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After a legendary career that has seen Denny Brauer accomplish virtually everything an angler can accomplish in the sport of professional bass fishing, how does one of the elder statesman of Major League Fishing plan to go out and fish his first championship round?
By putting the blinders on, grabbing a flipping rod and going fishing.
That's Brauer's game-plan as the Jack Link's Major League Fishing 2013 General Tire Summit Cup competition comes to its final day on the 13,000-acre Chautauqua Lake in Western New York.
But Brauer notes that such fishing will come only after he's had a chance to run around the championship zone and see what is available via the 15-minute "Hot Round."
"That 15 minutes of riding around will be critical," said Brauer, who won both the Bassmaster Classic and the FLW Angler of the Year titles in 1998. "Hopefully I land right on top of them and get this thing going right."
Brauer believes that a good early start is really important in the final round, especially in light of the previous two rounds that he has fished at Chautauqua.
"I think it's critical to get off to a good start early," said the part-time Missouri, part-time Texas pro. "Both of the other rounds that I've been in, I haven't been able to do that and I've been scrambling from behind. This is one day that I don't want to be scrambling from behind.
"I want to try to get out in front and stay out in front."
Doing so could be more difficult for the sport's legendary jig-flipper: there aren't as many bass holding docks in this zone as compared to the previous ones.
Zone 2 (Championship Day 6)
Zone 2 is the premier bass area on Chautauqua Lake. Like zone 1, Zone 2 offers both shallow and deep water, with the deepest area of the lake off Lower Dewittville Bay. Some the finest lake front property is in Zone 2. For bass anglers, that means some great dock fishing action.
|Zone 2: 5.4 miles of shoreline, 2283 acres |
"I'll probably have to go flip grass (some) and do some different things," said Brauer. "But I'll just try to adapt as the day goes on."
Given its preponderance of vegetation, finding grass will not be hard on the lake or in this particular zone.
But finding the right spot in the fish holding grass, well, that could be another issue.
"That's the hard part in such a short period of time," admitted Brauer, the 1987 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year.
"In a traditional tournament, you've got practice days and you'll drop a trolling motor and you'll go down the grass edges until you stumble into a bunch of fish. You'll GPS 'em in and that's where you'll concentrate come tournament time.
"(But) this is going to be like a practice day. We're probably going to fish a lot of dead water until we find that little magic spot in the grass.
"If you find it, you're a hero, if you don't find it, you're probably not going to get any bites."
Which is one reason why Brauer acknowledged that he doesn't plan to stray too far from what has brought him this far in the dance.
"Early on, I imagine that you can flip some docks and during the (heat of the day), there will be more fish that will get around those docks," said Brauer, who comes into this event with 17 wins and $2.57 million in career earnings on his B.A.S.S. resume.
"The negative is that once you get a lot of boat traffic, waves going up and down, and people on top of those docks, docks can become very, very hard to get bites on."
How will the leader board bouncing back and forth during the final - which will be aired on NBC, Saturday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. ET/noon CT - affect Brauer?
He says not much at all.
"Well, it's interesting to watch the leader board," said Brauer. "It kind of gives you an idea of how you're doing compared to the other guys.
"But compared to how you fish, it's really not going to change what I'm going to do."
After a career of doing the right thing on the water, setting the pace in a tournament, and letting the other guys adapt and play catch-up, there's no reason to expect anything else from Brauer in the finals.