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  Go back to the News List! This Classic is gonna be tougher than most 07/22/2005 Document  
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This Classic is gonna be tougher than most

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - The 35th Bassmaster Classic which will be held in Pittsburgh, Pa. July 29-31 promises to be challenging event.

Coulterville's Chad Morgenthaler, who will be fishing in his second Classic, said he expects the fishery, the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers to yield small catches with most anglers targeting smallmouth.

"They're small smallmouth," Morgenthaler said. "There is a 12-inch length limit and a two-pounder is a big fish there.

"You'll be lucky if you see 12 pounds for three days. Five pounds is huge."

While anglers will have nearly 100 miles of water to fish, Morgenthaler said conditions are unlike any he's ever seen before. Classic qualifiers had three practice days in Pittsburgh earlier this summer. Few anglers left with identifiable patterns.

"There are very few tributaries," Morgenthaler said. "It's usually main river fishing, junk fishing really - barge tie-ups, rock walls, bins and boulders. It's hard to pattern fish when they're in a situation like this."

For most anglers, it will mean taking a completely different approach.

"They limit our tackle and the items we bring," Morgenthaler said. "I've had to rescale my tackle, that's why it's so difficult to pack. I'll probably be fishing with crappie jigs a little bit."

Morgenthaler is packing spinning gear with four- to six-pound test. He plans to use a lot of finesse baits and possibly do some drop-shotting.

"I really don't know what to expect, and that could be a good thing," he said. "I know it's going to be tough."

Michael Iocanelli, the 2003 Classic champion, is considered the favorite.

"He lives there," Morgenthaler said. "He's fished it a long time. When you have a tournament this tough, it's anybody's game."

A few years ago, Morgenthaler would have found the task more daunting.

"I feel more comfortable with stepping on a strange body of water and finding the quality and quantity of fish I need to become a contender," he said. "That was the one area I felt where my confidence was lacking. After three years on the tour, I just have a little better handle on that."

ESPN and ESPN2 will devote more than 15 hours of programming to the Classic this year.

- Les Winkeler

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