Terry ScrogginS iS AnxioUS. The wind has been whipping up, and the forecast for the next few hours isn’t good. It’s past 9 p.m. and he’s safely tucked up in his Alabama hotel room when the first heavy
drops fall and the thunder commences. It’s been a long day
of parading in front of the fishing media for the Palatka,
Florida, angler. (Yes, there’s such a species as fishing media – a more
substantial and ravenous group than you might imagine.) Scroggins’
flashy Toyota-sponsored boat is secured on its trailer, all systems checked
and double-checked, ready for its big day tomorrow. He’ll be up at 3: 30
a.m. to take it to Lake Guntersville to fish in his 11th Bassmaster Classic,
in front of literally thousands of spectators at the blast-off and tens of
thousands more that afternoon at the weigh-in.
“You still get pumped up before the Classic,” he says. “But I don’t
get that nervous anymore. The first one is like going into high school.
You don’t know what to expect.” Scroggins, a ruddy, pleasant-faced
40-something who used to be a tow-truck driver and auto-body guy
before turning pro in 1999, is a tour veteran with 163 bass tournaments,
five first-place finishes, and 45 top 10s for a total purse of $1.6 million.
He has a penchant for hunting, saltwater fishing for grouper, and cre-
ating elaborate grilling recipes to cook them. “I don’t eat bass,” he says.
“They’re my co-workers. But I’ll dang sure eat a grouper.”
To the 55 anglers who worked hard to qualify, ready to cast off and
head out tomorrow, deteriorating weather is a big deal. Most have spent
days scoping the lake during the official practice period with high-tech
fishfinders, treasure chests of lures, and expensive rods. The prep
work will culminate three days from now with just one angler lifting
the trophy every bass fisherman dreams of and netting the substantial
$300,000 purse. The spots Scroggins has flagged as hiding the “big
ones” will be churned up, and those fish will move to who knows
where. “It’s out of my hands now,” shrugs Scroggins.
AlreAdy A Winner
Jeff Lugar has other things on his mind. The plastics production manager
from McGaheysville, Virginia, qualified through B.A.S.S. Nation, the name
given to the bass clubs throughout the country that give anglers the chance
to compete at local, state, and national tournaments, culminating in the
opportunity to fish the Classic. He’s one of six amateurs who won qualifying spots to this year’s Classic, and he will cast it out with the pros for this
once-in-a lifetime chance to show their fishing mettle.
Like many enthusiasts, they’re guys who’d love to fish profes-
sionally but whose reality is holding down a regular job to support
families and fishing habits. Lugar’s accumulated Bassmaster purse is
$450, but his successes last year helped him pick up sponsorships
from Triton, Mercury, and Lowrance, which allowed him to buy a
new boat. Tonight he says he already feels like a winner: “I’m a work-
ing guy. I don’t do this for a living. I’m excited and nervous because
I want to do well and bring fish back in. This is the Super Bowl of
fishing. It’s got the most glamour, most showmanship, and for an
amateur to be here, it’s like bringing home the gold medal!”
Lugar’s two sons Travis ( 18) and Tyler ( 14) are here to watch. “They
both love to hunt and fish, and it’s always a competition when we fish
together because they try to beat dad for bragging rights. For me, I
By Ann derMody
The winner of the annual
Bassmaster Classic, first held
in 1971, becomes the world
champion of …bass fishing.
Our managing editor went out
to Lake Guntersville, Alabama,
to cover the Super Bowl of the
sport. She came away starstruck
Main Photo: randy Howell, winner of the 2014
Bassmaster classic salutes the crowd at the BJcc
arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Bottom, left to right: Jeff lugar holds up his best catch
at the daily weigh-in.
Anglers aboard the fleet of bass boats head out at
dawn to compete.