Zona’s Classic Predictions

Category: article

 Feb 19th, 2013 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Feb 19th, 2013 at 12:00 AM

By now anybody who follows the Bassmaster Elite Series knows Mark Zona has the inside skinny on the movers and shakers of the pro bass world. Fortunately, he took a little time to share a little Bassmaster Classic insight and throw down his predictions for the Top 5 anglers at the big event happening at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake February 22-24.

Mark Zona (Photo Zona)

When it comes to fishing tournaments, Zona says the Bassmaster Classic is like no other. “The Classic is a hybrid,” said Zona. “It’s a completely different animal than the regular Elite Series events. From a programming standpoint, I believe it is the hardest two weeks of the year.

“First off, there are several hours of footage that are produced. It is also more of a challenge for me because I am much more detached from the anglers at the Classic. During the Elite events I know every turning point of the event. At the Classic, well, I really only get access to the Top 3 and honestly I try to get them away from other media so I can get the info I need for the show.”

Classic contenders are often off their game.

“The Classic is also a totally different event for the anglers,” said Zona. “It is the one event where they should just let it all hang out and go for the win, but so many don’t. I’m not sure if it’s the off water stuff or other pressure, but a lot of them are in spin-out mode. It is easier to spin out mentally at this event.

“By 11:00 A.M. on the first day, I bet 60 percent of the anglers are done and scrambling, just trying to weigh a fish and save face. After Day 1, only about 25 percent of the anglers are still trying to win.”

There are two different mindsets for most anglers fishing the Classic according to Zona.

“There are the anglers who say ‘I’m in the Classic’ and there are anglers who say ‘I’m here to win the Classic’,” said Zona. “Those are two totally different mindsets. You have the ballers who have that winning attitude like other pro athletes, like Peyton Manning or Kaepernick from the 49ers. Even though he lost you could see that fire in him. There are some established guys like that and we are seeing some young pros with that ice in their veins, too.”

Zona admits that predicting the Classic winner isn’t a science.

“I’ve watched guys who I thought would win, win and guys who I thought were gonna fall on their faces pull it out,” said Zona. “A good example of that is Boyd Duckett. I thought he’d fall on his face. I watched him fish and thought he just isn’t mechanically honed enough, but he has it between his ears. He is so mentally sharp and tough.

Edwin Evers- It’ simply his time and he’s a beast. (Photo BassFIRST)

“Last year’s champion, Chris Lane, is another one I was surprised by. Just a year before the Classic, I wasn’t sure he was going to still be fishing. I’m pretty close the entire Lane family. Eight years earlier, Chris told me he was going to win the Classic someday. I just rolled my eyes. Then, last year, I remember being on stage looking around and realizing he is gonna win.

“When a guy like that wins, it is special. All of us who fish and who have ever fished a tournament think about what it would be like to win the Classic. He did it. That was one of the most fun times I’ve had covering an event. He was a total disaster afterwards, his emotions were flowing. He sure is one of us. I hope we have the same excitement this year.”

Zona’s Top 5 Classic Picks

(In no particular order)

Edwin Evers- It’ simply his time and he’s a beast.
Jason Christie- A local snapper-head that dominates there in March.
Tommy Biffle- Another grizzled freak that owns most lakes in Oklahoma.
Aaron Martens- To me, the best “fisherman” in Elites.
KVD- Big game baller.

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