Elite Series Final On Oneida Lake Is Montgomery’s Bubble-Time For Bassmaster Classic

The final Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on New York’s Oneida Lake next week will be make or break time for the season for pro Andy Montgomery.

Here’s what the BASS website had to say about Montgomery’s chances at qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic:

“Andy Montgomery narrowly missed a Bassmaster Classic berth in 2012. He was 26th going into the final tournament and slipped all the way down to 41st. This year, he’s 34th with one event to go. Making the first cut at Oneida might be enough for him to qualify for his second Classic.”

It all boils down to whether he earns a check. The first cut comes at the top 49 or 50 anglers mark and those are guaranteed $10,000. Montgomery finished 50th in the tournament on Lake Michigan at Green Bay, Wis., in June, but was the first angler out of the money, with just the top 49 earning checks. The second cut comes at the top 12 and the payout can range from $10,500 up to $100,000 or more for the winner.

Currently ranked 34th in the angler of the Year standings, Montgomery needs to fish well enough on Oneida Lake to earn a basic check. If he makes at least $10,000 next week, he probably gets his ticket punched for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake next February.

There is one little problem, however, said Montgomery.

“I’ve never been there and I really don’t know much about Oneida Lake. I have fished Lake Champlain in New York and I have it in my mind that they might be pretty similar – but they might not be. I do know Oneida has both largemouth and smallmouth bass and you can do good with either species.”

Montgomery said his early plan it to focus on the largemouth bass, but until he gets to the lake to practice he does not have any pre-conceived notions about how to fish it or what his strategy will be.

“I’m leaving Saturday and I’m going to make it a two-day drive. When I get there I’m just going to start out practicing. If I see something that looks good I will start fishing it and hopefully start catching a few so I will be able to learn a thing or two and build on that – hopefully.”

Montgomery said that, except for one good tournament, 2012 had been a fairly mediocre year for his standards.

“I feel like I fished good and I caught a lot of fish, but it just seems like I have not got any big bites, other than the Douglas Lake tournament where I finished 6th. I think I used them all up there,” he said. “It’s been one of those years where I have finished most tournaments right around the check, missing it by an ounce or two or making it by an ounce or two.”

In fact, he earned a check in four of the Elite Series tournaments so far this year – $10,000 for 40th place on the St. Johns River at Palatka, Fla., in March; $10,000 for a 42nd place finish on Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas in April; $10,000 for 29th place on the Mississippi River at LaCrosse, Wis., in June; and $13,500 for that 6th place finish on Douglas Lake in Tennessee in May.

“Right now I am the last man in for the Classic, so I pretty much have to maintain at Oneida Lake.”

If he makes the top 50 he probably gets to fish the Bassmaster Classic next February. If he holds at 34th place he will be a shoo-in.

Should he stumble at Oneida, Montgomery will have one final shot at making the Classic. He would have to win the last Southern Open of the Year in October on Smith Lake in Alabama. He would have to feel pretty good about that situation – he won the last tournament he fished on Smith Lake, the 2010 Southern Open.

No matter the outcome next week or what happens in October, Montgomery is ready for fall to get here.

“For the rest of the year I am going to hunt, hunt, hunt,” said Montgomery, an avid deer hunter. “I love to bowhunt whitetails around home and I have a deer hunting trip to Texas lined up. Then in November rabbit season opens, too.”

But he’s hoping he will have to take a break from all that time in the woods to travel to Oklahoma and pre-practice for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.


Bassmaster Elite Series

Aug 23-26, 2012

Oneida Lake

Oneida Shores Park