With the Classic just around the corner we took the time to talk to Bassmaster Open and FLW Everstart angler Josh Douglas about his predictions for the tournament.  Josh has put in some time on Grand Lake this time of year and has some insight into what we might see next week.
BE:      For those unfamiliar with Grand Lake tell us a little bit more about the fishery.  What will the Bassmaster Classic competitors be facing next week?
Josh:      A lot of people have been griping about this classic and it could be a tough tournament if the weather doesn’t cooperate, but being in Northeast Oklahoma the fish are pretty conditioned to colder water.  That being said I feel that Grand Lake is the best non-grass lake in the country and someone is really going to whack them.
The only thing that could really shut the lake down is a lot of rain.  The location of the lake makes it vulnerable to water draining off of the plains causing it to muddy up really bad.  Cold water, cold air, and muddy water could make for a tough bite but I still think the anglers will get them.
The lake is really deep as well.  There have been times I’ve been on the lake and pitched away from the bank only to look at my graph and see that I’m in 100 feet of water.  There are no weeds at all in this lake and the creek channels can be as deep as 70 feet.  The banks there kind of look like a shelf where near shore it will initially drop to 8 to 10 feet right away then drop 10 more feet to 20 then down to 60.  I think a lot of guys will be glued to their electronics during practice and using their Navionics maps to do well in this tournament.

BE:     What techniques or strategies do you think anglers will have to focus on to be successful on Grand Lake and be in the hunt to win the tournament?
Josh:    Around this time of year points, docks, and the right kind of rock can be crucial to finding fish.  Points on the main river channel can be key, especially when the water is relatively clear.  They can often produce a good jerkbait or swimbait bite.  Crankbaits, Carolina rigs, and football jigs always do really well there as well.
If the water is dirty I think a lot of guys will be focusing on bluff rock, wherever the creek channels bump up against some of the coves in the lake.  A lot of times big fish will get in these areas and I’ve had a lot of success targeting those key areas with a black and blue jig.
I think if the water is clear someone powerfishing, throwing a jerkbait, and covering a lot of water will have a good chance to win this tournament.  If the water is dirty and it is a shallow bite I think that guys that are flipping the trash and pockets near the creek channels with a jig will do really well.  The anglers that can read their Navionics maps really well will be able to key into certain points, certain pockets, and certain creek channels that will pay big dividends in this tournament.
BE:      From your experience on the lake what kind of weights do you expect it will take to win the event?
Josh:     That’s tough to say because a lot of it depends on the weather at the lake this time of year.  If there is a good bite and the weather doesn’t wreak havoc on the anglers it could take 17 to 18 pounds a day to win it maybe more.  There have been numerous days on Grand Lake this time of year where I’ve topped 25 pounds in a day and then go out the next day and only catch 8 pounds.  So I think if someone can consistently catch those 17 to 18 pounds a day they stand a good chance at winning.

BE:  Finally who do you think has the best shot of winning the classic this year?
Josh:    Jason Christie, he’s a stick and a local that has proven that he can catch them anywhere he fishes.  He won two opens last year double qualifying for the classic and has to be licking his chops for this one.  I’d imagine he knows where they’re going to be this time of year and how to catch these fish and will be a strong contender.
If it’s a tougher bite I could see guys like Aaron Martens and Mike Iaconelli doing well; guys that can get out there with a dropshot and shakey head and finesse fish.  Then again you can never count out an angler like Kevin VanDam.  He can throw a jerkbait and powerfish and really pound them.  Mike McClelland has won there before and he is lethal with a football jig which could be a deciding factor in this tournament.
In the end though depending on conditions I really think Kevin VanDam or Jason Christie will have the best shot at winning.

To learn more about Josh Douglas and follow him throughout the 2013 season visit his website www.joshdouglasfishing.com and his facebook page Josh Douglas Fishing.