By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Pete Gluszek said this summer that his primary goal in fishing the 2012 Bassmaster Northern Opens was to qualify for the Elite Series. It was the circuit's other big carrot that he ended up grabbing, though, and now he thinks he might've gotten the best end of the deal.
His win in the Open at Cayuga Lake in mid-August has garnered the New Jersey veteran his third career Bassmaster Classic berth and his first since 1999. When that event is over, the 45-year-old co-founder of The Bass University will again step away from high-level competition until the triple-A circuits return to his part of the country later in the year.
"If I'd been invited to the Elites (he ended up 12th in the Northern points, and only the Top 5 are guaranteed Elite slots) and I'd been able to acquire all the sponsorships I'd need, I don't know if I'd want to do that," he said. "I'm so involved now with the business side of fishing and we've worked so hard on that the last 5 years, and the direction I'm going now allows me to spend a lot of time with my (3-year-old) son. Watching him grow over the last 3 years has really been amazing, and I'm close to him all the time.
"It can be hard to support a family out on the tournament trail. Mortgage payments come monthly, but tournament winnings come when they come. From that perspective, I'm happy doing what I'm doing now."
Spring Never Glorious
Gluszek, who runs BU's day-to-day operations, hasn't fished a full tour-level campaign since 2010. He's never lost his taste for competing against the best in the game, but like some of the sport's all-time greats, he's been hindered by schedules that are focused on the spawn.
"I don't want to use that as an excuse, but the fact is that from June through December, I've put up some pretty strong statistics whether the tournaments were in the North, South, East or West," he said. "Events from the post-spawn through the fall are definitely in my wheelhouse, and having most of those events stripped from the highest levels has impacted what I can do in fishing. When I first started fishing, half the tournaments were in the fall, and that was really good for me.
"The time around the spawn has always been my Achilles' heel. Even though I've worked to improve on it every single year, I'm definitely weaker in those tournaments. When you get into that pre-spawn and spawn time, there's a different way to trigger bites, even when you can't see the fish. I'm still uncomfortable with things like dead-sticking and repetitive casting to targets where you suspect there's a bed."
He's a lot better when the fish are focused on eating rather than cleaning house.
"My mentality is to pitch in there and if I don't get a bite, I assume the fish isn't there. I like to cover water and I'm very efficient at it, but I'm not real good when the fish aren't the least bit interested in feeding.
"That's why I always get the best sight-fishermen in the world to handle that part (at BU seminars), and then I talk about something else. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a big part of fishing."
Time will be Short
Gluszek will be hard-pressed to find the time to properly prepare for next year's Classic, as four of the five BU seminars will take place within a 5-week period immediately preceding the event. It's not like he has a lot of knowledge of the venue to fall back on, either not only has he never been to Grand Lake, he's never even set foot in the state of Oklahoma.
He plans to get his first look at Grand either next month or just prior to the Dec. 10 pre-practice cutoff.
"I'm going to try to schedule the time, but I'll have my phone with me and I'll keep working while I'm out there," he said. "Ideally, I'd like to go for a week, but I'll have to schedule whatever I can. I figure I need to put in 5 days at a minimum.
"The Classic is special and as much as I want to throw myself into it with everything I have, I have other things going on and I have to be multi-faceted. I'm really excited about getting there, though the chance to win that tournament is one of the big reasons you do this in the first place, and now I've got another shot."
He finished 31st in his previous Classic appearance at the Louisiana Delta in '99 and 25th at Logan Martin 2 years prior to that.
"In the unlikely event I don't win it this time," he quipped, "just making it there is going to do a lot for The Bass University. It'll be a big benefit to all the things I've been working on."