It takes experience and time on the water to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. Chad Pipkens has all of that, and a little more.
Chad Pipkens has been fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series for only two years. With 2014 being his second year on the tour and qualifying for the Classic, you can see that Pipkens’ arrow is pointing straight up. This year, Pipkens took first place on Lake St. Clair qualifying him for the Classic. Besides that win, he has two other top tens, seven top 20s, and 12 total top 50s. Out of only 30 B.A.S.S. tournaments fished, he has placed high in almost half.
The Bassmaster Classic is right around the corner, but luckily for us, Pipkens was able to answer a few questions about how he qualified for his first Classic and what baits are his go-tos when it’s all on the line.
You just qualified for your first Bassmaster Classic. Tell us about it. How does it feel?
This is all obviously great! It’s also a big step in the career. I’m more excited about that I feel I made big strides this year. This is all a growing process between fishing and actually making a living fishing. My second year on the Elite Series I feel I did a lot better. I had a lot of great practices that allowed me to fish very clean and make better decisions.
From year one to year two, you said this was a growing process, what sort of things did you have to learn that you feel helped you qualify this year for the Classic?
It all comes down to time on the water. A lot of the lakes all fish similar and you see things and start to pick up on stuff quicker. This may sound dumb, but a big adjustment for me was learning to land fish without a net. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but there were a couple big fish that I lost that cost me a top 10, and one cost me a check my first year. I’ve stopped being so sloppy on the boat to now more relaxed in my second year, too. I still lose fish, but I never want to lose a fish to something I did wrong.
You mentioned practicing well. What exactly does that mean?
I would really get onto something in practice, but during the tournament I would find myself not being so open-minded and falling out of the top 10. Now in my second year, I find something that is working, put it down for three or four hours, and work on other stuff. I stopped trying to dissect stuff down so much in practice and instead drive around the lake for an hour and look for similar spots while taking notes.
You know, when you get on something, those fish are doing the same thing all across the board. After you find them in one place, you can just look at another area and know if you are going to catch them there too. All of that only comes with experience. The more times you can recognize those things, the quicker you can break apart water. All that means the more you are going to catch fish.
Can you credit a specific lure that put you in the Classic?
The one lure that I can say absolutely got me to the Classic is the Damiki DC 300. I caught every single fish that I weighed in on Lake Erie on that. That doesn’t happen always. Until that, the bait that I have won the most on in my career has been a Poor Boy’s Erie Darter. On lake Erie, I have probably caught 80% of all my fish on that Darter.
Be sure to check out Chad Pipkens live during the Bassmaster Classic on Bassmaster.com, or a few weeks later when the Classic is aired on ESPN. If past success is any indicator of how fishermen fish the Classic, look for Pipkens’ tournament stats to play out and allow him to place near the top, if not the top spot itself. In the meantime, you can also follow Chad on Twitter and Facebook.