Really enjoyed being at ‘Classic’

After a quick week at home, I was back on the road late last week and had an eventful weekend attending my first Bassmaster Classic tournament in Birmingham, Ala.
The Bassmaster Classic is the biggest bass tournament in the world, hands down. It is the year-end championship of the Bassmaster Elite Series that includes a handful of anglers who qualify through other avenues.
It has a lot of history, and has changed the lives of many anglers over the years who have been fortunate to win the event.
The first-place prize for winning the Classic is $300,000, but it’s been estimated that winning this tournament could earn the winner upwards of $1 million through endorsements.
FLW Outdoors, which operates the FLW Tour events that I’m fishing this year, is a separate organization from Bassmasters, but it is comparable in the money paid out, the way they operate, and the quality of competition.
There is a little bit more prestige in winning the Bassmaster Classic than there is in FLW’s year-end championship, the Forrest Wood Cup, because of their long history in bass fishing—even though the FLW Championship pays its winner $500,000.
Attending this event over the weekend was pretty special for me because it is something that I’ve followed since I was a little kid. In fact, I probably could name the winner of every one of these events dating back to the early 1990s.
Birmingham is located in the bass-fishing heartland of the United States. I was told over the weekend that there were more tournament bass anglers within 100 km of Birmingham than around any other big centre in the country, so they had no problem filling the Birmingham Civic Center (which probably is the size of the MTS Centre in Winnipeg) for the final weigh-in.
People here definitely are passionate about their bass fishing!
To go along with the tournament, there is a big outdoor show in the attached convention centre, with nearly every fishing company represented. I was working at the show over the weekend with Shimano, which is a great sponsor for me.
I did a few seminars over the weekend, as well, and it was funny how many people down here made fun of my Canadian accent!
Since Shimano is a sponsor of the event, I was able to get into a few special events, including the Champion’s Toast, which took place Sunday night after everything was over.
This probably was the highlight of the weekend for me because I was in a room with many of the top professional bass anglers in the world, both past and present. I have met quite a few of these guys, but there were plenty there that I had never crossed paths with before.
It was pretty cool.
This week, I’m killing time fun fishing in South Carolina before I get to start pre-fishing this weekend at Lake Hartwell—site of the second FLW Tour derby of the season next week.
I figured I would just stay down here to get some fishing in rather than spend a few days travelling this week.
Though I miss home, I’m not complaining because I’ve been getting the weather reports every day from my wife, August.
Stay warm, everybody!