Whether they are in Tulsa, Okla., Feb. 22-24 to be at the world championship of bass fishing, or watch the action on Bassmaster.com, fans have a lot to look forward to. While it is certainly the most prestigious competition in the sport, the Classic is also an annual celebration of all things bass fishing.
B.A.S.S. is giving fans multiple ways to be a part of the Classic, and they’re all free. Here’s a hint of what anglers and their families can expect:
At the Launch: Fans are invited to come out and watch 53 of the world’s best anglers slip their slick new bass rigs into Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. The takeoff time is set for 7 a.m. at Wolf Creek (GPS help: Grove, OK 74344). Fans are advised to be there much earlier than 7 a.m. so they can see the rigs in tow, just before the boats touch water. Star-spotting is part of the morning fun — Kevin VanDam, Gerald Swindle, Michael Iaconelli, Skeet Reese and others will be there.
At the Expo: Anyone could easily fill an entire day at the annual Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. A die-hard bass fan could fill three days, no problem. The Expo will take place Friday, Feb. 22, from noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The venue is the Tulsa Convention Center in downtown Tulsa (GPS help: 100 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103).
What’s at the show? Ho, ho ho, it doesn’t take Santa to know. The short answer is: anything an anglers’ hearts’ desires. For starters, there are the newest bass boats and engines to see up close. Experts are on hand to answer any question a visitor might have about a boat and motor. Tip: Ask about test rides. Then there are the add-ons that all the best bass boats wear, from Power-Pole positioning devices to the newest in fishfinding and GPS technology.
Want more? New Toyota Trucks. High-tech apparel for fishing, for work (like Carhartt) or just for fun. Did we forget to mention fishing tackle? No, we did not. The place is packed with tackle, some of it never before shown to the public.
Look for contests, giveaways, seminars and special appearances. Many well-known pro bass anglers will be at the various booths. Tip: Classic competitors are known to show up at the Expo after the weigh-in.
Another tip: Be prepared to make decisions. Show-goers don’t have to leave the exhibit hall with a bad case of look-can’t-buy. Retailers, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, will be there stocked and ready to sell.
At the weigh-in: This is the main attraction. Arena doors open each day at 3 p.m. at the BOK Center. That’s right across the street from the where the Expo will be, so it’s a park-once-and-you’re-done deal for those driving to the downtown destinations. Fans are advised to come early, get a good seat and enjoy some surprise entertainment.
The first two days all 53 of the Classic competitors will walk across the stage. We can’t guarantee they’ll all pull lunkers out of their livewells, but it’s a rare Classic angler who doesn’t have a good fish or two to show off to the crowd. On the final day, when the field is cut to the Top 25, a $500,000 first prize will be on the line. If previous Classic finales are any indication, the excitement level will hit the rafters, and the crowd will rock the stands.
At Bassmaster.com: Whether in Tulsa or at home, fans will want to be online as much as possible. Bassmaster.com visitors will have lots of company: In 2012, Bassmaster.com received 27 million page views during the “Classic month” of February.
“There’s significant interest and passion for this event. For Classic 2013, we’re going to supersize it. We’ll be giving fans a ‘live’ experience. We don’t feel we can go overboard,” said Jim Sexton, B.A.S.S. vice president, digital.
Bassmaster.com will offer an enhanced Classic War Room experience. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the War Room will live stream the latest news from the water, backstage and arena. War Room regulars will be Bassmaster personalities Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona of The Bassmasters TV show, and Bassmaster emcee Dave Mercer.
Live streaming of the weigh-ins will begin at 4:30 p.m. CT each day. Fans, Sexton said, should log on much earlier to watch pre-show events and the updates from BassTrakk, the system that reports catch data from the water as it happens. That data will be available all day.
While we’re not at all sure exactly what a sugarplum is, we do know fishing and the Bassmaster Classic. For up-to-the minute news about more additions to the 43rd Classic, go to www.Bassmaster.com, or visit www.TulsaSports.org/Bassmaster.
For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.
2013 Classic qualifiers and their qualification route are:
Defending Bassmaster Classic Champion
Chris Lane of Guntersville, Ala.
Bassmaster Elite Series Champions
Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan.
Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala.
Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas
Alton Jones of Waco, Texas
Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif.
Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho
Jeremy Starks of Scott Depot, W.Va.
Jonathon VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.
Bassmaster Opens Series Champions
Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C.
Hank Cherry of Maiden, N.C.
Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla.
Pete Gluszek of Mt. Laurel, N.J.
Josh Wagy of Dewitt, Va.
Casey Scanlon of Lenexa, Kan.
Bassmaster Federation Nation Champions
Andy Bravence of Globe, Ariz. (Western Division)
Jonathan Carter of South Portland, Maine (Eastern Division)
Mark Dove of North Vernon, Ind. (Northern Division)
Gerry Jooste of Harare, Zimbabwe (Mid-Atlantic Division)
Jared Knuth of Wahoo, Neb. (Central Division)
Mark Pierce of Clarksville, Tenn. (Southern Division)
Bassmaster Weekend Series Champion
Bassmaster College Champion
Matt Lee of Auburn, Ala.
Bassmaster Angler of the Year Points Rank
Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla.
Brandon Card of Caryville, Tenn.
John Crews of Salem, Va.
Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark.
Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn.
Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla.
Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Fla.
Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La.
Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala.
Randy Howell of Springville, Ala.
Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J.
Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla.
Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala.
Jared Lintner of Arroyo Grande, Calif.
Bill Lowen of Brookville, Ind.
Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala.
Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark.
Yusuke Miyazaki of Forney, Texas
Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas
Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss.
Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla.
Jason Quinn of Lake Wylie, S.C.
Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif.
Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C.
Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla.
Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala.
Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.
David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn.
Nate Wellman of Newaygo, Mich.