Cliff Pace is coming off a strong Bassmaster Elite Series season during which he notched three Top-12 finishes, including back-to-back runner-up placements at Toledo Bend and the Mississippi River. He finished 18th in Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) points and secured a berth in the Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake in February. Itíll be his fifth career Classic and second time competing at Grand (he finished 93rd in the 2007 Elite Series event there).
Shortly after Thanksgiving this year, the Mississippi angler made a scouting trip to Oklahoma to get his bearings on the lake and what could potentially be going on there once February rolls around. He didnít fish a whole lot Ė maybe 2 hours over the course of 3 days Ė but he thinks Grand is one of the best pattern lakes around.
Hereís his take on his scouting excursion and what he thinks the Classic competitors will find once they return in Februrary:
ďI expect Grand to change a lot between now and February and itís really going to depend on what the weather is throughout the off-limits period as to what stage the fish are going to be in. I donít think itíll be a spawning deal, but it could be a very strong pre-spawn deal or it could be a full-blown winter pattern. It just depends on what Mother Nature gives us to play with over the next 60 days.
ďI donít think it ever hurts you to spend time on a body of water. People say that you can practice too much and there is some truth to that. I donít think it was time wasted by any means, but I think the lake is going to change. Regardless, I think youíre going to have to figure it out the week of the tournament because itís anybodyís guess as to what kind of weather weíre going to have.
ďThe one thing I like about how Grand lays out is itís going to be a pattern lake, especially if we have a warmer winter. I think itíll be pattern fishing and I donít think someone will win it off of one spot. If we have a real cold winter and the fish stay in a winter pattern and are more bunched up out deeper, then a guy could win it off one spot. Iíd rather have it be warmer so the fish are a little shallower and more spread out and have it be a pattern deal.
ďPre-spawn is one of those times of the year that if you get the right thing in your hand itís really all you need. Those 3 practice days before the tournament will be very important and thatís one thing some guys arenít looking at. Those 3 days could be a blizzard and you might not get to do all of the things youíre thinking youíll be able to.Ē