In an attempt to communicate the scope, grand spectacle, and popularity of the Bassmaster Classic, it is frequently referred to as the “Super Bowl” of fishing tournaments. This grand 3-day fishing fest will take place in Alabama on Lake Guntersville, February 21-23. By winning one of the 2013 Bassmaster tournaments or placing high enough consistently, a select group of professional anglers achieves their goal to compete in the yearly main event. There are some explanations required with this analogy though.
1. There are 56 opponents, not just two. But only 25 will survive to fish the final, third day.
2. Each angler competes against the others but this is almost secondary to the real battle: the struggle to land bass. No one cheers for the bass to win; the audience wants to see plenty of big fish caught (and released.)
3. There is no field, but sometimes there is grass. This time the tournament takes place on Lake Guntersville, which is known for massive stretches of this giant bass holding aquatic vegetation.
4. This year’s Super Bowl was played outdoors. Every Classic is played outdoors. Last year’s event on Grand Lake in Oklahoma, the temperature at the first boat launch was 22 degrees. Fortunately, the forecast for this year’s event is calling for highs in the 50s and 60s.
5. There is an arena, but it is 80 miles from the lake. For the stage weigh-in, fish are transported, photographed, and then returned to the lake, unharmed. Because of the cool water temperatures, highly efficient live-wells, and extreme care in handling, no fish were lost at last year’s event which had a similar transportation distance.
6. There are several “home teams.” Elite anglers like Chris Lane, Randy Howell, and Gerald Swindle might consider Lake Guntersville to be their “home lake” and have a great deal of experience here. However, historically, a home lake advantage rarely results in hoisting the trophy. Also of note, last year’s champion, Cliff Pace, will not be able to defend his title due to an unfortunate accident when he fell out of a deer stand and broke his leg.
7. Thousands of fans attend this contest too. If you include all of the event’s venues, estimates will place the figure at over 100,000 fans. Many will even launch their spectator boats and join the competitors on the “field.” As bassing blogger Jay Kumar asked, “Are there any other sports where you have to plan around the crowd being on the playing field?”
I plan to be among the 100,000 attendees and will try to post a few times.
Will I see you there?
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.