Big week in bass fishing in Tennessee Bassmaster

If you’re a fan of bass tournament fishing then you probably don’t need any introduction to the Bassmaster Classic. The flagship event of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society takes place this week in Knoxville, Tennessee on the Tennessee River. 54 anglers have qualified for this event, where a $300,000 prize will be awarded to the winner of the three day tournament.

It will be my fourth Classic and I’ve never been more excited for a tournament. Back in 2021 I was fortunate to win a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at this venue, my only win at the pro level. I haven’t been back to this fishery since but I’ve been excited for this one ever since the location was announced about a year ago.
I qualified for this year’s Classic based on my results on the Elite Series last year. The top 40 anglers in points at the end of the season qualify for the Classic. In addition to being the biggest tournament of the year, there is also a large outdoor expo that takes place in conjunction with the event. Most of the manufacturers of bass fishing equipment will be in attendance, as will most media outlets and personalities associated with bass fishing.

To get to fish this tournament is about as good of a dream as it gets for me. I can remember watching coverage of the Classic on TV when I was a kid. I could tell you who the winner was just about every year since the mid-90s. There is a lot of prestige around the event because it has been taking place for over 50 years and winning cements a legacy in tournament bass fishing. This event also gets more media coverage than any other tournament so being part of it is a big deal for sponsors.

Having had success at this waterbody in the past adds a little bit of pressure heading into this tournament because the expectations are higher. Having done this for over a decade, I can tell you that the same locations and patterns are almost always different on these southern reservoirs from year to year so it’s going to be different. The challenge is going to be trying to relocate the same quality of fish.

When we were here in 2021, I caught limits of smallmouths four days in a row. Heading into that event, the prognosticators said that catching multiple limits of smallmouths was almost impossible because this body of water has an 18” minimum size to keep them, so to put one in your live well, it has to be a relatively big fish. An 18” smallmouths is almost guaranteed to be at least three pounds.

This tournament is about a month later in the year than the 2021 event so it could be that the deep water smallmouths I caught the last time will have already abandoned those haunts and made a move for shallower water. If they do, they’ll be much harder to find, as they spread out. The good news is that the weather leading up to the event has been cold so that should help in keeping some of the fish out deeper, which is where I want to fish.

My plan is to enjoy every minute this week in Knoxville and if it’s meant to be, hopefully I’ll make the most of the opportunity I have this week. The Bassmaster Classic runs from Friday through Sunday and full coverage of the tournament can be found at the website. Three other Canadian anglers are fishing the tournament as well, brothers Chris and Cory Johnston, as well as Cooper Gallant, all from Southern Ontario. The full field of 54 anglers fishes the first two days before the field is cut to 25 for the final day.