With the 2013 Bassmaster Classic set to kick off soon, bass fans everywhere are anxious to know how Grand Lake, Oklahoma will treat this year’s qualifiers. Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees is a popular and heavily fished body of water known for big bass and plenty of them. Since the lake has mostly held major tournaments during the summer time, the biggest question everyone has been asking about this Classic location is, “How will it fish this time of year?” To help answer this question, Oklahoma natives Jeff Kriet and Terry Butcher share their expert opinions on what fans can hope to see at this Classic.
Jeff Kriet’s home in Ardmore, OK is roughly four hours from the launch site on Grand Lake. Kriet has years of experience on the lake dating back to his early days of fishing Red Man (now BFL) tournaments. He has a long history there leading up to the Elite Series events on Grand from a few years ago and believes that he knows the lake as well as anyone in the field with the exception of Jason Christie. With that being said, he was disappointed to miss this event as he expects it to be a great Classic with multiple big bags of fish brought to the scales.
Based on his past winter fishing experience on Grand, he believes a jerkbait will be key. “The jerkbait will be big in this one and possibly a crankbait. If it warms up a little bit they should catch them good on a spinnerbait and jig,” shares Kriet.
Rocks, Transitions will be Key Locations
According to Kriet, another key will be finding the right types of transitions and rocks that are holding fish. “Transitions, channel swings and the type of rock that fish are relating to will be important. The great thing about this event is it will shape up very well for pattern fishing and those who find a pattern can run that throughout the lake,” adds Kriet.
He feels that the winner of the Classic will be fishing the area from about the midlake point south to the dam, “I’m not saying a guy won’t do well in the northern end, but the bigger bags this time of year come from the south end. The water is typically clearer in the south, where the north end has more current coming from the creeks and rivers and it will be muddier,” says Kriet.
Grand Lake known for Quality Bass
Grand Lake is regarded as one of the best bass lakes in the country with numerous fish in the 3-5lb class. Kriet credits the abundance of baitfish and the large population of gizzard shad with the healthy bass population. “There will be lots of 3 to 4 lb fish brought in and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a big bass of 7, 8 or 9 pounds; a 25lb bag is not out of the question,” shares Kriet. Overall he believes an average of 18 lbs a day will be very good for this Classic and will possibly be enough for the win.
The Winning Depth Range
Kriet believes most of the field will be focusing on fairly shallow water that is less than 12 feet deep, although he would not rule out the possibility of someone finding a good group of fish in deeper water. “The real wildcard is those deep fish. They school up way out there in deep water and somebody might be able to figure them out with a jigging spoon or jig,” concludes Kriet.
Oklahoma’s Terry Butcher has spent his whole life in Oklahoma and has fished the site of this year’s Classic quite often throughout his lifetime. His experience ranges from the Elite Series events down to the BFL level where he has five Top 10 finishes at Grand Lake over the years. Like Kriet, he has good insight on what to expect for the event.
Find the Clear Water
When asked about bait selection, his thoughts were nearly identical to that of Jeff Kriet, strengthening the belief that they are spot on with their predictions. “A jerkbait will play a big role and also a football head. The guys who focus on finding clear water and locate the clear water will do well in this one,” adds Butcher.
Weather the Biggest Wildcard
The weather in Tulsa, Oklahoma in February has been discussed quite often in the months leading up to this Classic and Butcher still believes it will be a major factor, despite the fact that the weather has been unseasonably warm over the past month.
Besides just the air temperature, Butcher feels rain will play a role in the event. “We have had quite a bit of rain here lately; they had about three inches of rain over Grand Lake the other day. If it stays rainy, it could be bad. Cold muddy water is never good,” explains Butcher. He feels that the event will be won in clear water and like Jeff Kriet, Butcher feels the best location to find this water will be in the lower end of the lake.
Even with the stable and balmy weather over the past few weeks, weather is still the biggest wildcard for this event according to Terry Butcher. “If it gets cold again, it could get really tough. If it stays nice, there are going to be several 20lb bags brought in,” concludes Butcher.
According to Oklahomans who have fished Grand Lake their entire lives, the Bassmaster Classic field and fans across the country are in for a great event. The consensus is that clear water at the south end of the lake will be productive for those fishing the event. Look for anglers who are adept at throwing a jerkbait in cold water to shine during this event; it is truly shaping up to be a classic event.