GROVE, Okla. - The 54 bass fishermen comprising the Bassmaster Classic toured Grand Lake Sunday, in search of prime aquatic real estate.
Included in the field of 54 are Ish Monroe, of Hughson, Calif., and Brandon Palaniuk, of Rathdrum, Idaho. Both are veterans and both called Sunday's reconnaissance critically important to being crowned a champion on February 24.
Monroe said Sunday is about searching for "the glory," which he defined as the area of water that nets an angler a catch each time he ties bait to his hook.
"If you get the spot, the bait and your timing, game over," he said. "You feel that spot. You know it. You know what's going to go on. You foresee it happening before it even happens."
In addition to wearing the crown of world's best bass fisherman, the winner will also take home $500,000. Second place, according to Palaniuk, isn't up for discussion.
"There's a $455,000 difference between first and second. So, I mean, it's all out. There's no such thing as second place here. If you don't win, I mean, you're just walking away a loser," he explained.
Monroe and Palaniuk share a bond. Monroe referred to Palaniuk as his little brother. Palaniuk said he looks up to Monroe as a mentor. Monroe has been instrumental in teaching Palaniuk how to handle the sponsorships that come with fishing success. That bond, however, will float adrift while the men battle for bass.
"We're friends on the water. We talk. We tell each other a little bit about what's going on, but when you're on the water," he said, "you want to beat every, single guy. It doesn't matter how good of friends you are on the water, off the water. You want to be the guy putting the beat down on the rest of these guys."
Sunday, Monroe, Palaniuk, or one of the 52 other anglers will be crowned the winner.
The Tulsa area will be crowned a winner after the tournament is complete, too. At least 100,000 fans are expected to attend the Bassmaster Classic and contribute $26 million to the economy.