Unlike most sports, professional bass fishing stages its Super Bowl at the start of the season.
That’s where Jared Lintner will begin his eighth season as a pro on the national tour. He leaves later this week.
The Arroyo Grande resident has qualified for his fourth Bassmaster Classic, which is the richest event in pro bass fishing. The winner is awarded $500,000. More than $1 million will be paid out to the 53 participants.
Lintner’s first destination is Bella, Ark., where he will meet Bassmaster Elite buddy and tour traveling partner, Mike McClelland. Bella is nearly 1,400 miles from Arroyo Grande.
“We’ll get in some practice at lakes near Mike’s home since the Bassmaster Classic site (Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees) has been off-limits since Dec. 10,” Lintner said.
Official practice on the lake in Northeast Oklahoma will not begin until Feb. 19. The 43rd Classic will be contested Feb. 22-24. The venue has a surface area of 46,500 acres of water and 1,300 miles of shoreline. Unlike other lakes in Oklahoma, Grand Lake is a deep and mostly rocky lake. It is consistently ranked among the top bass fishing lakes in the United States.
Even prior to Oklahoma’s statehood, a member of the Cherokee tribe first envisioned Grand River as a source for hydroelectric
power for the Cherokee nation. The “o” in the name of the lake stands for of not over. Grand Lake Of the Cherokees is the official name.
The Classic is the first stop on Lintner’s journey that will span six months and include eight Bassmaster Elite competitions in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Wisconsin, New York and Michigan.
Lintner has fished Grand Lake once before, finishing 23rd during his second tour season in 2007. A 15-fish three-day weight of 46 pounds produced a $10,000 payday.
During the 2010 season, the eighth event scheduled for the Arkansas River was switched to Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma. It is near Grand Lake. Lintner finished 40th there with 14 fish weighing 37 pounds, 10 ounces.
Lintner, 39, and McClelland, 45 both gained entry into the 2013 Classic thanks to some double qualifications by several Elite Tour colleagues. The top 28 pros in the final Toyota Tundra standings, plus the eight 2012 event winners automatically qualify for the next year’s Classic. McClelland and Lintner ranked 32nd and 33rd, respectively.
Lintner earned Classic berths after each of his first two seasons on the Elite Tour. In the 2007 Classic, he placed 19th.
The 2008 Classic was at Lake Hartwell, Greenville, S.C., where Lintner settled for a 20th-place finish
He returned to the Classic after a three-year absence last year. On the Red River at Shreveport-Bossier City, La., he stumbled out the gate with three fish on the first day. His limit on day two was not enough to make the 25-angler cut before the final day of competition. Lintner’s 18-pound, 13-ounce weight for eight fish paid $10,000. He placed 35th in a field of 49 anglers.
On Sunday’s crab and sanddab trip, 13 participants brought back 337 sanddabs and 101 dungeness crabs.
These 6 a.m to noon trips are offered Fridays and Saturdays for $60. Nature cruises are scheduled Sundays and Mondays, weather permitting, and with a minimum of 10 reservations.
Call 595-7200 for reservations, more information.
Whale watching is in full swing. It’s been a great year for nature viewing sea otters, including a cute new pup. Reservations for 2013 charters are being taken. Call 772-1222.
Fishing and hunting licenses are sold in the tackle store. Crab and sanddab trips will be starting within a few weeks.
Heritage Ranch reporter Dave Rymal said he caught a 3-pound spotted bass Wednesday by drop-shotting a live nightcrawler. He released the fish. Other catches from the shores of Heritage Ranch included Craig Eckert’s Monday catch and release of eight spotted bass to 1 1⁄2 pounds and Wednesday catches of half-pound spots by George Sanderson and Mike Collins.
The best trout fishing came midweek. Trout up to 6 1⁄2 pounds were caught by trollers working the northern shorelines with a variety of Rapalas and chrome Kastmasters. Shore fishermen at E Point and Marina Point using PowerBait and crawlers experienced scratchy fishing. Some bass limits were reported but the bite has been tough, marina manger Ken Hemer said.