It is difficult for most people to wake up before it’s light on a weekend, even if they are going fishing. Now, try this, buy a plane ticket to another city and justify getting up in the dark to watch someone drive their boat away from the dock and go fish for the day while you walk back to you’re hotel room to have breakfast. Ask an Angler who follows professional fishing and they won’t flinch when faced with this dilemma if they know they are attending the Bassmaster Classic.
The Bassmaster Classic has been called the biggest tournament in bass fishing. Winning it has turned hometown anglers into world-wide celebrities. I was lucky enough to attend this year in Knoxville, Tennessee. The first two days I woke up early, with my cousins, to walk from our hotel to the Tennessee River to watch the anglers take off. We arrived almost two hours early on Friday and Saturday and were among almost 6,000 fans, a record attendance, who watched the anglers head out for the day.
A typical day at the Bassmaster Classic consisted of getting up early to be able to see our favorite anglers head out for the day, followed by heading to the convention center to check out the latest equipment and sales and then getting to the University of Tennessee’s campus arena two to three hours early to watch weigh-in at 4:00pm. Everywhere you went, you could find someone to talk with about fishing and signs for “The Classic” were everywhere! Our hotel was centrally located and we walked about four or five miles a day.
Highlights of the trip included hearing our favorite anglers’ names introduced before take off, listening to Dave Mercer interview fishermen on stage during weigh-in, seeing the latest trucks and boats and attending the expo. where we met professional anglers. It was exciting to meeting legendary anglers at breakfast, in the hotel lobby, at dinner, and at the booths of our favorite fishing companies. People who don’t follow tournament angling won’t understand what it’s like to run into Roland Martin in a hotel lobby, and meet anglers like Jordan Lee, Greg Hackney, Jason Christie, Brent Ehrler, Ish Monroe, and Gary Klein in the same day.
The Bassmaster Classic was an experience that I will remember forever. Trying to explain why it was so great won’t do it justice. Just know, that if you love fishing, attending the Classic will be an experience that you won’t forget. I won’t forget it and my experience was made even better by watching Ott Defoe win on his home waters!