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Entries in Bassmaster Classic (21)


What to See and Do at Bassmaster Classic

B.A.S.S. photo of Classic in Tulsa, Okla.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — There are far more than 44 things to do and see at the Feb. 21-23 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.

But, as a salute to this Classic being the 44th annual world championship of bass fishing, this list stops at No. 44. Fishing fans and their families will discover many more over the three days of the event.

Competition will take place on Lake Guntersville. All other activities will be in Birmingham at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. There’s no charge to attend any Bassmaster Classic event.

1. Cheer on your favorites at the morning takeoffs. Fifty-five of the world’s best anglers in 55 of the most colorful and best-equipped bass boats in the sport will line up and power out onto Lake Guntersville at 7 a.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, from City Harbor in Guntersville, Ala. On Sunday, Feb. 23, only the 25 finalists who made the Saturday cut will compete. Sunday takeoff is also at 7 a.m. Shuttles from parking areas will be provided.

2. Ride like the wind. What’s it feel like to ride in a state-of-the-art bass boat powered by an engine larger than yourself? Courtesy of Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton and Yamaha, free demo rides from the launch site will be offered Friday-Sunday. Ages 16 and up can sign up at the tents.

3. Do some star-gazing. The best bet for up-close views of the pros in action on the water is to stay glued to Those lucky enough to live on Lake Guntersville (or who have good friends who live there) can watch from shore and have fun glassing the boats as they whiz by. For fans planning to take a boat out on the water, Bassmaster Classic officials request that all spectators keep their distance, and don’t try to talk to the anglers or fish their water after they leave (they’ll need the option to return to that spot).

4. Get into the drama of the daily weigh-ins. The doors at the BJCC Arena will open each day at 3 p.m., Friday-Sunday. Find a seat, then sit back, relax and enjoy the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm-up, a slate of pre-weigh-in entertainment.

5. Score the best seat in the house. Text to win a seat on the Evan Williams Bourbon couch located at the front of the Livewell, the VIP seating in front of the stage. The daily texting contest, Evan Williams Seriously Good Seats Contest, will be announced in the arena at 3:30 p.m. each day, and fans 21 years and up will have 15 minutes to text “Evan Williams” to 271-26. The winner gets space on couch for themselves and up to three others.

6. Say, “How ’bout them dogs.” The canine athletes of the Super Retriever Series will show their stuff as part of the Warm-up show.

7. Make some noise. Mercury will distribute thundersticks to fans as they enter the arena. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Byron Velvick will canvas the crowd to select the “craziest” fan to receive a cool prize.

8. Drink the Dew. Diet Mountain Dew will distribute free cans of soft drinks for the first 10 minutes after the arena doors open.

9. Show off your catching skills. Mercury T-shirts will be shot into the stands. Be ready to catch them.

10. Win a GoPro camera. Watch the big screen in the arena for texting instructions for a chance to win a GoPro unit, the camera that can catch the action up close under extreme conditions.

11. Picture yourself as a Classic champ. As fans enter the BJCC Arena for the daily weigh-ins, they can have their photo taken with Skeet Reese’s 2009 Bassmaster Classic trophy, courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods.

12. Get ready for some football. As part of the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm Up, a Triton 21 TrX boat will be towed into the arena by a Toyota. In the boat will be Triton pro staff anglers tossing toy footballs into the crowd.

13. Help families of warriors. At the arena, a bucket will be passed through the crowd to collect contributions to the Folds of Honor Foundation. Its mission is to provide educational scholarships to the dependents of soldiers killed or disabled while serving our country.

14. Experience the biggest tackle show in Birmingham. It’s called the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, and it’s open at the BJCC all three days, before the weigh-ins and even after the weigh-ins on Friday and Saturday. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 7 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Keep reading to learn about some of the activities, displays and merchandise available. Like all Classic activities, there’s no admission charge to the expo.

15. Acquire your heart’s desire. The Dick’s Sporting Goods booth at the Expo is one place you can purchase that got-to-have gear and tackle (including 2014 model lures you probably won’t see elsewhere).

16. Meet the GEICO gecko. At the GEICO booth, you can have your photo taken with the famous TV commercial star while entering to win a $500 gas card. Kids can play a GEICO game and win prizes.

17. See what swims with SpongeBob. At the Toyota booth, more than fish will be swimming in a new 800-gallon custom tank designed by Animal Planet’s “Tanked” co-stars Wayde King and Brett Raymer in partnership with Toyota and Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

18. Wonder at how good your kids are at casting. At the Toyota Casting Challenge, kids can test their skills at casting into targets.

19. Stuff it. In the Toyota Highlander Cargo Capacity Challenge, you can try to stuff as many fish into the Toyota Highlander as you can to win prizes.

20. Test your strength. In the Toyota Tundra Torque Pull, see if you have the strength to win prizes.

21. Collect free stuff at Dick’s, win prizes. Get a free Hook Me Up! commemorative lanyard and luggage tag at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Expo booth. There’s a different luggage tag each day, so collect all three. Wearing the “Hook Me Up” lanyard could earn a prize, including Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards. A prize patrol will be on the lookout at the Expo and weigh-ins to tap lanyard-wearers and award prizes on the spot.

22. Win cool stuff at the Bass Pro Shops/Nitro expo booth. Giveaway items include autographed jerseys, fishing tackle and Bass Pro Shops gift cards.

23. Enter a raffle for a trip on the lake. Pick up a wrist band at the Bass Pro Shops/Nitro Expo exhibit and qualify for prizes and register for a raffle to ride in a Nitro Z-9 and follow your favorite pro on Lake Guntersville during a Classic competition day.

24. Start (or add to) an autograph collection. Famous bass pros will be on hand for autograph sessions, courtesy of many of the expo exhibitors. Check schedules at each booth.

25. Make it a banner day. Your entire family can get in on this: At the Mercury expo exhibit, create your own banner to cheer on your favorite Mercury pro staff member fishing in the Classic.

26. Power up with PowerBait. Samples of the newest and hottest PowerBait shapes will be given to the first 250 people at the Berkley booth each day.

27. Make music. Stop in at the Humminbird/Minn Kota Expo booth to register to win a Gibson guitar. The drawing will be Sunday in the booth.

28. See yourself on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine. Courtesy of Yamaha, take home a 5x7 photo of yourself on the cover of Bassmaster. While you’re at the Yamaha booth, have your photo taken with a Yamaha pro. Autographs also are available.

29. Line up your kids to play a new game. B.A.S.S. Conservation partner Recycled Fish will be at the Dick’s Sporting Goods booth with “Bass Labyrinth,” a new game that teaches kids how to release a bass. Families can get a Recycled Fish Stewardship Kit to help them be effective caretakers of their local waters.

30. Learn at seminars. Several expo exhibitors will offer seminars. Check at each booth for schedules. For example, hourly seminars will happen at the 40-foot, 4,000-gallon Dick’s Sporting Goods Bass Tank.

31. Try to win Duckett rods at Triton booth. Enter daily drawings for a chance to win a set of four Duckett Fishing Micro Magic Triton-branded rods. The winner will be notified via email.

32. Pocket up to $1,000 from Livingston. Besides great giveaways like signed apparel and Livingston lures, cash prizes will be awarded every day at the Livingston Expo exhibit. One of the prizes on one of the days will be $1,000. Learn details at the Livingston booth.

33. Enter to win a Toyota Tundra in the new Booyah sweepstakes. Also up for grabs is a trip to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic in Greenville, S.C. Booyah will launch the sweeps at the expo, giving Classic visitors the first chance to enter the season-long contest. At the final Bassmaster Elite Series event of 2014, 11 entries will be drawn. All 11 will be guests of Booyah at the 2015 Classic; each of those 11 will receive a key. The one who has the key that fits will win the Booyah-wrapped Toyota.

34. Spin to win. At the B.A.S.S. expo booth, visitors can win prizes by taking a turn at the Spin ‘N’ Win board.

35. Enter the Reelin’ & Racing Sweepstakes. Also at the B.A.S.S. booth, enter to win a fishing trip with Bassmaster Elite Series pro (and Classic competitor) Aaron Martens — and a VIP experience at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

36. Live, from Birmingham, it’s the Bassmaster Interview Stage. There’s a full slate of interviews, Classic competition analysis, fishing tips and much more on tap at the Bassmaster Interview Stage inside the expo. Hosts include the Bassmaster Magazine editor James Hall and the senior editor Ken Duke.

37. Catch up with AutoZone Winning Ways. If you haven’t yet seen The Bassmasters TV program named AutoZone Winning Ways, here’s your chance. It will be shown at the Bassmaster Interview Stage.

38. Take home the T-shirt. Arguably, the official Bassmaster Classic T-shirt is the ultimate Classic souvenir. But there’s much more at the B.A.S.S. merchandise booth, from hats to shirts in all sizes and colors and for all ages.

39. Tweet Up. Want to meet other devoted Bassmaster Tweeters? Meet Saturday at noon in the B.A.S.S. Life Member Lounge at the expo. Anyone who follows B.A.S.S. on Twitter (@BASS_Nation) is invited.

40. Be social. Use the hashtag #bassmasterclassic on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest or Facebook. Submitted photos could be selected to go up on the big screen in the BJCC arena. Photos also will be displayed on a screen in the B.A.S.S. booth at the expo; photos with the hashtag on Instagram will appear on the B.A.S.S. Facebook page,

41. Follow the competition via The Classic anglers are on the water; you’re inside at the expo, or eating lunch at a Birmingham restaurant. No problem. Go to on your cellphone or tablet and check the BASSTrakk weight reports, watch video fresh off the water, and read all about the competition. Live, streaming video of the weigh-ins also will be available.

42. See future pros. The Carhartt College Series gets in on the Classic action with a friendly competition among collegiate rivals in the annual Bassmaster Classic “Iron Bowl.” Defending 2013 champ Oklahoma University will be up against teams from several colleges, including Auburn and Alabama. The College Series weigh-in will be Sunday as part of the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm-up activities.

43. Support the growing high school teams. During Warm-up on Saturday, 10 high school fishing teams from Alabama and other states will take the Classic stage to weigh their catches. Give them your best applause.

44. Revel in a confetti shower. Get ready for confetti as a new Classic champ is crowned Sunday. Lightweight, colorful (and free), a piece or two of saved confetti is a unique souvenir from a great three days at the 2014 Classic.


Anglers Divided Over Diversion to Restore Mississippi Delta

Vanishing Paradise staffer Ben Weber

The campaign to protect and restore the wetlands and marshes of the Mississippi Delta has been fractured. Sadly, anglers now are pitted against anglers regarding the strategy for coastal Louisiana, with the future of fish and waterfowl, as well as their habitat, in the balance.

“It breaks my heart to see this fragmenting,” says Ben Weber, a Louisiana native and staffer for Vanishing Paradise, a coalition endorsing a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation of the Mississippi Delta. “Opposition is not based on science, and bass fishing is taking a hit.”

“This is the greatest environmental disaster in our country and no one knows about it,” adds Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures. “We have to get bass fishermen involved in the fight.”

In short, manmade alterations in the river’s natural flow during the past 70-plus years, mostly for flood control, have allowed saltwater intrusion. That has killed vegetation and prompted erosion and loss of about 1,900 square miles of wetlands.

As this habitat for bass and waterfowl has been destroyed, a multitude of saltwater species, including redfish, flounder, speckled trout, shrimp, and crab, have enjoyed an expanded range. Not surprisingly, some commercial fishermen, charter captains, and local communities  want to maintain the status quo.

Their Save Louisiana Coalition supports restoration, but opposes freshwater diversion, one of the most effective tools for doing so. That’s because this sediment-carrying water, which will rebuild marshes, also will move saltwater species back toward the Gulf.

As an angler, it’s easy to understand their point of view: They don’t want to surrender any of their fishing grounds, including those created by man’s interference with a natural system.

But they also are short-sighted. Freshwater diversion is vital to the continued health of both the fresh and saltwater fisheries in the Delta. If saltwater continues to encroach, nearly all nursery habitat will be lost and redfish and trout will decline, right along with bass and catfish.

“The problem in Louisiana is we’re addicted to salt because that salt brings tremendous benefits in fisheries,” offers Robert Twilley, a coastal scientist at Louisiana State University.

But every year, he cautions, that artificial fishery moves closer to the river than nature ever intended.

“In 15 years, I’ve seen 80 percent of the marsh near our camp (Leesville) vanish,” says Weber. “There are cemeteries in bayou communities with just one or two headstones left (above water). We fish in the cemeteries for trout.”

Along the Mississippi at Buras, a stark contrast highlights the importance of using freshwater diversions, adds Lambert. On the west side, which receives little to no freshwater, only open water and dead marsh grass remains. On the east side, where freshwater flows, the wetlands are alive and thriving.

In that area, the Louisiana angler notes, “bass fishermen and redfish fishermen go to the same place to catch fish. From Buras down to the mouth of the Mississippi is the best fishing in North America.

“You can’t just pump in sediment,” he says. “You have to have freshwater too (for sustained fisheries).”

He also points out that the Davis Pond Diversion, where Kevin VanDam won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, is no longer a viable fishery because flow has been reduced. “Saltwater has come in and killed the grass,” he says. “There are no bass, no brim, no crappie, no catfish, and no duck habitat. And it’s all because they want to grow oysters there.”

Freshwater diversion is but one of several tactics that will be used to revitalize the Delta. Others will include vegetation planting, dredging and placement of sediment, and protecting shorelines and barrier islands.

But reconnecting the river to the Delta is of paramount importance.

Only by restoring the natural process as much as possible can we achieve a solution that will benefit both freshwater and saltwater species.

 “Sportsmen and women have always had an eye towards long-term conservation,” says Steve Bender, Vanishing Paradise director. “That is what this is all about ---  the long term. To do it any other way is shortsighted and will not ensure that future generations will have the hunting and fishing opportunities we have all come to enjoy.”

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)



Decatur Heritage Team Wins B.A.S.S. High School Invitational

Photo by Shaye Baker/B.A.S.S.

Mitchell Gowen and Brianna Tucker of Decatur Heritage outfished 65 other high school teams Saturday to win the 2013 B.A.S.S. High School Invitational on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., according to

This was the first event of its kind and netted the team a spot in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic, which will be held in conjunction with the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Gowen and Tucker will be joined in the Classic by the rest of the top 8 finishers from the invitational.

“I just want to thank God for giving us the opportunity to fish,” said Tucker, who was responsible for four of the five fish the team weighed in Saturday. “I also want to thank our boat captain.”

Norman Brown, their boat captain, said that things did not start off with a bang, but his team stayed focus and for that he was proud of them, as they eventually checked in with 16 pounds, 15 ounces of largemouth bass.

“Around 9 [a.m.] I think they only had one fish,” he said.

“Once we started catching them, it kind of happened all at once,” Tucker said.

“She caught the first three back-to-back-to-back,” Brown said.

That initial burst was triggered by water generated through Guntersville Dam.

The team fished a few spots upriver from Decatur, and it wasn’t until the current arrived that the team finally found its groove.

“The last two we had to scrape for,” Brown said. “We probably caught 10 fish. The biggest one they weighed in was around 4 and 1/2 [pounds] and the smallest was about 2 and 3/4 [pounds].”

Finding a consistent, quality bite helped Decatur Heritage overcome some of the bigger fish weighed in Saturday, including the 5-3 Carhartt Big Bass caught by Jake Turnbloom and JT Russell of Briarwood Christian.

The majority of the fish that Tucker and Gowen brought to the scales came on a Norman DD22 crankbait. Gowen also caught one fish dragging a big worm.

In addition to Tucker’s and Gowen’s 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic berth, the duo and Brown received exclusive backstage privileges for the entire 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

Joining Tucker and Gowen in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic are runners-up Jarrett Martin and Billy Powers of Gallia Academy High School, third-place finishers Tanner Jones and Clay Teague of Tuscaloosa County High School, fourth-place finishers Beau Ashcraft and Shawn Zellers of Wabash Valley Bassmasters, fifth-place finishers John Garrett and Peyton Lyons of Obion County Student Anglers, sixth-place finishers Ryan Winchester and Justin Burris of Clinton High School, seventh-place finishers Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn of Clinton High School, and eighth-place finishers Ben Stone and Christopher Bensel of Dixie High School.


B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Fund Will Enhance Fisheries Conservation Efforts

B.A.S.S. Nation members create fish habitat with spider blocks in Oregon's Prineville Reservoir. Photo by Chuck Lang

The FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation arm of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is partnering with B.A.S.S. LLC, to form the B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Fund. The B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Fund will fund activities, projects and programs related to fisheries and aquatic resource conservation and research. The fund will be used exclusively by B.A.S.S. Nation state clubs to implement projects that enhance fisheries conservation on the grassroots level.

A donation from Simms Fishing Products provided the seed money for the new Conservation Fund which emphasizes grassroots approaches to restore fisheries resources and habitat in the U.S. and parts of Canada. The Conservation Fund will specifically target projects which benefit black bass species and their habitats.

The B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Fund is seeking proposals for new grant projects from B.A.S.S. Nation clubs beginning July 2013. The deadline to submit grant proposals is October 31, 2013. The awardees will be announced at the February 2014 Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Ala. The call for proposals will be sent from B.A.S.S. LLC to B.A.S.S. Nation clubs the first week in July 2013.

“The FishAmerica Foundation is pleased to partner with B.A.S.S. and its many B.A.S.S. Federation Nation clubs,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “B.A.S.S. has a long tradition of investing in fisheries and aquatic habitat conservation. Working with B.A.S.S. clubs to improve fisheries habitat is a natural extension of FishAmerica’s mission.”

According to B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Noreen Clough the partnership with FishAmerica provides B.A.S.S. a unique opportunity to expand their grassroots conservation efforts. “Grants made at a generous one to one match will allow B.A.S.S. clubs to expand their capabilities for fisheries and fish habitat conservation,” said Clough. “We thank Simms Fishing Products for providing their contribution to kick off our fundraising efforts. It’s important that we all do our part to ensure our fisheries and their habitats are healthy now and in the future.”

The FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation and research foundation of the American Sportfishing Association, is dedicated to keeping our fish and waters healthy. FishAmerica unites the sportfishing industry with conservation groups, government agencies, fishing tournament clubs and organizations, corporations and charitable foundations, investing in fisheries conservation and research across the country. FishAmerica’s matching grants empower citizen conservationists in their own communities. Since 1983 FishAmerica has invested more than $11 million in 1,000 fisheries conservation and research projects nationwide.

B.A.S.S. is a membership organization with approximately 500,000 members nationwide. Approximately 20,000 of those individual members are organized into clubs that are affiliated with B.A.S.S. Federation Nation chapters in 47 States, Canada, Italy, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Japan. In addition to participation in competitive fishing events, B.A.S.S. members are dedicated to fisheries conservation and youth education activities. Although B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its member, it remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access.

(Press release from the American Sportfishing Association.)


Another State Record Largemouth Caught in Oklahoma

Dale Miller with Oklahoma state record largemouth caught at Cedar Lake. ODWC photo.

Bass anglers have been making big news frequently in Oklahoma these past few months.

The latest is the second state largemouth in less than a year from Cedar Lake. Using an Alabama rig, Dale Miller caught the 14-pound, 13.7-ounce lunker on March 13. It measured 26 1/8 inches in length and 23 inches in girth.

“Last month, I bought a fishing license, and this month I have the state record for the largemouth bass,” said the angler from Panama, Okla.

Miller’s fish surpasses a 14-pound, 12.3-ounce bass caught by Benny Williams, Jr. on March 23, 2012.

"Catching the state record largemouth bass in Oklahoma is a huge deal, but it's even more significant that the state record largemouth has now been caught two springs in a row in less than 12 months' time from the same lake," said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). "It speaks to the quality of fishing we have in our state. It speaks to our Florida largemouth bass stocking program. And it speaks to our state's anglers."

This latest record follows the state playing host to the Bassmaster Classic in February and two 40-pounds-plus stringers caught at Arbuckle Lake in January. (See Oklahoma Stocking Turns Arbuckle into Big Bass Fishery.)

ODWC says this:

The last two state record largemouth bass as well as several from the state's Top 20 Largemouth Bass List have been caught in the southern and southeast regions of the state. Fish are cold-blooded, so their metabolisms work faster in warmer conditions and they grow more rapidly. Lakes in the southeast region of the state tend to warm up earlier and cool off later in the year than in other regions, which affords these fish a longer growing season.

According to Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department, Cedar Lake has been known to produce big largemouth bass for anglers in recent years --- not only because of its southeastern location, but also because it has a history of receiving Florida strain largemouth bass through the state's stocking program.

"They grow pretty fast down in that part of the state due to the long growing season," Gilliland said. "Cedar Lake has produced several double-digit fish in the last five years. The U.S. Forest Service played a role in the success story when they renovated Cedar Lake several years ago. This renovation created a "new lake environment" that along with the Florida-strain genetics, long growing season, good habitat and abundant forage has led Cedar Lake to become an outstanding bass fishery."

Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and a Wildlife Department employee must verify the weight. For a complete list of record fish and the procedures for certifying a state record, consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide" or log on to