WILSONVILLE, OR (March 15, 2018) – March 16 through 18 marks the three days of the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. No doubt, this tournament of tournaments is the pinnacle of all fishing competitions. This past year, 52 of the nation’s best bass anglers qualified for the prestigious event, and they’ve converged on Greenville, South Carolina to ply Lake Hartwell’s 56,000-plus acres in hopes of landing the heaviest limit of largemouth bass.
Raymarine pro John Crews
Four of those 52 – Bobby Lane, Cliff Pace, Brandon Lester and John Crews – not only proudly sport the Raymarine logo on their jerseys, but also have their boats rigged with the ultimate in multifunction navigation display technology bow to dash: Raymarine’s newest Axiom Pro 12. This year’s derby — the third Classic to take place on this huge expanse of water in the past decade — is the ultimate game of hide-and-seek. Bass hide and anglers seek, so on an expansive and complex lake like Hartwell, having the best fish-finding, navigation and situational awareness technologies onboard could easily be the key to winning the top purse.
Overall, Hartwell is 10 feet higher and 25 degrees warmer than it has been during past Classics here, which has the bass spread out in many different pre-spawn locations. All four Raymarine pros feel strongly that the instantaneous data delivered by their Axiom Pro displays will give them a clear advantage over the field.
Cliff Pace image courtesy of BASS
“Axiom Pro’s screen clarity and excellent high-speed sonar performance helped me win the Bassmaster Eastern Open on the Kissimmee Chain in Florida just last month, says Lane. “It’s going to be the same on Hartwell. It’s all about eliminating unproductive water here.”
At Kissimmee, Lane was able to locate the hydrilla fish were using at boat speeds up to 65 mph. “Here, I’ll be able to motor past docks and see which ones have brush piles near them and which ones don’t… I’ll even be able to see just how many fish are around them,” he says. “And it’s not just the speed of the Axiom Pro that makes all the difference, they’re user friendly, too. With just a couple swipes of the touchscreen or a twist of the dial, I can quickly change views and bring up the screens that will show me where to cast next,” he continues. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be the angler I am today without Raymarine’s technology.”
Axiom Pro’s built-in RealVision 3D sonar makes it easy to visualize the positions of fish relative to the boat. Simply touch and drag your finger to view the scene from any angle, instantly.
John Crews agrees, but points to Axiom Pro’s CHIRP DownVision and CHIRP SideVision as his most important features for success on Hartwell. “The last two Classics were won here with fish taken from deep water, and even though it’s warmer this time around, the weather still may have fish staged deep,” says Crews. “I can use Axiom Pro’s CHIRP DownVision to pick out just how many quality fish may be in a brush pile, as well as its ultra-clear CHIRP SideVision to quickly dissect the bottom composition, find the low-growing grass beds and know immediately within just one pass if there’s a fish on it or not.”
Crews is also bullish on Axiom Pro’s RealVision 3D feature, which provides the unique ability to see what’s below, behind, and to the sides of the boat, all at once and in three-dimensions. “RealVision 3D is an amazing tool for decoding how the standing timber is laid out,” he says. “It’s a pretty slick way to see what lies below, and could be a game changer here on Hartwell.”
CHIRP SideVision provides super-detailed images of fish, bait, timber and much more, at distances up to 600-feet!
Cliff Pace expects Hartwell’s bass to be in pre-spawn mode, yet very close to moving shallow to spawn. “I believe there’s going to be good fish caught both deep and right up to shore. And of course, my Axiom Pros will be key in finding all these fish,” he says. “The lake’s full of blue back herring and threadfin shad, and with CHIRP DownVision, I’ll be able to locate those pods of baitfish and see just how many bass are right there with them.”
Pace is also in agreement with Bobby Lane’s assessment of the importance of dockside brush piles. “The very next warm spell a lot of fish are going to move shallow and it’ll be CHIRP SideVision that helps me eliminate water by showing me docks with brush piles next to them and those without. And the weather forecast shows that this migration could be taking place right during the tournament. The winning Classic angler will have to be very versatile this time around.”
With the impending warming trend and stabilization predicted, Brandon Lester also agrees this Classic could be won either fishing deep or shallow… perhaps even both during the same day.
Meet Stephen Browning in the Raymarine booth
“I trust my Axiom Pro’s CHIRP SideVision so much that I won’t even make a cast to shallow structure that looks like it should be holding fish unless I actually see them on the screen,” says Lester. “And in deep water, DownVision will be the crucial link to finding pre-spawn bass that are gorging on baitfish as the blueback herring move around so much you could be fishing water void of predator fish if you weren’t able to see what was happening below; it’s so sensitive you can even tell if the pod of baitfish is worth following as you can literally depict the bass from the forage.”
Deep, shallow and everywhere in-between, with an array of techniques from football jigs and jigging spoons to flippin’, skipping jigs and chucking spinnerbaits… These are the predictions of the Raymarine four converging on the Classic. And it’s the array of forecasted fish locations that suggest their Axiom Pros will be the crucial link to catching success on Hartwell this weekend.
Fans are invited to stop by the Raymarine booth 3224 during the 2018 Bassmaster Classic Expo at the TD Convention Center in Greenville, South Carolina all three days to see the remarkable technology of Axiom Pro firsthand. Also, Saturday, March 17, from noon to 1 p.m., Raymarine pro Stephen Browning—who just took top honors at the 2018 Bassmaster Central Open on Mississippi’s Ross Barnett Reservoir—and the rest of the Raymarine team will be on hand to share his story how Raymarine Axiom Pro multifunction navigation displays helped him to the win.