Category Archives: Bassmasters Classic

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

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

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 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

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 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 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, 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 (, 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, 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 (, 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.

Bassmasters Classic Final Day Is Sunday

Bassmasters Classic Kickoff

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Weigh-in arena for Bassmasters C;lassic

Weigh-in arena for Bassmasters C;lassic

As you read this, 55 high performance bass boats will be taking off on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake of the Cherokees northeast of Tulsa in what is widely recognized as the “Super Bowl” of bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. One of the anglers will, over the three day event, bring home a catch that will be life-changing, putting $300,000 in cash into his bank account. While a few of the pro’s competing this year have already made this leap, it would have a huge impact for most, who spend huge amounts of money running the highways all over the U.S. in pursuit of their dream of becoming economically successful doing something that they love. It’s a tough row to hoe.

The stage seems to be set perfectly for the event. Spring has arrived early this year in Oklahoma, with many of the trees already in full bloom and some near balmy days already warming the shallows. It’s likely to be a tournament where anglers chase spawning fish, and this usually results in heavy catches. The weather will surely be easier on the anglers than last time the championship was here, in 2013, when subfreezing temperatures and howling winds made it as much an endurance test as a trial of angling skills.

As I write this on Thursday evening in Tulsa, the town seems more than ready for the event. There are signs welcoming the Classic everywhere, there are thousands of fans in town, there are decorated tow trucks everywhere, and every manufacturer in the bass fishing industry is here, waiting eagerly for the Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo, which takes place as part of the event. Any company that wants to introduce a new product to this highly-specialized industry can’t pass up this opportunity, which will see tens of thousands of visitors and at the daily weigh-ins at BOK Center downtown.

Odds are probably good that one of the three Oklahoma anglers in the event will bring home the big win–local anglers have won the last two years at Guntersville and Hartwell. However, the last time the Classic was fished here Mississippi angler Cliff Pace took home the gold–perhaps in part because the miserable conditions made normal patterns difficult to sort out for locals.

In any case, The Fishing Wire is here, and we’ll be reporting what happened in our Monday edition, as well as reviewing all the excitement of the new product introductions at the show. It’s a fun time to be in the business, especially for those of us who do not have a sleepless weekend ahead of us worrying about winning $300K.

Bassmasters Classic

A Few Thoughts on the Bassmasters Classic

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

The “Alabama Mafia” again looks to make its presence felt in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic, to be fishing March 4-6 at Grand Lake northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens, Angler of the Year in 2015, is likely to be among the favorites to win the 2016 Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake, Oklahoma, March 4-6. (Photo Credit B.A.S.S.)

With nine Classic contenders, more than any other state, Alabama is living up to its name as the tournament bass fishing capitol of the nation–perhaps not surprisingly since B.A.S.S. was born here in Montgomery, and has returned its headquarters to Birmingham after a brief flirtation with Florida.

Aaron Martens, a Californian now living near Leeds, Ala., is likely to rank near the top of the 54-man Classic field; he’s the reigning Angler of the Year (AOY), and has consistently proven himself one of the best in the world over the last several years on the Bassmaster Elite Series Tour.

Also at the top of his game is Justin Lucas, now a Guntersville resident, who finished 2nd in this year’s AOY race. Another young gun who may do well is Auburn grad Jordan Lee of Vinemont, who finished 9th in the AOY in just his third season of Elite competition.

Other Alabama anglers who made the Classic cut are Matt Herren of Ashville, Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Chris Lane of Guntersville, Randy Howell of Springville, Russ Lane of Prattville, and tackle-maker Boyd Duckett, also now of Guntersville.

Edwin Evers

Edwin Evers

Edwin Evers lives virtually on the shores of Grand Lake, and will know it better than any other angler in the field—a likely factor in success if the bite is tough. (Photo Credit B.A.S.S.)

One name conspicuously absent, to the misfortune of the weigh-in crowds, is funny-man Gerald Swindle of Warrior. Win or lose, Swindle is always a crowd favorite who can draw a laugh, but he did not make the Classic cut this year.

Two Oklahoma anglers loom large in the field this year because Grand Lake is virtually their home water: Edwin Evers lives at Talala, close enough to hit the lake with a long cast, and Jason Christie lives at Park Hill, a short drive south. The last couple of years, home-lake familiarity has been a key factor, with S.C. native Casey Ashley winning at Hartwell in 2015 and Randy Howell winning at Guntersville in 2014. Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., was the winning angler at Grand Lake in 2013, but he’s not in the Classic field this year. The event is being held a week later than it was last time at Grand, and anglers are hopeful they’ll get a break compared to the freezing temperatures and high winds they battled on the last visit.

The Tulsa Classic in 2013 recorded the second highest attendance in history, with more than 106,850 fans visiting one or more of the Classic venues. Total purse will be more than $1 million, with the winner receiving $300,000. The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo provides an added attraction at the event in downtown Tulsa, with hundreds of boat, motor and tackle manufacturers displaying their new-for-2016 gear to the public for the first time.

For details on the event, visit

Randy Howell Speaking At Sportsman Event

Randy Howell won the Bass Masters Classic in 2014 on Lake Guntersville. This is the top tournament of the bass fishing world, and I compare it to football by saying the Superbowl is the Bassmasters Classic of football.

Winners of the Classic are in great demand for speaking engagements and doing other publicity for their sponsors. This last for years but the year after they win the Classic is the busiest by far.

Last year I contacted Randy about doing a magazine article. When I talked with him at the Classic media day a few days before he won, he said he would like to do one of my Map of the Month articles in Alabama Outdoor News and gave me his favorite lakes in Alabama near where he lives.

When I contacted him in June he said he was sorry but every day but three for the rest of 2014 were scheduled for him to do something. Can you imagine having commitments every day for six months except for three? That is the price a successful fisherman pays, and they are all willing to pay it.

Randy is a strong Christian, a great guy and tirelessly supports King’s Home, an Alabama charity. From their web site: “King’s Home has been home to hundreds of youth, women, and children seeking refuge, hope, and help from abuse, neglect, abandonment, homelessness, and other difficult and impoverished conditions and circumstances. Our Purpose: To serve Christ by serving youth, women, and mothers with children who are at-risk.”

Randy will be the speaker at the Devotie Baptist Church’s Annual Sportsman Event at 7:30 this Thursday, October 29. The public is invited to attend to hear Randy’s presentation. Devotie Baptist Church is on Experiment Street and they are expecting a very good turnout. It should be a great experience.

I hope to do an article with Randy when his schedule allows. I am setting up the 2016 schedule for those articles now and will contact him when it is final. Don’t miss a chance this week to hear
Randy Howwell speaking at Sportsman Event in Griffin