The western waters of Pennsylvania will host next week's Bassmaster Classic, the world championship of bass fishing.
Over a three-day period, professional anglers from Michigan to
Mississippi will converge on Pittsburgh's surrounding rivers in search
of the fish big enough to earn someone $200,000, as well as a year of
The Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers are said to be full of
smallmouth bass with a hint of largemouth and spotted bass for the guy
who figures out which barge, bank or dam holds the best supply.
Finding the right fish, though, is only half of the equation.
``It takes everything going right,'' Ish Monroe said. He is
competing in his second classic. (His career winnings total is
$170,279.) ``It takes complete concentration and focus.''
But that's the hardest thing about fishing. It takes more than
skill. More than the knowledge of the area. You need some luck, too.
``There is no consistency,'' Monroe said of his sport. ``I've had
tournaments where I've had nothing going in practice and I ended up in
the tournament finishing sixth overall, and there've been tournaments
where I've had great practices and not caught 'em.''
He'd rather the first example come to life in Pittsburgh, beginning July 29.
Monroe believes the winner of this event will weigh in next Sunday with between seven and 10 pounds a day.
Others believe the area's small fish could be some of the smallest the event has seen since it debuted in 1971.
John Sweezy of the Pennsylvania Bass Federation said the anglers might be surprised at what they find.
``These are great fisheries,'' he said. ``When they cast out --
every cast -- they don't know if they're going to get nothing or a
five-pounder because they're in there. I think that it's going to be a
lot bigger and more competitive than people think.''
Either way, competitors will have five practice days to figure out their favorite spots, or to tweak their lures.
That could be plenty of time for a field that includes defending
champion Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, the top five Federation
Championship qualifiers, the top five Open championship qualifiers, the
top 11 anglers from the 2005-Elite 50 points and the top 25 from the
2005 Angler of the Year standings.
Monroe, who enters the classic ranked 28th in the Angler of the Year Standings, is a one-man band when it comes to prep work.
``If you can figure it out yourself, you're going to do a whole lot
better in the tournament because you know what you're doing,'' he said.
Forty-seven anglers will participate for two days, then the field is
narrowed to 25 for the final day of competition. ESPN and ESPN2 will
devote more than 15 hours of coverage to the event.