Category Archives: Bassmasters Classic

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 www.bassmaster.com for details.)

Get Hooked On Fishing At the Bassmaster Classic

Get Hooked On Fishing Will Put Smiles On Faces At Bassmaster Classic

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hundreds of children will get a first chance to experience the thrill that comes with the feel of a fish on the line during Bassmaster Get Hooked on Fishing presented by Toyota, Shakespeare and TakeMeFishing.org at the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Young anglers and would-be anglers will find that opportunity daily, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 15-17, outside the Knoxville Convention Center where the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’s Sporting Goods will be underway.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are, if you’ve never felt a catfish tug on your line it is a thrill,” said organizer David Healy. “The chaos ensues, and the smiles and the taking photos, every time, it’s just a fantastic thing to be a part of.”

A section of World’s Fair Drive, between World’s Fair Park and the Knoxville Convention Center, will become a playground for parents and children outside the Expo Friday through Sunday, and all experiences at the Get Hooked venue are free.

This is the third year for Get Hooked on Fishing at the Classic and an annual highlight always is the catfish pond, where hundreds of aggressive catfish are stocked and just waiting to hit a line and make a child squeal with delight. Knoxville-area B.A.S.S. junior high, high school and college anglers are lined up as volunteers to help youngsters with baiting their hooks, casting and, of course, catching a first fish.

Grownups get to hang back and stand ready to take the pictures.

Get Hooked On Fishing volunteers will give out Shakespeare rod-and-reel combos each day, while supplies last, and Toyota has a build-a-bait station where children can work with volunteers to create their own spinnerbaits with a variety of choices of blades and skirts provided by Strike King. Toyota will also have a spot where kids can learn how to make their first cast and then start to test their accuracy with a bunch of big inflatable largemouth bass as targets. And all youngsters who attend will receive free B.A.S.S. activity books.

Children and parents alike will thrill at the sights and splashes of Eukanuba Super Retriever Series Super Dock dogs sometimes soaring 20 feet or more as the best dog-and-handler teams from around the country compete on the venue.

Kids will also have a chance to Meet the Elites Friday with pro anglers Bill Lowen, Harvey Horne, Brock Mosley, Clark Wendlandt, Jay Yelas, Jesse Tacoronte, Brad Whatley, Keith Combs, Shane Lineberger and Scott Canterbury at the venue.

“It really is designed for parents who have little ones, probably about age 4 to 12 is the ideal age, but anyone can come,” Healy said. “The Expo is so big and busy and full, it’s family focused, too. But it’s cool to have this area that just focuses on the kids, where they can have maybe a 45-minute experience, and it’s all about them and having fun.”

Experienced hands at helping families find their way to the water for fishing and boating adventures, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), creators of TakeMeFishing.org, will be on hand with activity books for the kids and lots of information for parents looking for more ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

“We are so excited to welcome the Bassmaster Classic and Get Hooked On Fishing to Knoxville, and share this excitement with our community,” said Kim Bumpas, President of Visit Knoxville. “The partnership between the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission, the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the state of Tennessee was instrumental in bringing this event to our destination. We hope everyone from the folks who have been fans for decades to the littlest anglers will find ways to enjoy the Classic in Knoxville.”

The Take Me Fishing initiative has introduced thousands of children across the country to fishing and this year RBFF is partnering with B.A.S.S. not only at the Classic but for four more events, the first of which will be the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, May 4-6 at Lake Fork, near Emory, Texas. Three others are to be announced across the country, including one planned for Central Park in New York City, with that date to be announced.

“RBFF has a sterling reputation for their strategy and communication skills when it comes to engaging more people to get involved in recreational fishing,” said Angie Thompson, vice president of sales and director of Get Hooked On Fishing at B.A.S.S. “This aligns perfectly with our goal of exposing more kids to the sport. The outreach through their Vamos a Pescar program will also help us strengthen communication to Hispanic families to welcome them to the fishing family. Together we have a big opportunity to make it possible for many more kids to experience the excitement of feeling that vibration of the rod as you catch a fish.”

“It’s important to get to other communities and at other events,” Healy said. “It’s especially important to bring this to urban and minority communities where families might not have as much access to fishing. That’s one of the core missions, to give the opportunity to under-served kids.”

During the Classic, the Knoxville Boys and Girls Club will be bringing children to the Get Hooked on Fishing event daily as well, Healy said.

“It’s all pretty simple,” he said. “We’re trying to make kids smile, and maybe when they leave they’ll ask mom and dad, ‘can we go fishing some time?’”

2019 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2019 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods

2019 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2019 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia

2019 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods

2019 Bassmaster Classic Local Host: Visit Knoxville Sports Commission

2019 Bassmaster Classic Local Partners: Calhoun’s, Pilot Flying J, TVA

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. With more than 510,000 members internationally, B.A.S.S. is not only home to the nation’s premier fishing tournament trails, but it also boasts the most expansive and comprehensive media network in the fishing industry. Its media include The Bassmasters on the ESPN networks, more than 130 hours of tournament programming on the Pursuit Channel, 250 hours of on-the-water streaming coverage on Bassmaster LIVE and 1 million monthly visitors to the flagship website on bass fishing – Bassmaster.com. B.A.S.S. also provides more than 4.4 million readers with the best in bass fishing coverage through Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times, and its radio and social media programs and events reach hundreds of thousands each month.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, culminating in the ultimate event on the biggest stage for competitive anglers, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The trail also includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, BassPro.com Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series, and the Bassmaster Team Championship.

Bassmaster Classic Week

Bassmaster Classic Week Offers Tons Of Fun Things To Do And See In Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In two weeks, bass fishing fans from across the world will descend on the banks of the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tenn., for the 49th Annual GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Most are aware of the broad range of fishing-related activities that are part of “Classic Week,” but first-time visitors to Knoxville will be amazed at the diverse activities and attractions that make Knoxville a great host destination for the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.”

“Knoxville looks forward to not only showcasing our area’s beautiful waterways, but also all of the attractions, dining, entertainment and more,” said Chad Culver, Senior Director of the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission. “It’s the Tennessee River and our city’s incredible vibrancy that make Knoxville a one-of-a-kind destination and the perfect fit for the Bassmaster Classic.”

Before and after watching 52 of the best anglers in the world weigh in their heaviest daily limits of bass, fans will face the daunting task of deciding what to do next.

Knoxville Hot Spots

Located within a day’s drive of nearly half of the United States’ population and just 45 minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville is where music meets mountains, art meets adventure and no one meets a stranger.

The vibrant and very walkable downtown area — where most Classic venues are centered — offers a variety of fun and unique entertainment offerings, plus shopping and more than 80 dining options in and around Market Square. This popular gathering spot is also home to live music, festivals and more — and it’s just minutes from Knoxville’s increasingly popular “Urban Wilderness,” a 1,000-acre stretch offering more than 50 miles of walking, hiking and biking trails, connecting parks, trails, Civil War sites and recreational amenities.

In addition to barbecue (of course), Knoxville boasts a culinary scene that is receiving national attention. And it pairs well with a growing number of craft breweries and distilleries in Knoxville.

Music lovers know that Knoxville is one of America’s most vibrant cities for live music. From classical to bluegrass, country to rock, live music is on the streets, the square and stages of famous venues like the historic Tennessee Theatre, the official state theatre of Tennessee. Blue Plate Special concerts are also free to the public every Monday-Saturday at noon at the WDVX studios located inside the Downtown Knoxville Visitors Center.

History buffs will want to visit Knoxville to learn more about Civil War sites in the area, and tour earthworks, battle sites and historic homes. Art lovers make sure to visit the Knoxville Museum of Art, and families should allow extra time to see Zoo Knoxville, home of the Tiger Forest.

Fishing fans can plan their visit by going to visitknoxville.com and downloading the free Visit Knoxville App to stay up to date on what’s happening during the 2019 Bassmaster Classic.

Classic Attractions

Visitors and Knoxville residents alike will find plenty to see and do at Classic venues. Here’s a taste:

Takeoffs — Cheer on your favorite Classic competitor at morning takeoffs at Volunteer Landing on the Tennessee River at 7:30 a.m. ET each morning. Coffee and hot chocolate will be available on-site from local Classic partner Pilot Flying J.
Demo rides — While you’re at Volunteer Landing, try out the latest boats and engines from Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton and Yamaha.
Shopping spree — The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at the Knoxville Convention Center and World’s Fair Exhibition Hall spans almost 250,000 square feet of exhibit space filled with the newest and hottest in lures, tackle, gear and boats and motors. Expo hours are noon-7 p.m. Friday, March 15; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, March 16; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, March 17. All events are free to attend.
Dramatic weigh-ins — Doors of Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus will open Friday through Sunday at 3 p.m. for B.A.S.S. Life and Nation members and at 3:15 p.m. for the general public.
Get hooked — Bring the kids to check out the Bassmaster Get Hooked On Fishing presented by Toyota, Shakespeare and RBFF in World’s Fair Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday to Sunday. Activities include casting lessons, a kid’s fishing pond, a long-jump dog competition, and more.
Meet the Elites — Several 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series pros will be stopping by the B.A.S.S. booth in the Expo to meet fans and sign autographs.
Free spooling — Bring your reels (up to three) to the Pure Fishing booth, where you can get them filled with Berkley, SpiderWire or Stren line. Berkley plans to give away 1.5 million yards of line during the three days of the show.
Go LIVE — Watch Classic LIVE hosts Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona and Davy Hite as they provide analysis and live updates of fishing action from the LIVE set in the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo. Classic LIVE is streamed on Bassmaster.com and on the ESPN app.
Student anglers — See the rising stars competing in the Bassmaster High School Classic on Saturday, March 16, and in the annual College Classic Sunday, March 17, with weigh-ins on stage in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Help conservation — Head over to the TVA booth and find out what you can do to help control the Asian Carp population. Also check out the fish tank containing the species of fish you can find in TVA fisheries.
Support the troops — Come out to the weigh-in on Friday and help us honor our country’s military service members. The first 300 to show their designated military ID at the B.A.S.S. booth will receive an official Bassmaster hat. Many other exhibitors will also be offering discounts and promotions for service members.
Be a B.A.S.S. winner — Enter the Fish with Chris and Trait Zaldain Sweepstakes at the B.A.S.S. booth and other points around the Expo.
Thank a first responder — Come to the weigh-in Saturday to show your support and salute our first responders and law enforcement officers. The first 300 to show their official ID/badge at the B.A.S.S. booth will receive an official Bassmaster hat.
Get the T-shirt — The official Bassmaster Classic T-shirt is the ultimate Classic souvenir. Get one, and check out other logo products at the B.A.S.S. merchandise booth.
Watch the clock — Be present in the Nitro/Bass Pro Shops booth for their hourly giveaway items. You can also register for special promotions.
Toyota attractions — At the Toyota booth, kids can meet the Paw Patrol on Saturday and Sunday, racing fans can check out the NASCAR Racing Challenge, everyone can meet and thank Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer on Friday, and Toyota owners can receive a prize by showing the key to their Toyota vehicle.
Watch the winner — Witness history in the making as the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic champion is crowned at the conclusion of Sunday’s weigh-in.

2019 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2019 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2019 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia

2019 Bassmaster Classic Local Host: Visit Knoxville Sports Commission

2019 Bassmaster Classic Local Partners: Calhoun’s, Pilot Flying J, TVA

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. With more than 510,000 members internationally, B.A.S.S. is not only home to the nation’s premier fishing tournament trails, but it also boasts the most expansive and comprehensive media network in the fishing industry. Its media include The Bassmasters on the ESPN networks, more than 130 hours of tournament programming on the Pursuit Channel, 250 hours of on-the-water streaming coverage on Bassmaster LIVE and 1 million monthly visitors to the flagship website on bass fishing – Bassmaster.com. B.A.S.S. also provides more than 4.4 million readers with the best in bass fishing coverage through Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times, and its radio and social media programs and events reach hundreds of thousands each month.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, culminating in the ultimate event on the biggest stage for competitive anglers, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The trail also includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, BassPro.com Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series, and the Bassmaster Team Championship.

Justin Lucas Wins BASS Angler of the Year

Justin Lucas: The Path to Angler of the Year
from The Fishing Wire

Justin Lucas wins BASS Angler of the Year


This time, just one year ago, Justin Lucas watched the Angler of the Year championship tournament come and go from the sidelines. 2017 would mark his worst year on the Bassmaster Elite Series and leave him without a bid to the following Bassmaster Classic. With only a short winter to reflect and prepare for the 2018 season, Lucas went to work.

“I had a tough year last year. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it was because things got out of whack in my fishing,” said Lucas, referring to his season in which he finished tied for 64th place. “I put too much emphasis on practicing to win instead of practicing to do what I do best. I’d fish a technique that I wasn’t good at just because I thought that was the way to win.”

Frustration and forcefulness has proven to be the downfall of many anglers’ seasons. For Lucas, there’s no question in defining what set him free on his route to winning AOY.

“The birth of my son, Cooper Jack, had a huge impact on me. It’s unbelievable what something like that can do to your thinking. I realized that regardless of how I fished or where I finished in a tournament I had a responsibility to help take care of him and to set an example for him, even at a young age.

“Recognizing that there were other things more important in life than the tournament I’m fishing in allowed me to relax and just do my thing. In the end, that was what I needed to get things back on track.”

From the first cast of this season, it was noticeable the tides had turned. The 50th year of Bassmaster and the 2018 Angler of The Year would belong to Lucas.

With most of his focus on becoming an elite father, Lucas settled back into the zone on the water. Lucas relied heavily on a set of techniques he perfected through a childhood on the California Delta and nine years on professional tours. Whether flipping, finessing, or showing off topwater dominance, Lucas tallied five straight top 12 finishes doing what he does best.

“I had something to prove to myself this year. Nobody else. I didn’t want to be that guy who had three awesome years and couldn’t come back.”

There is no path leading to an AOY title. No formal coaching or game script that guides young anglers. Lucas was no exception to the uphill climb. He owed his introduction to the sport to his grandfather Jack, but the journey thereafter, to an internal fire. Passion and intensity fueled a progression from local tournaments through the ranks, into the forefront of the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) tour and, ultimately, to hoisting a Bassmaster AOY trophy.

I feel like I’m the most competitive person I know. Others might see me as this 5-foot, 9-inch guy. But I’m the most intense person I know. I hate to suck.

– Justin Lucas, 2018 Angler Of The Year

Amongst recent dramatic shifts in the professional bass fishing landscape, this victory serves as a testament to the next generation of anglers. Young and hungry, Lucas exemplifies that the baseline of a champion is a humble appreciation for sport and pursuit. But throughout each elite performance and the persistent competitive drive, the bond that tied skill and success was Cooper Jack Lucas.

“He’s not going to learn to be the man his mother and I want him to be if all I show him is that winning a tournament is what matters in life. A real man is honest and has integrity. He lives a life that makes everyone around him proud. I’d like to be the man who teaches Cooper Jack to be like that.”

Looking ahead to the 2019 season, Lucas said, “There’s no way to know what next year will bring. I hope it’s good on the fishing side of things but more importantly I’m going to do my best to make things good everywhere else.”

Congratulations Justin Lucas, Angler of the Year.

2019 Bassmaster Classic On The Tennessee River in Knoxville

April 11, 2018

Knoxville To Host 2019 Bassmaster Classic On The Tennessee River

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For the first time in its 49-year history, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, it was announced today by B.A.S.S. and the host organization, Visit Knoxville.

The prestigious championship bass tournament — widely known as the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” — will be held March 15-17 in downtown Knoxville and on The University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus.

“Knoxville meets and exceeds all the requirements we have for the Bassmaster Classic — great fishing on the Tennessee River, first-class facilities to accommodate crowds of fishing fans, a vibrant city with plenty to see and do, and a corps of state and local tourism professionals who will ensure its success,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

“Bass fishing is hugely popular in this part of the country,” he added. “In fact, 10 of our 109 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are from the Volunteer State, and most live in east Tennessee. This is going to be a very exciting Classic.”

“Hosting the 2019 Bassmaster Classic is an incredible privilege for the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission. This has been a total team effort over the past two years to land this highly respected event. We look forward to welcoming the anglers and their families, along with all of the loyal Bassmaster fans from around the country to our great city,” said Visit Knoxville Sports Commission Senior Director Chad Culver.

“Knoxville is honored to welcome the Bassmaster Classic to Knoxville in 2019. We hosted the Bassmaster Elite in 2017 [held on nearby Cherokee Lake], which was a great success. We anticipate the 2019 Classic to really showcase the partnership between B.A.S.S., our own Visit Knoxville Sports Commission, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and both Knox County and the City of Knoxville. The Tennessee River is the perfect setting for this competition, and anglers and spectators alike will enjoy the beauty that surrounds our city,” said Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas.

The Bassmaster Classic pits 50 of the world’s best bass anglers against one another for shares of the $1 million purse, including $300,000 for the winner. Jordan Lee of Grant, Ala., a 26-year-old former college fishing champion, is the current defending Classic Champion after becoming the youngest ever — and one of only three in history — to win back-to-back titles.

Lee is guaranteed the right to defend his title. Other anglers will spend the rest of this season trying to qualify from several B.A.S.S. circuits, including the prestigious Bassmaster Elite Series.

Tournament waters include Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes, twin reservoirs connected by a canal and comprising about 30,000 acres. Competitors can fish either lake and anywhere along the Tennessee River upstream from Fort Loudoun Dam to the Interstate 40 bridge on the Holston River and the Highway 168 bridge on the French Broad River.

B.A.S.S. Nation Championship tournaments for top-ranked amateur club fishermen were held on the Tennessee River at Knoxville in 1998 and 2000, but B.A.S.S. has never held a professional bass tournament on that section of the Tennessee River.

“Anglers can expect to catch good numbers of bass in Fort Loudoun and have the potential of catching some above-average smallmouth,” said Bart Carter, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Region 4 fisheries manager. “Largemouth will be the go-to fish for both reservoirs.”

Since 2015, TWRA has been stocking those waters with Florida-strain largemouth, which have the potential to grow much larger than the native “northern” largemouth, but the agency pointed out that it’s probably too early for those bass to reach trophy size.

Still, 7-plus-pound bass are not uncommon in early spring, and a one-day tournament held on Fort Loudoun a year ago was won with a 27 1/2-pound limit of five bass, which is considered a game-changing catch in any fishery.

The Classic is a catch-and-release event, with bass being returned to the fishery under the supervision of the TWRA. The 2018 Classic saw a 99.7 percent survival rate among the bass weighed in.

Daily takeoffs will be from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville each competition day, and weigh-ins will take place in the Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus — a 20,000-seat facility that is fifth largest in the country.

The fan-favorite Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held Friday through Sunday, March 15-17, in the Knoxville Convention Center and the adjacent World’s Fair Exhibition Hall, which is being newly renovated this spring.

For the past decade, combined attendance at Classic venues has averaged more than 100,000 per year, and the event typically generates about $25 million in economic impact.

All activities and venues are free and open to the public. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.

I’m Going To the Bassmasters Classic This Week!

I’m going to the Bassmasters Classic this week on Hartwell – as a press observer. It is most every bass tournament fisherman’s dream to go compete in the Classic, and I missed qualifying for it through the club federations in 1983 by two pounds in a three-day tournament. Now I get to go watch the pros fish.

Is the Classic a big deal? At the last Classic I attended I was on the press bus and made the comment “the Superbowl is the Bassmasters Classic of football,” a play on the usual comment. I guess I was overheard by a writer from Sports Illustrated and that quote appeared under my name in the next issue.

The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society invites 52 off the top fishermen in the US to the Classic, where they compete for a first-place prize of $100,000 and the dead last of the 52 gets $10,000. It is estimated the winner can parlay his win into over $1,000,000 in sponsorships and endorsements the next year.

During the Classic there will be a huge outdoor show at the Greenville, South Carolina 250,000-square-foot TD Convention Center. Thousands of fans will visit booths set up by hundreds of fishing related companies. Some will give out free samples and one company offers to fill up to three of your fishing reels with line if you bring them with you.

Weigh-ins will be held in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There will be over 10,000 fans watching the weigh-ins each night. Competitors are trailered in from the ramp at Lake Hartwell with their catch in the live well and are pulled directly to the stage, where they will get out of the boat and step onto the stage to the scales.

I will be in Greenville Tuesday through Friday, coming home before weigh-ins start to fish club tournaments on Oconee that weekend. On Wednesday, the last practice day, I am scheduled to ride with Steve Kennedy, one of the competitors, watch him and get information for future articles.

Van Kennedy, Steve’s dad, lives in Fort Valley and is a member of the 26 Bassmasters club, one of the best in the state. Van has made the state team more than 20 times and has qualified for the Classic through the federation. He is arguably the best club fisherman in the state and usually leads his team to a top finish in the state tournament.

For some reason Van will not do an article with me, saying he can’t give away his secretes, except to other fellow club members I guess. He introduced me to Steve a few years go when he came to watch our Top Six weigh-in at West Point and cheer on his dad.

Van taught him well. Steve is one of the top pros in the nation right now, but he won’t do an article with me, either! But I will get to spend the day in the boat on Hartwell with him.

On Thursday, Media Day, I will have lunch with the pros then get to interview ten of them. I will attend the Outdoor Show Friday afternoon before heading home. There will be well over 100,000 attendees of the show during its three days.

Friday afternoon there is a fan appreciation day where everyone can go and meet the pros and get autographs. It would be well worth a trip to Greenville for all the festivities!

Top Reasons To Visit the Bassmasters Classic

Top 15 Reasons To Attend The Bassmaster Classic

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Two weeks from now, thousands of fishing fans will be converging in Greenville and Anderson, S.C., to take part in the biggest event in sportfishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.

What makes the Classic more than just a bass fishing tournament?

As fans from across the country have discovered, there’s so much to do on and off the water.

Of course, the main event is the crowning of the 2018 world champion of bass fishing — the angler among the 52-man field who catches the heaviest limits of bass from Lake Hartwell during the three competition days, March 16-18.

The attraction for many, though, is the Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at the TD Convention Center (1 Exposition Drive in Greenville) — the largest of its kind. Many manufacturers will be introducing new products during the expo.

Expo hours are Friday, March 16, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, March 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. All events are free to attend. To help schedule their day, visitors can use the online floor plan to find out which booths you want to visit and what new product introductions you don’t want to miss — available at Bassmaster.com/expoattend.

Here are more reasons you’ll not want to miss this year’s Super Bowl of Bass Fishing:

Killer Photo Ops. When you walk around the expo, you never know who or what you’ll see. Drop by the GEICO booth to take a selfie with the Gecko and the Miss GEICO racing boat. Swing over to the Carhartt booth for a shot with Jordan Lee’s Classic trophy from last year. Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro will be in the Skeeter booth on Friday, and the first 100 fans will get a signed baseball. Yamaha will give you the chance to be on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine! And fishing legends Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston and Hank Parker will be booth jumping every day to shake hands with as many fans as possible!

Play To Win. There will be scads of opportunities to play fun games and win free fishing stuff. For example, the Toyota booth will feature the Highlander Cargo Challenge, where the fastest bass fans will win prizes. Plus, a spin of the Tundra prize wheel will make everyone a winner. If you can shoot a basketball, dribble over to the Humminbird/Minn Kota booth to play a quick game of “Triple Threat” to win prizes. Be sure to try your hand at Skeet Reese’s and Edwin Evers’ “Office Fishing Game” at the General Tire booth to reel in fun prizes. Oh, and enjoy the Carhartt experience in their booth … everybody wins something!

Learn From The Best.

Go There And Get The T-Shirt To Prove It! Memorializing your trip to the 2018 Classic is easy if you swing by the B.A.S.S. apparel booth, with exclusive Classic shirts and hats available. Some are even in green to cover you for St. Patrick’s Day. And HUK Performance Fishing clothing will be selling their newest offerings, including a new women’s clothing line.

Help Cheer On Your Favorite Competitor At Morning Takeoffs. Come to the world class Green Pond Landing and Event Center at Lake Hartwell (470 Green Pond Road) in Anderson at 7:30 a.m. ET each competition and help send off some of the world’s best bass anglers.

Get Into The Drama Of Daily Weigh-Ins. The doors of Bon Secours Wellness Arena (650 N. Academy Street) in Greenville will open each day at 3 p.m. for B.A.S.S. Life and Nation members and at 3:15 p.m. for the general public, Friday-Sunday. Find a seat, then sit back, relax and enjoy the slate of pre-weigh-in entertainment.

Get Hooked On Fishing.
Bring your kids to check out the Bassmaster Get Hooked On Fishing presented by Toyota and Shakespeare area from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday to Sunday. Activities include casting lessons, a kid’s fishing pond, a long-jump dog competition, lure decorating, live animals and more. It’s free!

Experience LIVE Coverage. Watch the tournament leaders catch bass in real time on the exclusive Classic LIVE program on Bassmaster.com and on WatchESPN. Watch hosts Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona and Davy Hite as they provide insightful commentary and analysis of the competition as well. The program will also include LIVE cut-ins with Dave Mercer, Classic and Elite Series emcee, along with guest anglers from the GEICO Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Get To Know A Pro. Come by the TD Convention Center on Thursday, March 15, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for Fan Appreciation Day. Anglers will be available for meet-and-greet and photo sessions.

Ride Like The Wind.
Want to know what it feels like to ride like the wind? Come to the takeoff site at Green Pond Landing to test out the latest boats and engines from Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton and Yamaha.

Fish With A Pro. The Abu Garcia booth will have a signup to win daily prizes and the winners from there will go on stage during Sunday’s weigh-in for a grand prize fishing trip with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Justin Lucas.

Crazy Sweeps. There are amazing sweepstakes opportunities at the expo this year. Toyota has the RAV4 Adventure Sweepstakes where bass fans can enter to win a prize package including an Ascend Kayak, Bass Pro Gift Card, and gear from Quantum and Carhartt. Humminbird and Minn Kota are offering a “Triple Threat Giveaway,” where one winner will receive a prize package consisting of a Humminbird SOLIX, Minn Kota Ultrex and Minn Kota Talon. The winner can then outfit their boat with the same technology that the pros use to find fish, get to fish, and stay on fish — a triple threat. Yamaha will be offering four grand prizes from their booth, including an all-expense-paid trip to fish with one of the following anglers: Jeff Kriet in his 47-foot Freeman offshore boat; a Texas lunker hunt with Justin Lucas; Guntersville with Jordan Lee; and Brandon Palaniuk on the St. Lawrence River. General Tire is giving you a chance to swap day jobs with Edwin Evers and Skeet Reese with their Reel Job Sweepstakes. Winners will spend a day “working” with the Elite Series pros.

Bring Your Reel For Free Fill-Ups. With 12 line-spooling stations in its booth, Berkley plans to spool approximately 1.5 million yards of line during the three days of the show. Any attendee can bring up to three reels to be spooled with the premium line of their choice across the Berkley, SpiderWire and Stren brands.

The Latest And Greatest.
Visit the Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchors booth to see their new and current products that the pros are using on the Bassmaster Elite Series. They will also be selling their latest apparel, hats and accessories.

See The Rising Stars. See the fifth annual Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Classic Saturday, March 17, at nearby Lake Keowee, with the weigh-in at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. And don’t miss the ninth annual College Classic Sunday, March 18, at the same locations.

Participate In History.
B.A.S.S. was founded in 1968, forever changing the sport of bass fishing. Help celebrate the 50th birthday of B.A.S.S. throughout Classic Week.

2018 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2018 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2018 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Huk

2018 Bassmaster Classic Local Sponsor: Mountain Dew

Boat Order for Start of Lake Hartwell Classic March 16-18

B.A.S.S. Announces Boat Order for Start of Lake Hartwell Classic March 16-18
from The Fishing Wire

Earlier this week, B.A.S.S. officials held a random drawing at its headquarters to determine the boat order for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell.

The first two spots in the 52-boat field were predetermined with 2017 Elite Series Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk occupying the number one position followed by 2017 Classic champion Jordan Lee.

Here’s how the boat order will look at Hartwell for the Classic, set for March 16-18, according to a report published on Bassmaster.com.

After day 1, the boats will leave the dock in reverse order listed here.

Flight 1
1. Brandon Palaniuk
2. Jordan Lee
3. Jason Williamson
4. Kevin VanDam
5. Luke Gritter
6. Mark Davis
7. Brent Ehrler
8. Cliff Pace
9. Bradley Roy
10. Josh Bertrand
11. Jacob Wheeler
12. Matt Lee
13. Caleb Sumrall
14. Bobby Lane
15. Keith Combs
16. Skeet Reese
17. Ott DeFoe
18. David Walker
19. Brandon Lester
20. Mark Daniels
21. Stanley Sypeck
22. Jacob Foutz
23. Mike Iaconelli
24. Edwin Evers
25. Rick Morris
26. Russ Lane

Flight 2
27. Marty Giddens
28. James Elam
29. Steve Kennedy
30. Mike McClelland
31. Hank Cherry
32. Brandon Coulter
33. Jesse Wiggins
34. Seth Feider
35. John Cox
36. Clifford Pirch
37. Carl Svebek
38. Todd Faircloth
39. Randy Howell
40. Jason Christie
41. Micah Frazier
42. Jacob Powroznik
43. John Crews
44. Ryan Butler
45. Dustin Connell
46. Gerald Swindle
47. Jamie Hartman
48. Alton Jones
49. Casey Ashley
50. Aaron Martens
51. Greg Hackney
52. Luke Clausen

2017 Bass Masters Classic Live Coverage

March 17, 2017

Fishing Fans Will Experience Live Coverage Of 47th Annual Bassmaster Classic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Fifty-two of the world’s best bass anglers will head to Houston next week to compete for more than $1 million in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, and fans will be able to follow the action as it happens.

Classic LIVE will be broadcasting in real time from the B.A.S.S. booth at the Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“What an incredible venue we have this year being set up in the heart of Houston, Texas, and watching the action unfold live on a lake that some anglers are saying might produce multiple 10-pound-plus bass,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content for JM Associates and producer of The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2.

Cameras will be streaming live coverage of the Classic leaders on Lake Conroe back to the expo production facility, where hosts will break down the action for fans tuning in through Bassmaster.com and WatchESPN. Hosts Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona, and Davy Hite along with Dave Mercer and on-the-water reporter Robbie Floyd, will provide analysis and live updates.

This year, special guest Brian Robison of the Minnesota Vikings will also be onsite for the Classic LIVE show to provide some local insight. Robison played for the University of Texas and calls Lake Conroe his home lake.

Also, special guest RJ Mitte, who plays Walter White Jr. on the series “Breaking Bad,” will be joining the set at the expo.

The 2016 version of “Classic LIVE” reached nearly 12 million minutes viewed during the three-day event.

Each day of competition will have six hours of coverage, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Watch the tournament leaders catch bass in real time on the exclusive Classic LIVE program on Bassmaster.com and simulcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

Facebook Live broadcasts will be added to the coverage this year, on the B.A.S.S. Facebook page, including coverage of takeoff on Day 1, the Toyota Mid-Day Report all three days around noon, and the press conference with the Top 6 anglers after each competition day.

Also on Bassmaster.com, fans can keep up with every fish caught through BASSTrakk, a real-time leaderboard that shows each angler’s catch according to estimates of marshals assigned to each competitor’s boat. In addition, on-the-water reporters provide a running commentary on the action in the Live Blog.

“Through those features, along with videos and photo galleries, we’ll have the lake covered from top to bottom,” said Jim Sexton, B.A.S.S. VP/Digital. “And we’ll cover every inch of the Minute Maid Park weigh-ins and the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo, as well.”

2017 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2017 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods

2017 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2017 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Power-Pole, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Berkley, Shell Rotella, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats

2017 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods

2017 Bassmaster Classic Local Sponsors: Shipley Donuts, Academy Sports + Outdoors

About the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods
The 47th world championship of bass fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will host 52 of the world’s best bass anglers competing for more than $1 million, March 24-26 in Houston, Texas. Competition and takeoff will begin each day at Lake Conroe Park (14968 TX-105, Montgomery, Texas) at 7:20 a.m. CT. Weigh-ins will be held daily March 24-26 at 3:15 p.m. in one of Major League Baseball’s Top 20 largest stadiums, the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park (501 Crawford Street, Houston, Texas).

In conjunction, the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be open daily only a block from Minute Maid Park at George R. Brown Convention Center, (1001 Avenida de las Americas, Houston, Texas) the largest in Classic history. Expo hours are Friday, March 24, noon – 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 26, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

2016 Bassmasters Classic Going To Houston

April 14, 2016

Houston Lands 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic – the 2016 Bassmasters Classic Going To Houston

HOUSTON — The world championship of bass fishing — the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro — will be held in Houston for the first time in the event’s 47-year history, B.A.S.S. and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, the event hosts, revealed today.

The announcement was made during a press conference in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros and where 52 of the world’s best bass anglers will weigh their fish during the March 24-26, 2017, event.

“We are thrilled to bring the biggest event in bass fishing to the biggest city in the biggest state,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “Of the 500,000 members of B.A.S.S. worldwide, nearly 45,000 — more than any other state — call Texas home. We’re glad to be able to hold the Classic near them.”

“We are truly excited to further our relationship with the sport of bass fishing and the Bassmaster Classic,” said Ted Ward, GEICO vice president of marketing. “This event continues to serve as a great platform to interact with their loyal fans and build brand awareness for GEICO’s expanding product lines.”

The fishing competition will take place on Lake Conroe, a 21,000-acre impoundment of the San Jacinto River in Montgomery and Walker counties noted for producing big largemouth bass.

Also during Bassmaster Classic Week in Houston, the nation’s leading fishing tackle and boat manufacturers will take part in the annual Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo, to be held March 24-26 in the George R. Brown Convention Center. In recent years, tackle and lure companies have been using the Classic Expo as the venue to introduce their newest products to bass fishing fans. The 2017 Expo will cover more than 300,000 square feet, the largest in Bassmaster Classic history.

“This is a huge win for the region and is a perfect example of how our events staff constantly works in collaboration with a variety of partners, as well as creatively, to bring these type of sporting events to town,” said Janis Burke, Chief Executive Officer of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. “Who would have guessed that a fishing tournament weigh-in could be done that many miles away from the fishing lake and inside a MLB Stadium? But, it makes perfect sense and has been a wonderful display of teamwork by many entities. We expect this to be the largest and best event ever held in the Bassmaster Classic’s history.”

The 2017 event will mark only the second time for the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” to be held in Texas. Television fishing show host Hank Parker won the 1979 Classic on Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma border. Conroe has never hosted a Bassmaster Elite Series event; however, many of the stars of the Elite Series are familiar with the lake. It was the site of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic from 2009-2013.

In addition, superstar pro Rick Clunn, a four-time Classic Champion, worked as a bass guide on Conroe during the early years of his 42-year career in professional fishing. He is off to a strong start toward qualifying for what would be his 33rd Classic — he won the season opener of the Elite Series in March on Florida’s St. Johns River. Clunn will be 70 years old when the 2017 Classic gets under way.

“Lake Conroe is a bass-fishing gem, and we’re proud to show it off to the bass world,” said Harold Hutcheson, executive director of the Conroe Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our lake ranks seventh in the state in the number of Toyota ShareLunker entries (open to bass weighing 13 or more pounds), and it’s a popular place for recreational anglers and professionals alike. We look forward to hosting some of the world’s best anglers next year.”

The Classic champion will earn $300,000, part of the more than $1 million in prize money to be paid out to the anglers.

Akin expects the event next year to draw some of the largest crowds in tournament history. More than 107,000 people attended one or more venues during this year’s Classic in Tulsa, Okla., and on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. The event has averaged more than 102,000 in attendance over the past five years.

Officials at host cities during that time have reported an economic impact from the event ranging from $22 million to nearly $24 million.

More than 250 media representatives from throughout the United States and several foreign countries are credentialed to cover the event each year, and The Weather Channel regularly broadcasts live from the takeoff each morning. Several thousand fishing fans are expected to brave chilly morning temperatures to watch the takeoff next year at Lake Conroe.

Fans who don’t make it to the lake will be tuning in to live coverage of the competition through “Bassmaster Classic Live,” a cutting-edge program that streams live, on-the-water fishing action through the B.A.S.S. website, Bassmaster.com. More than 400,000 video plays of Classic Live were recorded this year, resulting in nearly 12 million minutes viewed.

The 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic is being hosted locally by the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, and the fishing action on Lake Conroe is presented by the Conroe Convention and Visitors Bureau.

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.