hand in Kissimmee. Each day the Bassmaster Classic contenders and public will be provided a detailed forecast. A meteorologist will attend the pre-Classic briefing Feb. 21 to address anglers, as well as each morning during the launch to announce the daily forecast.
WEIRDEST CATCH. CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bernie Schultz admits, “I’ve caught some weird stuff.”
“I’ve caught lawn chairs a couple of times in different lakes,” Schultz explained. “They must have blown off a dock, and I hooked them with a crankbait. I also caught a flounder one time on the St. Johns River down by Sanford, which is a loooong way from the ocean.
“Probably the weirdest was a giant frog I caught last year during the Elite 50 on Dardanelle,” he said.
“I was flipping a Yamamoto craw into a mat and it didn’t go through the mat. I hooked a frog that was as big as a dachshund, or as big as Jim Bitter’s shoe. I thought it was a piece of wood. It was a foot long. I couldn’t believe how big it was. It fell off on the deck of the boat as I swung him in. I was going to bring it home to my kids, but it was quicker than I was.”
DID YOU KNOW? Arkansas is the only state that has sent a qualifier to each of the 36 Classics. This year’s Arkansas representatives are George Cochran, Mike McClelland, Jimmy Mize, Larry Nixon, Scott Rook, Ron Shuffield and Mike Wurm.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Bassmaster Classic contender Stacey King of Missouri will be 57 years young Feb. 21. Florida’s Charlie Youngers will blow out 54 candles Feb. 25.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Lane would still be working as a sales representative for American Valve and Pump in Lakeland, Fla. He quit that job a few days before winning the CITGO Bassmaster Southern Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee last month.
THEY SAID IT. “I did catch the last bus to the Classic. But this inaugural year of the weekend series has been great. I had been a big proponent of this circuit because it gives weekend guys the chance to fish for big money at some time during the year. Not to mention a chance to make the Classic. A lot of people fished it for that reason and that’s great.” - Jeff Coble, winner of the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series National Championship and a 2006 Bassmaster Classic contender.
Online Poll: Which CITGO Bassmaster Classic record will fall at Lake Toho? Visit www.bassmaster.com to cast your vote.
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