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By Jeremiah Shaver

 


Photo: Bassmaster.com 
Jimmy Johnson Classic Bound!

The Bassmaster Classic “The Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” It’s every anglers dream. For the majority of us that is, but not for Jim Johnson of LaCrosse Wisconsin. He has had the distinct privilege of qualifying for not one, but two Bassmaster Classic's through the BASS Federation.

 

FutureBass had the chance to sit down and talk with Jim about his road to the Classic through the Federation National Championship. During the event Jim found himself trailing by 12.3 pounds going into day 3 and bagged 12.4 pounds to win the Northern Division and qualify for the Classic. We discussed this and his thoughts going into the 2006 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fl.

 

Q: What is it like to come back like you did, win by 1.oz and qualify for the big show?
Jim: 
I had no idea that I had enough weight to compete. I was shocked when the announcer said I needed 12.4 and I had exactly that. I knew that Jim Severson had four fish, so I thought that I wouldn’t have a shot at it.

Q: I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, what’s it like to fish in the Classic?
Jim:
The classic is the pinnacle of bass fishing. To put on an event the size and scope of the Bassmaster Classic it takes a lot of work and planning. The classic week is jammed packed full of things they need you to do. Usually they have your days planned to the minute and don’t be late for anything because the bus leaves when the schedule says they’re leaving. You get about 4-5 hours sleep a night during the event.

Q: How does qualifying for your 2nd Classic compare to your first?
Jim:
Qualifying for my second classic proves to me that I can compete at higher levels. My first classic I was a nervous wreck and didn’t know what to expect. The classic isn’t just about the fishing; it’s chaos during the week leading to it, media, spectator greetings, social events every night. Sounds

like a lot of fun but it does get very overwhelming. Now I know what to expect from that perspective.

Q: Are you nervous at all?
Jim:
This classic I feel more confident, now that I know what to expect from the week and I can concentrate more on the fishing aspect. I am excited and yes kind of nervous.

Q: Do you feel at a disadvantage compared to “regular” tour pro’s?
Jim:
Other than the pro’s having history with the lake, I don’t feel at a disadvantage at all. Sometimes history hurts an angler and he doesn’t fish with an open mindset, like someone that has never seen the body of water.

Q: Does having been to the classic once prior help?
Jim:
Yes, I think it does because it gives you a perspective of what is to happen during the pre-week.

Q: What do you hope to gain out of this 2nd Classic experience?
Jim:
  I am always in a quest to find new ways to catch fish, so that’s what I try to gain each time I go out. On the business end of the experience, hopefully I can come away from this and entertain the idea of going full time as a pro, with the aid of the right sponsorship of course!

Q: What pattern do you anticipate using at Toho?
Jim:
Looks to be a flippin’ war to be had. Florida has been on the cooler side leading up to the tourney, so unless the weather changes to the better I think that will be the pattern.

Q: What baits do you think you’ll be using?
Jim:
  Swim jigs, chatterbaits and blades on the warmer days, beavers, crickets, craws, senkos and trick worms on the cooler days.

Q: What are your predictions on how much weight it will take per day to finish well?
Jim:
  Not 100% sure, but I know I need at least two large kicker fish a day to have a shot.

Q: What are your plans after you return from the classic?
Jim: 
If I can achieve a top 5 finish I have thought to myself that I would entertain the idea of quitting my full time job and try the tour, beyond that the skies the limit. Who knows, maybe the right sponsorship deal will come along.

The Bassmaster Classic at Lake Toho runs from February 24th through the 26th. We will track Jim’s progress and give evening updates on his experience each day. What went wrong, what went right and any adjustments he may be making. We know the entire Region is pulling for Jim and we wish him the Best of Luck at the 2006 Bassmaster Classic!!