By Captain Jay
The Bassmaster Classic Experience
What in the world are you saltwater guys doing at the Bassmaster Classic? Well, it all started last summer when we had the opportunity to meet James Hall, the editor of “Bassmaster” magazine. Of course, the meeting involved “fish talk”, but this time it was on our turf …. saltwater. During our conversation, James asked if we had ever attended the Classic, and my answer was “no.” He was amazed. By the end of our conversation, we were making plans to attend. There were many reasons we wanted to attend but the biggest was that we wanted to see, learn, and be part of the biggest show in fishing.
Dwayne Smith (The Redfish Guys) and I left Morehead City late Thursday, met up with Price in Charlotte, and headed south to Lake Hartwell for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.
South usually equates to warmer weather, but not this time. Fishing was delayed several hours Friday morning (Day 1) out of concern for icy conditions at the boat launch site caused by unusually low temperatures in South Carolina. These rapidly changing conditions proved to be challenging for the anglers throughout the event.
The Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo, at the TD Center in Greenville, allowed companies to display, interact, and sell to consumers. Boats, motors, trucks, electronics, rods, reels, and tons of fishing tackle were on hand for fans to checkout. At the Expo, bass fishing fans have the opportunity to mingle with some of the biggest names in the sport, including Kevin Van Dam, who failed to qualify for this year’s Classic. Kevin was a great sport to include filming a parody where he showed up at the Classic and tried to fish.
It was great to see and spend time with fellow saltwater anglers Mark Davis from PENN’s BigWater Adventures, The Rock Doc Fishing Team and The Under Armour Fishing Team all there to support their sponsors.
Our advice to the “newbie” attendee is to head to the Expo on Friday. The crowd was smaller than on Saturday and a little easier to navigate on the show floor. We enjoyed learning about new products, visiting with friends and sponsors, and meeting new ones.
Here are a few products and companies to check out from the Expo:
- HUK – www.hukgear.com
is an up and coming company that produces performance fishing apparel with UV protection and lightweight rain gear and technical fishing clothing. The Huk Team Pro Staff continues to grow with Kevin Van Dam, Skeet Reese, Brandon Palaniuk, Mark Davis, Gerald Swindle, and others, on board. The HUK team is moving, and you will want to check them out.
- Buck Knives – www.buckknives.com
Do yourself a favor by checking out the new Splizzors. They are a multi-function tool that combines the use of scissors and pliers to create a versatile tool designed for any fishing task. They literally cannot make these fast enough, and we really like ours! Be on the lookout for the saltwater version (blue handle) coming out soon that features Cerakote™ coating adding additional corrosion resistance benefits.
- Rigid Industries – www.rigidindustries.com
Are you in the market for superior LED lighting? All LED’s are not equal. Check out the Rigid Team. Rigid Industries has revolutionized the lighting world. Boat, car, truck, scene lighting, and more; these guys make it all.
- Folds of Honor – www.foldsofhonor.org
is a great organization doing great things for the families of our fallen/disabled military heroes.
- Mustang Survival –www.mustangsurvival.com
Tournament anglers, if you are in the market for a new inflatable jacket, check out the Elite Inflatable PFD and for cold weather the Catalyst Flotation jacket is perfect.
As most of you know, we have streamed and covered saltwater fishing tournaments for 4 years. The saltwater community can learn a lot from the freshwater side, in particular the show BASS put on. BASS has large budgets and audiences, and there is a lot to learn from them. When you visit in person, you can appreciate all the work that goes into making this the biggest show in fishing.
How do they get all the LIVE information? Competitors have Bassmaster Marshals or members of the press on their boats. Throughout the day, they keep everyone up to date by sending photos and updates from the water. BassTrakk, a real-time catch report with a leaderboard and Live Blog on Bassmaster.com, allows fans to follow the action. New this year, BASS utilized LIVE video feeds from the water as hosts Dave Mercer, Mark Zona, and guests commented in front of a live audience from the Expo floor while streaming live to the web.
The daily weigh-ins took place at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in front of large, energetic crowds. The buildup, music, crowd, and just the environment helped make this the BIG SHOW in fishing. It’s the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, and the World Series of fishing. Host Dave Mercer does a fantastic job interacting with the anglers and crowds to help make the show entertaining.
BASS does a great job of keeping the suspense growing as they head into the final day weigh-in. It all comes down to the Super 6! The Super 6 are the final top 6 anglers who make their way to the arena and are announced individually. Casey Ashley, a South Carolina native, caught five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 3 ounces to win. This weight was just enough to help take over the lead from Spiderwire Pro Bobby Lane, Jr., who finished second with 46-15, with Takahiro Omori taking third with 44-3. Click here to view the entire leaderboard — >>> http://www.bassmaster.com/tournaments/2015-bassmaster-classic/results/1/
We were amazed with the level of involvement from the fans during the event. Young and old alike there is something for everyone. There was no cost to attend the Expo and the daily weigh-ins. This allowed visitors and fans to visit and meet their favorite Professional anglers. It was great to see them on the show floor taking pictures, signing autographs, inspiring future anglers and in sponsor’s booths demoing the latest products.
If you ever get the chance to attend the Bassmaster Classic, DO IT! It’s where dreams are made, careers are launched, and the future of the sport inspired.