It was easy to get caught up in the drama of last weekend’s 2013 Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With a storm of snow and ice, followed by 21 degrees at the Day 1 launch, just being on a boat in the ultimate fishing contest was brutal. Numb fingers make it difficult to cast and change lures. Or, as Bassmaster Elite angler Gerald Swindle joked, “you can’t pick your nose at 21 degrees.”
With a “marshal” in each boat continually updating catches, the competitors were ranked and pitted against each other. Followers of competitive bass fishing kept a close eye on the competition, knowing each angler’s strengths, weakness, and preferred methods. However ultimately, it always comes down to a brief underwater encounter between some cold, lethargic Grand Lake bass and the anglers’ ability to trick a fish into thinking it was going to have an easy snack.
The numbers from this event were staggering. Just producing the Bassmaster Classic required seven miles of wire and 575 video panels installed in the video screens for the weigh-ins, and more production equipment than six semi trucks could carry. The estimated attendance was 100,000, with an expected economic impact to Tulsa and the region in the neighborhood of $26 million.
“All This From Fish” is the phrase in the background of an oil painting of a fish jumping over a castle given to Bassmaster Elite angler Michael Iaconelli. “Ike” finished fourth in this event, with a three-day total weight of 48 pounds, 5 oz. And yes, every one of those ounces matters.
But maybe the phrase should be “All This From Water.” Officials noted that to pull off an event of this magnitude requires a facility able to handle it. The BOK Center in Downtown Tulsa and the adjoining Expo center certainly were up to the task. However, none of this would have occurred if not for a very healthy, productive lake thanks in large part to the efforts of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership held a Freshwater Media Summit at the Bassmaster Classic and although there were some differing opinions between the experts and speakers, everyone agreed that it is critical to protect all water resources.
For catching fish. In a lake with great water quality.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.