Editor’s Note: Two of the most-stupid questions you can ask a professional bass fisherman is how he plans to fish a tournament before the tournament begins and how he’d fish the Bassmaster Classic, if he had qualified for it. But we asked Strike King Pro Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Missouri, a former Classic winner and longtime top bass angler, those questions anyway.
Part 1: The Flippers Probably Have the Best Chance of Winning the 2011 Bassmaster Classic with Denny Brauer
Question: Denny, how many Bassmaster Classics have you fished, and how many have you won?
Brauer: I’ve fished in about 20 Classics, and I won the 1998 Classic on High Rock Lake in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Question: Let’s pretend you’ll be competing in the 2011 Classic on the Louisiana Delta in New Orleans. You finished second in the 1999 Bassmaster Classic held there, so how would you fish this year’s Classic, if you were competing?
Brauer: When you’re competing in the Classic, you have a pre-practice time when you visit the body of water where you’ll be fishing to learn the area and try to determine the baits the bass will take. The main purpose of the Classic pre-practice is to learn every part of the body of water you can and try to choose the area you think will be holding the biggest bass at the time of the Classic and the lures and the tactics you’ll need to fish that type of cover and structure. When you reach the Classic, you generally have one practice day that usually doesn’t provide very-much information.
Question: What would you do to get your equipment and tackle ready to fish the Classic?
Brauer: I don’t prepare any differently for the Classic than I do for any-other tournament. As a tournament fisherman, I always try to keep all my equipment in the best shape I can. The competitors generally get new boats to fish in the Classic, and I try to get the boat as early as possible. Then I can get that boat rigged and ready to fish and not have to rush as the Classic draws near. I try to break-in the motor and get all my dry storage areas packed with the tackle I think I’ll need well in advance of the Classic. I want to have all my equipment broken-in and ready to fish several weeks before the beginning of the Classic week. I try to always treat the Classic, as much as I can, like any other tournament as far as my preparation.
Question: The 2011 Classic in the Louisiana Delta will be one of the most-weather dependent Classics we’ve ever seen. A north wind could blow a lot of water out of the Delta and a south wind could blow a lot of water into the Delta. If the first day of the Classic has stable conditions, it drastically could change for the second day of the tournament. How do you prepare for that much fluctuation in water depth?
Brauer: Any time you’re fishing tidal waters, you have many-more variables to take into account than when you’re fishing reservoirs. So, you really have to be prepared for all those variables, especially when you’re preparing for the Classic. Realizing the volume of grass and weeds in the Louisiana Delta at this time of year, the Classic most likely will be set-up as a flipping tournament. So, I’d have plenty of 3/8- and 1/2-ounce Strike King Premier Pro-Model Jigs in a wide variety of colors, especially pumpkin craw and black and blue.
When I finished second in the 1999 Bassmaster Classic at the Delta, I caught the majority of my bass on a black and blue Premier Pro-Model Jig. I’d also have a variety of trailers. If the water temperatures were colder than expected, I’d use the Denny Brauer Chunk, and if I wanted a little more action, possibly for warmer water temperatures, I’d use the Rage Craw. These jigs and trailers would be a very important part of my tackle box.
Question: Besides your flipping tackle, what other tackle do you think would be important, if you were fishing the Classic this year in February on the Louisiana Delta?
Brauer: None (grin). The weather conditions will determine the tackle you need. All kidding aside, I’d also take some square-billed crankbaits, like the 1.5 and the 2.5 KVDs, for difficult water conditions. Too, I’d carry some Premier Plus Spinner Baits in chartreuse-and-white and super-white. I’d also carry a few Rage soft-plastic baits. My No. 1 choice would be the Space Monkey, but I’ll also have some Rage Craws, just in case I want to finesse flip with some smaller baits. I’d carry quite a few Strike King Rodents to give me another flipping option. In a multi-day tournament, sometimes the bass get tired of looking at the same lure. So, I’d want to change my lures to generate a few-more strikes by giving the bass a different-looking lure.
Every time I’ve been to the Delta, I’ve felt that the tournament was a flipping tournament. I’m surprised if I’m beat by someone using another tactic, like Mike Iaconelli when he won a tournament down there swimming a worm. However, because this tournament will be held in February, I don’t believe any tactic will be stronger than flipping. I’d set myself up to compete during this entire tournament by flipping, but I wouldn’t be hard headed, and I’d make sure I had lures that would be appropriate for a really-high or a really-low tide. Under those conditions, the spinner bait and the square-billed crankbait could play a major role in whether you win or lose.
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