TULSA, Okla. — It might be the best-kept secret since the Manhattan Project.
It’s 55 men from across the country working for the just-right combination of metals, hard and soft plastics and the perfect color to catch enough bass to win the coveted Bassmaster Classic title. The $300,000 and nearly limitless bass fishing endorsements that come with the title aren’t too shabby either.
The 46th Classic started Friday morning on the 44,000 impoundment, Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, tucked in the northeast corner of the country’s 48th state, and, through practice days, the search was on for the lure that could take each angler to bass fishing’s version of heaven on earth.
When the top five anglers do address the media after Friday and Saturday rounds in the three-day bass tournament, there’s the inevitable question about lure choice — “c’mon” man tell us the “secret” lure that made your day on the water so special.
Invariably that question goes unanswered. It’s a secret these anglers will take to their graves, or until somebody wants to market the new angler-autographed, Classic-winning lure that holds the promise of making the new Classic champion a whole bunch of money.
Why wait until Sunday to find out? Ask the top contenders now. Give us the name. Turn loose with the details.
The answers blew the lid off Thursday’s media day blitz.
Brothers Chris Lane, the 2012 Classic champ on Red River near Shreveport, and Bobby Lane were the first to reveal their “secrets.”
“I’m thinking something along the line of ‘Swamp Donkey,’ pearl and turquoise (lure) with 14 black lines on the back ... not 13 or 15 ... 14 lines,” Chris Lane said with a gleam in his eye.
Bobby Lane admitted the “Lexie Lou” was his choice, “a white, pink and orange bait with one big hook and one eye on the front and one of the back so the bass will never know which way it’s going. That’s my choice.”
Justin Lucas, the young, hot-as-a-firecracker angler from Guntersville, Alabama, said he’s naming his super-secret lure “March Madness. As muddy as the water is on this lake, I’m thinking a spinnerbait with four Colorado (round) blades.”
Most spinnerbaits have two metal blades, sometimes one, designed to create a disturbance and vibration to make a bass believe there’s a baitfish around for the eating.
“It has to be an extreme ‘thumper,’ something that moves a lot of water because the water is so muddy. And the skirt? Black and chartreuse, something that will stand out,” Lucas said. “It’s probably the only time I’d every throw it, ’cause it’s not this muddy where I fish.”
If there’s one guy in the field who lays awake at night dreaming of the can’t-miss lure, it’s Aaron Martens, the reigning Toyota Angler of the Year, and a guy who’s finished second in four previous Classics.
He was Boat No. 1 heading out Friday morning, but that’s not his No. 1 dream.
“My super secret is the Marten’s Magic Minnow,” he said through a hint of a smile. “It’s been maybe 10 years or longer that I’ve been carving (wood) and shaping it just right. It’s 3 3?8 inches long — I’m not saying too much about it — with Gamakatsu treble hooks, and slow suspending.
“I just might catch all my fish on it. Colors? Don’t want to say yet, but it’s really bright and has some darkness to it. That’s it.”
Michael Iaconelli, the 2003 Classic champion in New Orleans, said he’s dreamed about a super-secret bait for a number of years.
“I’m a big believer in matching the hatch, you know matching the forage in the lake, and I’ve got the bait that matches all three forage species in this lake, even for the muddy water on Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees,” Iaconelli said.
“Nobody else has something like it. It has shad, crawfish and bluegill ... and it’s called ‘The Shanker.’ The back of it is a crawfish with the claws and it’s orange, and has a bluegill body with yellows and a little green, and the head is white like a shad,” he said adding that The Shanker is a hybrid of soft and hard plastics.
“The tail is soft, the middle is hard and the head is a combination of hard and soft together,” Iaconelli said. “The key to this bait is have a Texas rig on the front, and the back has a treble hook like a stinger (hook).”
Then there’s Greg Hackney, Louisiana’s lone qualifier. The Gonzales touring pro angler came up with a different angle.
“My super secret? It would be the ‘Spanish Bug,’ half alligator, half salamander, an anatomically correct soft-plastic lure, and it’s really big during the spawn,” Hackney said through his usual sly grin. “Size matters, and the bigger the better. The color? Spray-on tan.”
The competitors took this funny business in stride and used it as a break from the usual assault of what, when, why and how questions about their Classic chances.
The field will begin weigh-ins near 4:30 p.m. at the BOK Center. Bassmaster’s website: www.bassmaster.com, will carry live weigh-ins all three days.
Chris Lane closed out this odd Q & A with a demand: “When you find the bait, will you please come back and let me know.”