By TJ Maglio
February 20, 2013
There are 16 anglers in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic field making their first appearance in the sport’s main event. Yamamoto angler Pete Gluszek won’t be one of them. He has fished two Classics prior to this year’s derby, being held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake Feb 22-24. However, his most recent appearance was the 1999 Classic on the Louisiana Delta. That 14-year absence is the second longest gap ever between appearances and has allowed him an interesting perspective on what it means to qualify for a chance at the ultimate prize.
“I’ve fished several other championships since my last Classic,” Gluszek mentions, “But this one is special. With all the time I’ve been spending in the industry and on the educational side of the sport, I forgot how great it is to be a Classic qualifier.”
So what kinds of things does Gluszek know now that he might not have in ‘99? “I really think it’s all about expectations. My previous experience in this and other championship events has made me much better at dealing with the distractions. Things like media work and spectator boats during the event, but also the pre-classic distractions like getting a wrap done and jerseys ordered. In ’99, there were no wraps and the event actually fished a lot more like any other tournament, so I’m glad I’ve had othe rexperiences in the interim.
Gluszek also cites his experience as the “Dean” of the Bass University as another thing that has helped him prepare for the event. “I’ve been so busy running BU events all winter and that has probably helped me keep the right level of focus on the event. It’s definitely possible for an angler to put too much focus into a tournament and then lose their perspective. Running the Bass University has also allowed me to become more comfortable with crowds, the media, and the industry which will also make me more comfortable once we get to Tulsa.”
Another difference between Gluszek in ‘99 and today is that has become a lot more relaxed and focused, something he would have definitely pointed out if he could somehow speak to his younger-self prior to the ’99 event. “I would have told that kid to just relax and fish his strengths.” Meaning that back then, he was often more worried about his results or what everyone else was saying than the process of getting there.
“In the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about how I win tournaments. When I’m fishing my best, I’m not the high-energy, jump all around the lake type of guy. I call it a relaxed intensity, by which I am able to completely focus on the process, which in turn leads to my success.”
Gluszek’s maturity, confidence, and experience are not the only things that have changed in fourteen years. The event and even the sport itself are significantly different, which resulted in a much different practice strategy than he could have attempted years ago.
“It’s amazing how much different the actual tournament process is when you compare it to a decade ago. There are so many resources out there that can help you before you even lay eyes on the tournament waters. It used to be that you go fish to find your fish. With advances like Google Earth and the internet, you can get past tournament results and figure out what to expect before you even get there.”
Gluszek did take a scouting trip before the lake went off limits and spent several days scouting for likely locations throughout a variety of possible conditions. “I really just idled around and used side imaging, which is another tool we didn’t have in ’99. I thought my pre-practice went really well and I was able to break the lake down into different cover types. I have a ton of structure marked.”
Focus on Baits
In all the tactics discussions you are reading about leading up to the event, there is a lot of talk about jerkbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits… Might this be another year where plastics don’t weigh heavily in the top-finisher’s arsenals?
Not so fast, says Gluszek, “A lot of that talk was farther out when we thought we were gonna get an extremely cold winter and that water temps would be in the 30’s and 40’s. Barring a massive cold front between now and then, the water temps will likely be in the 50’s somewhere, which I consider perfect plastics weather.”
Two GYCB staples that Gluszek plans to employ on Grand Lake are the Senko and the Double Tail Hula Grub. “I’ve been throwing Senkos for almost as long as they’ve been around and it’s a major confidence bait for me. You can expect me to have at least a couple on the deck at the start of practice and with the water being warmer than a lot of people thought, I anticipate Senkos will play more of a factor.”
The Double Tail Hula Grub is also one of Gluszek’s standbys and he plans to take a “real heavy - real light” approach depending on the conditions. “If we get a cold front where the water temp is dropping; that Hula Grub fished with really light weight is one of the best finesse baits out there. Contrastingly, if the fish are staging on some deeper rocks and the weather stays consistent, I like to rig a Hula Grub upon a ¾ or 1 ounce jighead and bump it around bluff walls and stuff like that.”
As far as color choice, Gluszek typically lets the water color make his choice for him, but as he found out in pre-practice, Grand has water in almost any clarity you could ask for. “I was amazed at how diverse the water color was when I was there the first time. I found some creeks that had some good color,some that were slightly stained, and some that were pretty muddy, and that was during a relatively stable weather period, so the whole spectrum of bait color is available for use.” Gluszek’s full array of colors isn’t all that diverse though, and he says he’ll, “Be well stocked with blacks, green pumpkins, andwatermelons.”
Overall, Gluszek feels about as confident as he can be going into the event, in part due to his maturation and experience in previous tour level events, but also because he feels that he covered all his bases during the months leading up to the derby. “If I do poorly in Tulsa, it won’t be because I didn’t put in enough time studying maps, graphing structure, or planning my attack. I feel as prepared as I can be, and as long as I fish with relaxed intensity and don’t try to get away from the things that work for me, I’ve got a good chance to do really well.”