Sudden Death: The Race to 40 Pounds
2012 Major League Fishing Challenge Cup, Lake Amistad, Nov. 6-11, 2011
by Lynn Burkhead
DEL RIO, Texas – Pressure packed tournament bass fishing? You ain't seen nothing yet!
After three days of competition, the bass angling pros competing at the Jack Link's Major League Fishing Challenge Cup presented by Busch Beer on Lake Amistad will see things get ratcheted up to yet another level.
To start with, the format changes at the second round tier of this inaugural Major League Fishing event.
Instead of the top anglers advancing to the next round via the total cumulative weight collected during the three periods of the Elimination rounds, this time it's a sprint to the checkered flag to see which two anglers will cross the 40-pound finish line first.
|Sudden death Round Day 1 Competitors |
NASCAR hasn't got anything on these guys.
"It puts a little more intensity on catching fish," said Kevin VanDam, the widely regarded king of pro bass fishing. "It's just one more thing, one more foot in the fire."
Jason Quinn agrees with KVD.
"Yeah, it's another added layer of stress," said Quinn. "What it does is make you fish faster. You've got a limited amount of time and you want to make sure that you're one of the first guys (to get on them) and that you make that 40-pound mark."
Jeff Kriet, one of the top anglers year in and year out on the Bassmaster Elite Series, says that unlike a regular tournament where you can catch up late, it is absolutely imperative to get off to a quick start in the Sudden Death rounds.
"Everyone of these dudes is good enough," Kriet said. "This is a tough field, man. There isn't any slouches in this field at all.
"We're fishing another new zone. It might be totally new, but whoever dials it in the fastest tomorrow is the winner. I mean, that's how this deal works.
"If you get lucky enough to get the one bite to clue you in, you make it to the next day. If it takes you too long to get that one bite that dials you in, you're done."
In addition to changing up the format the semifinal Sudden Death rounds, the weatherman will also apparently be stirring up the pot again to help provide the ultimate test for these anglers.
So far, during the first three days of competition, the anglers haven't seen the same weather conditions twice at Lake Amistad.
|Scheduled Sudden Death Round Day 1 Fishing Zone - Approximately 3,600 Acres|
|Due to strong North winds, the area scheduled for Sudden Death Round Day 2- Zone 5, 3,700 acres - was used for Sudden Death Round Day 1 Fishing.|
For the first day of Sudden Death, make it four consecutive days of variable conditions as they find post-frontal conditions with clouds in the sky, cool temperatures and a north wind blowing.
While such weather conditions often spook weekend warriors, for Quinn and his fellow compadres, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"The north wind, it is what it is," said Quinn. "But, I think this lake fishes a lot better in the wind (and) I'm looking forward to getting out there.
VanDam agrees that he for one is excited to see some wind in the forecast, even if it is blowing out of the north.
|Sudden Death Rounds|
Basic Rules and Format
Practice Start: 7:15am
Period 1 Start: 7:30am
Period 2 Start: 10:30am
Period 3 Start: 1:30pm
Score-able Fish: All black bass with a minimum length of 14 inches
Anglers must stay within the set boundaries of the zone during fishing periods
First two anglers to catch 40 pounds advance to the Championship
"The wind is a good thing here," said VanDam. "I'd rather have it with the wind blowing than with no wind at all. It makes it challenging in some ways and it’s beneficial in others."
Sudden Death round angler Gary Klein, one of the originators of the Major League Fishing format, sees the post-frontal conditions as just another day at the office.
"That's just part of the game that we play and we're so used to it," said Klein. "At least it's not snowing.
"It's a current condition that I think all of the anglers are going to have to focus on. (But) you try to use the wind as a friend, use it to your advantage instead of getting out there and fighting it and cussing it.
"(Sure) it affects the environment of the fish (but) these guys are the best in the world. You watch, we'll figure out techniques that are going to catch these fish."
Klein is particularly excited about the zone that he and his other seven competitors will be fishing for the first time.
"We're fishing a good section of the lake, it's got a lot of good fish, (and) it's got a lot of big fish in there," he said. "I think we're going to probably make the cut-weight versus taking the top-weight (at the end of the day).
"Either way, it's going to be a shoot-out and I'm looking forward to it,” he said.
While some anglers aren't sure how much information they can transfer from their first round of competition into the Sudden Death rounds in a different zone, Quinn is excited about the potential he sees.
"It's the same type of area and it's a pretty big area but, you know, you've got six guys in there going head to head, so you've got to move around a lot and make sure you catch them," said Quinn.
KVD isn't so sure he can transfer much from the first to the second round.
"It's going to be a different day for sure than the other day," said VanDam. "It's a whole different area, that's the hard thing. It's a whole different area, so what you learned the other day, hopefully you can apply some of it but a lot of it is going to be different."
For Kriet, the next round will be a tougher assignment. Just as he thinks it should be.
"As (this) goes on, everybody is going to be a little bit smarter (during the next round),” said Kriet. “It's going to be a little bit harder, (but it) always is."