Category Archives: Bassmasters Classic


Jeff Gustafson Finds $300,000 of Bassmaster Classic Gold with MEGA Live Imaging

After a dominating event in 2021 which saw Humminbird and Minn Kota pro Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson secure his first Bassmaster Elite Series win, a return to the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, Tennessee was all the more rewarding for the Kenora, Ontario native. Through three days of intense competition and changing conditions, Gustafson saw light at the end of the tunnel on his Humminbird MEGA Live™ imaging and became the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic champion.

“To come back to the place where I was able to win an Elite Series event fishing how I like, and do virtually the same thing during the Bassmaster Classic, it feels awesome,” said Gustafson. “I fished how I was comfortable and I just jive with this body of water.”

Gussy started the event off strong with a limit weighing 18-pounds, 8-ounces on day one, following that up with a day two bag weighing 17-pounds, 3-ounces, and his final day effort going 42-pounds, 7-ounces to become the second ever international Bassmaster Classic champion – the first ever champion from Canada.

To find his fish, Gussy scanned through the Tennessee river using a deadly combination of Humminbird LakeMaster® mapping with Humminbird MEGA Side and Down Imaging® to locate areas where schools of smallmouth bass were suspended over deeper water. Once located, he targeted individual groups the same way he did in 2021, and picked off each bass using MEGA Live to seal the deal.

“When I won the Elite event here a couple years ago, I relied heavily on MEGA 360 Imaging and Humminbird 2D Sonar,” added Gustafson. ”Adding MEGA Live this week, I could still pick out rocks and other hard bottom areas on 360, but I could be much more efficient with my bait presentation and quickly learn how the fish were behaving – getting them to bite in real time.”

Dating back to his victory in 2021 to today, Gussy has now led seven straight days of Bassmaster events on the Tennessee River. Locating and presenting his bait to suspended smallmouth bass on creek channels; similar to how he fishes back home in Canada. Gussy caught his tournament-winning weight by keeping his bait just above the fish – which he was able to do accurately and clearly with Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging. Once he had his fish hooked, he was able to use Spot-Lock® on his Minn Kota Ultrex™ to keep his boat positioned on high-percentage areas allowing him to stay on top of the schools of fish he was targeting.

“Those first couple days, it looked easier than it was to get those suspended fish to bite,” he added. “Between catching short fish and the fish not committing to the bait, it was tough to catch five bass a day. It got tougher and tougher each day, and you could see how the pressure affected them on the final day.”

Day three proved tough for the championship Sunday field of anglers as Gussy’s fish became pressured and the legal sized smallmouth bass were harder to come by. One keeper smallmouth bass early in the morning got his day started but it wasn’t until after the mid-way point when he finally landed his second keeper. He knew that with MEGA Live Imaging on his Humminbird APEX™ unit, simply catching five keeper smallmouth bass would give him a chance to take the title.

While the last day was not what Gussy would have wanted, the two fish he brought back to the scales were just enough to secure his dream coming true: winning the Bassmaster Classic.

“This is unbelievable. I truly cannot describe what this means to me and to the folks that have supported me on my journey to get here,” said Gustafson. “It was a hard way to win this event; but we won, and we’re bringing this trophy up to Canada for the first time ever and that’s super special to be able to say. I have a lot of respect for the anglers I compete against, the anglers that came before me and the meaning behind winning the first Ray Scott Bassmaster Classic Trophy is indescribable.”

“This weekend was truly incredible and it could not have happened to a better person. You won’t find a single person in the industry that doesn’t love Gussy, and we couldn’t have more pride in him being on our team,” said Field Promotions Manager, Tim Price. “His character is one we model our team after and this win is much deserved. We’re excited to celebrate Gussy and his family in this win, and look forward to seeing what the future holds for him and his career.”

To learn more about Humminbird, click here.

To learn more about Minn Kota, click here.

About Johnson Outdoors

JOHNSON OUTDOORS FISHING is comprised of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fish finders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products. Minn Kota is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.

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JOHNSON OUTDOORS is a leading global outdoor recreation company that inspires more people to experience the awe of the great outdoors with innovative, top-quality products. The company designs, manufactures and markets a portfolio of winning, consumer-preferred brands across four categories: Watercraft, Fishing, Diving and Camping.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Professional Bass Fisherman?

Pro bass fishermen at the Bassmasters Classic give young antlers advice on becoming a pro bass fisherman


from The Fishing Wire

What It Means To Be A Pro

Forestville, WI (February 9, 2022) – What defines a professional angler? Ask someone off the street and they’ll likely describe fancy boats, bright lights and big fish. Ask those who stand atop the leaderboard, however, and they’ll tell a different story – one of hard work, determination, and the efforts of many other industry pros who have helped them succeed.

“You can’t get to the top without others to lift you up,” says, Patrick Neu, president of the 1,400-member non-profit National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA). “Nobody reaches the pinnacle of professionalism in this industry without a lot of help. That’s exactly why the NPAA is inviting fishing industry workers of every type to join our ranks. Our purpose is to grow and protect sportfishing while providing our members the tools and association benefits needed to increase their professionalism and meet individualized goals.”

To be sure, professionalism in the fishing industry is wide ranging, a point not lost on the organization and its members. “Being a fishing industry ‘pro’ is a pretty loose term,” says NPAA member Chad Pipkens, a ten-year full-time veteran of the Bassmaster Elite Series and five-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier from Dewitt, Michigan, who spent several years prior honing his skills on a variety of smaller trails before acquiring the knowledge, money and flexibility of time needed to compete at the highest levels.

“Professional doctors diagnose and treat patients, teachers instruct students, pro golfers receive PGA cards, and electricians need a license to perform electrical work,” Pipkens says. “These are all well-defined fields of specialization. By comparison, the fishing world encompasses many different job opportunities. Sure, tournament anglers, captains and guides are fishing professionals, but so are the highly skilled mechanics that work on your engine as well as the folks who run the marina, design lures, sell fishing tackle, manage anglers and staff the tournament trails.

“To me,” Pipkens continued, “anyone making meaningful money or striving to earn a living in this industry should qualify as a pro. If you don’t want to be on the water day in and day out, but you still want to be in the industry, you can find the contacts amongst our membership to maybe make that happen.”

“Anyone making meaningful money or striving to earn a living in this industry should qualify as a pro.”

According to Pipkens, the NPAA does a great job of teaching aspiring pros how to run a fishing-related business through their seminars, annual conference and approachable members who have already achieved success. “NPAA membership can shorten your learning curve and raise your professionalism at any level,” he points out. “It’s a great organization for learning the ins and outs of running your own business; whether that’s tech stuff, accounting, how to network or get paid by more than one employer, it certainly can help shorten your learning curve.”

As a pro angler, Pipkens says his life is organized chaos; getting the boat ready, crisscrossing the country, and being on the road for five weeks at a time while never losing his family focus. He often practices on the water from sunrise to sunset. Despite the pressure to win, tournaments are actually the fun part of his routine. “Balancing all the rest,” he says, “is what really makes you a professional.”

For tournament pros, guides and charter captains in particular, there is a ton of preparation that takes place behind the scenes, notes John Campbell, an NPAA founding member and full-time guide. A Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame member inducted in 2018, Campbell managed to win both the Pro Walleye Trail Detroit River and FLW Lake Ouachita championships. He also qualified for a major walleye championship every single year from 1989 to 2011 while on the pro tour. That’s 22 consecutive years, if you’re counting.

Like Pickens, Campbell agrees publicly visible aspects of being a tournament angler or guide help solidify your status as a professional, but the business end of things is vitally important. “Sure, you’ve got to pre-fish, choose your lures, maintain your gear, set up the boat and put in plenty of time on the road,” he notes, “but you also have to learn to book charters, carefully plan out your competition schedule, promote your sponsors and tend to family matters. Earning money and winning tournaments is vital, but also important is finding ways to help grow the sport through sharing knowledge and getting more kids involved.”

As a professional guide, Campbell is in the business of educating anglers. “To me, helping others learn the game is the sign of a true pro,” he states, adding that this is exactly the kind of people you’ll network and rub elbows with in the NPAA. “This organization supported over 100 Future Angler clinics in 2021 alone. With support from the Future Angler Foundation, it’s member volunteers also distributed over 4,000 NPAA Future Pro T-shirts and 3,000 rod/reel combos to kids at NPAA Future Angler education events. That, I believe, is professionalism at its finest.”

For information on joining the NPAA and exploring the many benefits membership provides, visit

Hank Cherry Wins Bassmasters Classic – Two In A Row

Berkley pro relies on new bait designed in conjunction with Berkley scientists to become fourth angler to win back-to-back Bassmaster Classic championships.
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 13, 2021) — After he won his first Bassmaster Classic in 2020, Berkley pro Hank Cherry and the Berkley bait scientists set out to develop the ultimate jerkbait. More than just one of Cherry’s favorite ways to catch bass and a presentation with which the North Carolina native has become synonymous, the team believed it could produce a bait that would work year-round in any fishery and, hopefully, be a factor in the 2021 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts. 
All the off-season homework paid off.
Cherry brought 13 pounds, 1 ounce to the weigh-in stage on the final day of the 2021 Bassmaster Classic, giving him a three-day combined weight of 50 pounds, 15 ounces. With the win, Cherry pockets the $300,000 first-place prize and etches his name into the history books as only the fourth angler to win the Bassmaster Classic in consecutive years. 
“This is the biggest honor I could ever dream of as a kid,” said Cherry about winning the Bassmaster Classic for a second time. “I have fulfilled my childhood fantasy two times now. That hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Cherry said six of the 15 fish he weighed in during the championship event came on the Stunna, including some of his biggest fish. Cherry said he threw the size 112+1 Stunna in Stealth Shad on 15-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. He paired the line and bait selections with an Abu Garcia Zata casting reel (7.1:1) mounted on a 6-foot-10-inch Abu Garcia Winch rod.
In addition to tipping his flipping jigs with the soon-to-be-released Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Chigger Craw, Cherry said he turned to a 4-inch Berkley PowerBait Pit Boss in Green Pumpkin. He flipped the Texas-rigged Pit Boss on a 4/0 Fusion19 hook with 20-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon spooled on an Abu Garcia Revo STX (7.3:1) paired with the new Abu Garcia Veritas PLX Tournament rod.

The new Berkley Stunna features Berkley’s first tungsten weight-transfer system and a unique brass block weighting system that delivers a slow sink and slight shimmy in the water. With an action that engages quicker with a larger roll, increased bill durability and ultra-sharp Fusion19 hooks, the Stunna comes in 14 colors and two different dive depths. The 112 size runs 3 to 6 feet deep while the 112+1 runs 6-10 feet deep. Both styles weigh 1/2 ounce and have a fall rate of 1 foot per 8 seconds.
“We went through 38 different incarnations of this bait before getting it just right, as evidenced by the response to the Stunna by both our pros and the bass they are catching on it,” said Berkley Senior Vice President of Marketing Jon Schlosser. “The bait looks incredible whether it’s being jerked, twitched or even with sweep-and-pause retrieves. The bait’s 180-degree head turns and side flash trigger bites from aggressive fish and the slow, natural sinking action has proven to be extremely effective on not-so-aggressive bass.
“None of the bait’s unique performance features would be possible without Hank’s vision and the tireless work of our bait scientists. We congratulate Hank on back-to-back Bassmaster Classic championships and celebrate this victory with him and the entire Berkley team. Hank and the Stunna will be linked forever thanks to this historic win, which we are sure will not be the last one for this exciting new bait.”
The new Berkley Stunna is scheduled to reach retail outlets in July. Anglers looking to be among the first to get their hands on the bait first are encouraged to contact their favorite tackle shops.
To learn more about Berkley products and the company’s legacy for research and innovation, go to
About Pure Fishing
Pure Fishing, Inc. is a leading global provider of fishing tackle, lures, rods and reels with a portfolio of brands that includes Abu Garcia®, All Star®, Berkley®, Fenwick®, Fin-Nor®, Frabill®, Greys®, Hardy®, Hodgman®, Johnson®, JRC®, Mitchell®, Penn®, Pflueger®, Plano®, Sebile®, Shakespeare®, SpiderWire®, Stren®, Ugly Stik®, and Van Staal®.

Second-Annual Celebrity Fishing Tournament on Lake Lewisville

Academy Sports + Outdoors Hosts Second-Annual Celebrity Fishing Tournament on Lake Lewisville

Deion Sanders, Jimmie Allen, Maddie & Tae, Marcus Spears and Sheryl Swoopes to compete in fishing tournament for charity

WHAT:  To kick off the 2021 Bassmaster Classic, Academy Sports + Outdoors presents the second-annual Celebrity Fishing Tournament on Lake Lewisville. Members of the bass fishing community, influencers, sports legends and country music stars will hit the water to test their fishing skills with pro anglers serving as their guides. The first-place team will make a charity donation to the benefactor of their choosing. 

WHO: This year’s anglers include three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and former professional basketball player Sheryl Swoopes, NFL legends Deion Sanders and Marcus Spears, and country music stars Jimmie Allen and Maddie & Tae.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 9th, 2021


WHERE: Lake Lewisville
               Sneaky Pete’s: 2 Eagle Point Rd, Lewisville, TX 75077


* Event and launch location and timing are subject to change based on weather restrictions. 

Fishing Lay Lake with Chandler Holt and Zeke Gossett

I am always amazed at fishing in Alabama.  Tuesday morning, I met Curtis Gossett, a high school bass fishing team coach, and Chandler Holt, a senior on his team, to get information for my April article. 

Curtis’s son, Zeke, is a senior on a college team.  I did an article with Zeke six years ago when he was just a sophomore in high school with his dad as coach and was very impressed with him.

Chandler was impressive, too, with great fishing skills and knowledge of Lay Lake.  He quickly caught a 3.5-pound spot then I caught a largemouth just over four pounds.  A little later Curtis got a largemouth right at four pounds.  So we had three nice fish in the five hours we fished, plus some smaller fish.

Chandler fished the High School Championship on Lay the following weekend and weighed-in on the Bassmasters Classic stage just before the pros weigh-in on Saturday.  He placed Second.

On Sunday Zeke fished the college championship and weighed-in on the Classic stage that day, and he won. Zeke was practicing while I fished, and he caught five spotted bass weighing a total of 20.17 pounds in five hours!   

Watch for both these young men next weekend and in the future!

Rapala Pro’s Make Predictions for Bassmasters Classic

Rapala DT 6

Rapala Pro’s Make Predictions for Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville
Here’s a look at what some of the competitors think might be the winning combination at the Bassmaster Classic, kicking off today at Guntersville, Alabama.

Whether the fish move shallow or remain around offshore cover and structure this week, Bassmaster Classic competitors will catch many big bass on crankbaits, Rapala pros agree. Other go-to baits will likely include lipless crankbaits.

“A lot of those baits that will be key this week are your standard, classic springtime baits,” said Rapala Pro Seth Feider, a three-time Classic qualifier from Minnesota. “I don’t know if that will change, even with changing conditions. The colors you tie on might change if the water gets real dirty.

But I can guarantee some fish are going to get caught on a Rapala DT-6, no matter what.

”First-time Classic qualifier Patrick Walters agreed.“DT-6, of course,” said Walters, a second-year Elite Series Rapala pro from South Carolina. “Some DT-10 too. I think your key baits are going to be shallow- to mid-diving crankbaits and lipless crankbaits. I think we’ll be getting reaction strikes on something moving fast with trebles on it.”

DT stands for “dives to.” A DT-6 dives to a max depth of six feet; a DT-10 to 10 feet. Built of balsa wood, Rapala’s signature material, DT-series cranks wobble while swimming and deflect off cover to trigger bites from bass around both grass and rock.

If stable or falling water positions Guntersville’s bass this week in offshore, submerged vegetation, Classic competitors will swim DT’s over the top of it, making occasional contact and ripping free. If rising water draws bass to the bank, the pros will cast them around hard-bottom shorelines, making constant bottom contact on the retrieve and caroming off wood and rock cover.

The lipless crankbaits you’ll see Rapala pros slinging in the Classic are Rapala Rippin’ Raps and Storm Arashi Vibes. Those baits, along with DT-6’s, are “pretty traditional, Guntersville-type baits,” said Cody Huff, a collegiate Rapala pro-staffer competing in his first Bassmaster Classic. “You’re going to catch ‘em on those.”

A Storm Arashi Vibe helped Rapala Pro Ott DeFoe win last year’s Bassmaster Classic on Fort Loudon Lake, another Tennessee River reservoir. On the 2019 Classic’s first day, four bass in DeFoe’s 20-pound limit came on a Vibe, including a 6-pounder that was the biggest bass caught that day by any competitor. A 4-pound, 7 ounce bass he caught in the championship round on a Vibe allowed him to cull a smaller fish, solidifying his win.

Lipless crankbaits like the Vibe excel in the spring, when bass are first pulling up from deeper water and moving close to shallow spawning areas. Vibes start swimming at slower speeds than do other lipless crankbaits. They fall slower too, allowing you to fish them in shallower water at a slower speed. Featuring a soft-knock rattle, Vibes emit a unique single-cadence, low-pitch sound that attracts attention without alarming tentative fish. Storm is a Rapala Respected Brand.

First-time Classic competitor Bob Downey said he will be among the pros slinging DT-6’s and Arashi Vibes this week. “The DT-6 I don’t think will be a surprise to many people,” said the first-year Elite Series pro, a Minnesota native. “I’ve been catching some pretty good fish on it – good quality keepers and some that are above average.”

Offshore grass or shallow banks? Especially in the spring, when weather and water conditions can change quickly, bass tend to move a lot.“The more the water level drops, the more fish are going to be caught around deep water, with deeper-running crankbaits, towards the main river,” Walters predicted. “The more it comes up, the more they’ll be caught in pockets and up on the bank.”

Rapala pros interviewed on Monday said they were expecting higher water by Friday, because a lot of rain had been forecast. And higher water, they said, would likely pull bass away from offshore grass in which many were found last weekend in practice. Although not all the Rapala pros want that to happen.Feider, for one, said he hoped water levels wouldn’t rise, because that would keep offshore grass in play.

“I’d rather fish in the grass versus around the bridges or the riprap,” he said.

Huff expressed similar wishes.“What I’m really hoping for is that we don’t have too much rain,” he said. “I hope the river continues to drop, and not rise. If the river continues to drop, they’ll start to group up really good on some of those good offshore places in the grass, where you don’t have to just catch one here, one there. It’s a lot more fun when you can pull up, make one cast to get the school fired up, and then catch ‘em one after another.”

Walters, on the other hand, will be happy if water levels rise and pull bass to the bank.

“That’s what I’m hoping for,” he said Monday. “I’m a bank-beater by heart.”

If the bass move shallow, Walters said, those fish could be relatively unpressured – a rarity on a popular tournament and recreational-fishing reservoir like Guntersville. “They’ll be up there and we’ll kind of get the first stab at them,” he said.

Interviewed Wednesday evening after his final practice round, Downey said water levels and conditions had not changed dramatically in his areas.“I caught most of my fish [Wednesday] similar to how I caught them last weekend,” he said. “So it didn’t really change a lot for me yet.”

Late Wednesday evening, more rain rolled through the area and continued through mid-afternoon Thursday. Clear, sunny skies were forecast for Friday and Saturday with clouds returning on Sunday.

No matter how the weather ends up positioning the fish, Rapala pros agreed they will need to tailor their gameplans to prevailing conditions.

“All I can do is start where they were and then just kind of let the day unfold,” Feider explained. “I’m just going to have to keep an open mind and adjust.”

“I enjoy fishing pretty shallow,” Downey said. “If they pushed shallow – more towards the banks – I wouldn’t mind that at all. But I would have to make some adjustments.”

2020 Bassmasters Classic Fans Are Different

The 2020 Bass Masters Classic is being held on Lake Guntersville March 6 – 8 with weigh-ins held in Birmingham.  This is the biggest tournament of the year on the pro circuit.

 I was quoted in Sports Illustrated a few years ago saying, “The Super Bowl is the Bassmasters Classic of football,” a twist on the usual comment.  I had no idea a writer for that magazine was sitting near me on the bus going to practice day on the lake for the pros.   

One thing some don’t understand about the fan support of pro fishermen. We are different from other pro sports.  We may watch our favorite pro catch bass on TV today then go out and try to catch them ourselves tomorrow, using the same baits and equipment the pro used.   

Other pro sports fans are viewers only.  They may have played the sport years ago in high school or even college, but almost none will be competing on the field tomorrow.  Bass fishermen keep competing all their lives.  

I have been lucky enough to spend time in the boat with many of the pros, including five of the 53 competing in this year’s Classic.  After hours of watching how they fish and questioning them on what they are doing and why they chose to do that, it always amazes me that they fish just like the rest of us. They just catch more and bigger fish.   

The Bassmasters Classic is a big event. I will not be able to attend this year but a trip to Birmingham next weekend to attend the huge outdoor show, meet the pros and watch weigh-ins would be a great way to spend some winter days.  Then you can come home and go fishing with the baits and equipment you bought at a discount at the show, fishing just like them.

An Insiders Guide to Lake Guntersville

An Insiders Guide to Lake Guntersville Before the Bassmaster Classic
By J. Scott Butherus
from The Fishing Wire

Lake Guntersville, the site of the action for the 2020 Bassmaster Classic, has a history of producing scale-busting bags during tournaments. It also has a reputation for breaking the wills of otherwise talented anglers with disappointing days.

Oftentimes, there isn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason separating those two things. So what exactly does it take to catch those famous Lake Guntersville lunkers? How do you get more boom than bust when it comes to bass at this year’s Classic?

We sat down with three Power-Pole pros — Chris Lane, Randall Tharp and Justin Lucas — who happen to know a little something about this year’s venue in Alabama and asked them for their insider tips for how to conquer the Big G.

Lucas, originally a California native, moved to Lake Guntersville nearly a decade ago to help further his pro fishing career. Lucas was the 2018 Bassmaster Angler of the Year when he gained a reputation for working vegetation to find the really big fish. The amount of vegetation might end up being a hindrance, however, for this year’s event.

“One thing that has been really interesting this year is the amount of eel grass in the lake. There has been two mile stretches of the river that you couldn’t even make a cast because there was so much floating eel grass. You have to keep that in mind because you might have the perfect spot with lots of fish but you aren’t going to be able to fish it effectively.

“If it was me, I’d have plenty of backup plans because you can have a winning hole and never be able to get into it. I’d probably have a couple of creeks where I could get as far away from that eel grass as I can.

”Lane, a former Classic champion, has made his home on Lake Guntersville, so he understands how quickly the fish can move from one part of the lake to the next. For him, finding the schools will depend on the conditions of the lake itself which can change rapidly with the weather.

“Weather plays a massive role when it comes to fishing Lake Guntersville in the early spring because you can have pouring down snow, you can have sleet or you can have a 65-70 degree day. All of that is going to be a big variable.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of downpour and the lake is as high as it’s ever been. Guntersville will fluctuate normally only two to three feet because of the amount of barge traffic that comes through there. We are right there in the horseshoe and that’s where those big, big bass get in there. They love it in those currents and those eddies. When you have that much current and that much rain coming down, you have to pay attention to that.

”Tharp has plenty of experience fishing the lake in tournament situations. The former Birmingham, Alabama native began his competitive fishing career there with the Bassmaster North Alabama regionals in 2005 and has put that expertise to his advantage ever since, including a fifth place finish in the 2014 Classic.

“For me it was always about winding stuff around with a horizontal presentation. I love fishing a lipless bait, a crank bait or a vibrating jig. Those are the big three lures. A jerk bait does play if there are extreme cold front conditions but I’ve narrowed it down to those three or four techniques because they allow you to cover tons of water with them. You have to cover big grass flats.

“A lot of it is water temperature dependent so the colder the water, the slower you’ll need to fish them. There does come a time, and it looks like we are approaching that time, when the water temperature hits that magical 55-60 degrees and it doesn’t matter how fast you reel. It does look like we are shaping up to where the big ones are going to feed regardless.

”Of course all three of the pros agreed that properly utilizing their Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchors would play a vital role in all of those situations.

“If you are in the main river, you can anchor down and hold your boat in the strong currents while you cast upcurrent and let your bait come down in a natural way,” Lucas said. “Me personally, after I was done doing that, I would troll around to the upside and make those casts in the other direction to show the fish a new angle.”

“There’s no doubt. Even when they are feeding aggressively you’ll need to make multiple presentations. Sometimes you’ll find that grass flat that you feel really good about and that’s when it is time to Power-Pole down and make repeated casts at the same piece of cover,” Tharp said.

“When you can Power-Pole down and not get on that school of fish (by drifting over them), you can sometimes sit there and catch them on every single cast,” Lane said.

Manners when the B.A.S.S. Classic Comes to Town

Classic Takeoff

Let’s Mind Our Manners when the B.A.S.S. Classic Comes to Town
By Frank Sargeant High-dollar bass tournaments like the Bassmaster Classic, scheduled for Lake Guntersville March 6-8, are a great potential learning experience for local anglers as they get the opportunity to follow the top pro’s around on the lake and see how and where they fish and what tackle and boat they use.

And most of the pro’s actually enjoy the gallery of rooting fans—after all, the more popular they are, the more sponsor money they make.But a large gallery can also affect the outcome of the event. Big names like Kevin Van Dam (who won’t be at this Classic because he moved to the MLF circuit) sometimes have 20 or more boats roaring after them down the lake and gliding up behind them as they drop the trolling motor to fish. While lots of fans are a plus at a football or basketball game, on the water at a bass tournament, not so much. Bass don’t take kindly to the sound of outboard motors, or even of a dozen whirring trolling motors in their neighborhood. Some anglers believe they’re even put off by the “ping” of fish finders.

So while the well-meaning fans are cheering for their favorite, they may actually be reducing his chances of success. This is particularly true when an angler gets on an extended stretch of “hot” shoreline, where bass may be scattered over a hundred yards or so of terrain that the angler may want to work multiple times. As the gallery slides in behind him as he works down the structure, they turn off the bite that might have been active on repeat passes.

The best way to follow the anglers is from a distance, and carry binoculars so that you can see the lures they’re using and how they’re fishing them. This gives everybody a bit of breathing room, and hopefully won’t affect the outcome of the event. There are also some anglers who can’t wait until the tournament is over to try the new holes that the smart pro’s reveal to them. As soon as the pro angler pulls off, they pull on and start casting.

This makes things a lot more difficult in that spot on the next day when the angler returns to the spot again during the three day event. To be sure, the lake is a public asset and all of us have a completely equal right to fish anywhere in it at any time. Paying a tournament entry fee does not give any special rights. On the other hand, when you consider that the pro anglers are fishing an event where one successful cast could change the course of their lives, it seems only common courtesy to maybe save their spots to the GPS for future use but leave them alone for those few days of the competition.

In any case, for those who want to follow their heroes, the daily launches are at Civitan Park just off S.R. 69 on the Brown’s Creek arm of the lake at 7 a.m. B.A.S.S. welcomes spectators with free coffee, and a number of top boat manufacturers are on-site offering test drives of their latest bass boats. (You can’t launch at Civitan during the event, though—choose one of the other ramps around the lake.)

For those who can’t get out on the lake, the weigh-ins are at BJCC in Birmingham, with arena doors opening at 3:15 p.m. daily for the weigh-ins. The Classic Outdoors Expo, also at BJCC, opens at noon on Friday, 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 

See more here: 

Bassmaster Classic Returns To Alabama in 2020

Bassmaster Classic returns to Alabama in 2020 on Guntersville
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

(Photo Credit B.A.S.S.)

Bassmasters Classic

The 50th annual Bassmasters Classic has been announced for Alabama’s Lake Guntersville March 6-8, 2020, with daily weigh-ins and the associated Outdoors Expo set for Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center in downtown Birmingham.

The event has become a sort of World Series and Superbowl combined for those who love competitive bass fishing, and holding it in Alabama for the golden anniversary is bringing it to the heart of the sport—Ray Scott of Montgomery came up with the idea of a national bass tournament circuit in 1970 and the first Classic was held at Lake Mead, Nevada in 1971.

Bass Anglers Sportsman Society—B.A.S.S.—was the membership group Scott put together to support the tournament system as well as educate bass anglers and promote fishery conservation, a relatively unknown concept in fresh water at that time. The time was right and Scott’s promotional abilities, combined with smart use of media, soon built the ranks to a half-million members, largest paid fishing club membership in history by a large margin.

The group was headquartered in Montgomery for many years before being moved to Celebration, Florida, just outside Orlando, when purchased by ESPN in 2001. It came back to Alabama and its current headquarters in Birmingham in 2011 when sold by ESPN to a group of investors, including fishing TV mogul Jerry McKinnis and Time, Inc. exec Don Logan.

The Classic—which is a life-changing experience for the annual winner, awarding a prize of $300,000 in cash—is also a boon for the communities where it’s held, filling up hotels and restaurants for days leading up to and during the event. This year’s event in Knoxville, Tenn., generated an estimated $32.2 million according to the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission, and was visited by a total of over 150,000 people considering all the venues including daily take-offs, weigh-ins at the convention center and the daily gate at the Outdoors Expo. Local and state governments also benefit—the Tennessee Classic generated $2.75 million in state and local tax revenue, including taxes on sales, restaurant purchases and lodging.

The Guntersville/Birmingham event is more spread out than the Knoxville Classic, with the lake some 75 miles from the weigh-ins. The weigh-ins require a large venue, and Legacy Arena can seat close to 20,000—nothing else near Guntersville approaches that. The adjacent expo halls also have the vast square footage necessary to hold the Expo, which has become the largest consumer fishing show on the planet. Many companies in the tackle and fishing boat business use the Expo to reveal their new-for-the-year products.

It also probably does not hurt that this Classic will allow the B.A.S.S. staff to sleep in their own beds—the home offices are located on the southeast side of town.

The daily Classic weigh-ins are worth a visit even for those who have no interest in fishing. With thunderous music, mind-bending light shows and lots of stage smoke, they’re more akin to a big-budget rock music show than a fishing tournament, and the anglers are made into stars.

The program has worked very well for a lot of the top tournament anglers, who are now wealthy men, not only from tournament winnings but also from endorsement and sponsorship deals with companies in the fishing and bass boat business. (We advisedly say “men”—though women are welcome to compete in B.A.S.S. events, none have ever made their way to the Elite Circuit level.)

(Photo Credit B.A.S.S.)
Unfortunately, a lot of those wealthy men won’t be at next year’s event. They fled the home group seeking even greater financial rewards with the new Major League Fishing circuit. Van Dam, Evers, the Lee brothers, Howell, the Lane brothers, Iaconelli, Powroznik and many others are gone—understandably, for it is about business, after all, on all sides. The new MLF made-for-video circuit has proven an exciting and competitive venue so far, and live broadcast combined with the pocket viewing devices that are universal these days seem to spell success.

B.A.S.S. has responded to the new rival by reducing the size of the Elite field (and thus increasing the percentage of each angler winning a given event), vastly increased payouts (including three no-entry fee events that will pay out $1 million each), reducing entry fees and providing every angler with a check—the last place angler in each event earns at least $2500, the first $100,000.

There are not a lot of household names left in the Elite field, but Kevin Van Dam was an unknown boat salesman from Kalamazoo before he entered his first major B.A.S.S. event in 1990. The Classic and the media know-how of the B.A.S.S. team likely will create a new generation of bassing heroes, and it will all get underway next March in Birmingham. It should be well worth attending. (Visit for details.)