You don't find too many "regular guys" who claim they're just as tough as Eddie George or can hit a baseball as far as Mark McGwire. But as all BassFans know, bass fishing -- and bass fishermen -- are different.
Not only do countless "regular guys" think they're just as good as the top touring bass pros, some of them sincerely believe that they can win against anyone -- Clunn, VanDam, Brauer, whoever -- on the water. And if that confidence helps them perform better, good for them.
Most of the time that doesn't amount to more than a bunch of talk. But once a year, at the BASS Masters Classic, five regular guys get to put it to the test. BassFan.com talked with four of this year's five B.A.S.S. Federation qualifiers to see if they think they can go toe-to-toe with the best, or whether they think they're at a disadvantage in the Classic. Here's what they had to say.
Tulgestka: Just Another Michigan Guy
Erhardt "Hardy" Tulgestka was the most aggressive out of the gate. This 38 year old from Rogers City, Mich. said he's "not at all intimidated. I'm just as good as those guys, but I don't get as recognized as they do.
"They put their pants on the same way I do," he said. "I could care less who's fishing. I can compete with the best.
"There's more than one boy from Michigan who can catch fish. He (Kevin VanDam) is good and hats off to him, but I'm not a bit worried about any of those guys. Maybe the second day, if I'm on the bottom and they're on the top, I might say something different. But I might have my guns loaded too.
"If I do (well), I do and if I don't, I don't. That's just how it works out."
Jamie Horton, 35 and from Centreville, Ala., said that the sole disadvantage he could encounter vs. the pros will occur if he's in position to win the Classic. "I'd have a camera on me and I'm not used to it," he said. "I've only had one experience with that."
On the flip side, Horton (who is not related to fellow Alabamian and Tour pro Tim Horton) said that any advantage he has from having fished Lay Lake 3-4 times per year for the last 5 years has by this time been negated. "All the pros got help from people that won't help me because I live so close. I think it balanced out."
Bottom line: everyone starts off even-Steven.
Price: Yes and No
Twenty-nine-year-old Chris Price from Church Hill, Md. said that while "normally" pros would have no advantage over the Federation guys, this time is different.
The BASSMASTER Tour pros "have had tournaments on Lay before, especially the Classic there (in 1996), and a lot of the guys have been there before," he said. "All of us have never been there except for Jamie Horton, who lives down there.
"Normally I'd say that it's anybody's game, but the guys who have fished the Classic there before have done a lot of homework previously, and that will be a help. We were starting from scratch.
"I'm not taking anything away from the Federation anglers," Price said. "We're all good fishermen. But the anglers that have been (to Lay) before will have a little advantage."
Colby: Fresh View Advantage
Ron Colby, 39 and from West Jordan, Utah, thinks the Tour pros have an advantage. "Those guys spend so much more time on the water than I can," he said. "Their knowledge, resources and memory banks as far as getting off the mark and making decisions are greater than a Federation guy's."
But sometimes a fresh take on something can outweigh experience, Price said. "I won the Federation's western regional on the California Delta in May. I'd never been there before and I'd never fished tidal water before. So sometimes a fresh view, or having no preconceived notions, can be an advantage."
The Classic Newness Factor
Whether you believe you or the above Federation anglers are just as good as the Tour pros is up to you. But one thing to keep in mind as far as the Classic goes is that Classic "newbies," or anglers new to the Classic, often are overwhelmed by the hectic schedule, media attention, pomp and circumstance, and everything else that goes on there.
None of this year's Federation crop have fished a Classic before. And though Horton thinks his experience fishing three Federation Championships has prepared him for what lies ahead next week, he and BassFans should consider this fact: when Bryan Kerchal won, it was his second Classic.
What do you think? Are the Federation guys just as good or not as good as the top pros?Click here to sound off!