Bass tournaments and the Bassmasters Classic have changed bass fishing. The Bass Master's Classic is the Super Bowl of bass fishing.
Bass Fishing Before Tournaments
My first memories of bass fishing are of peaceful, quiet sunrises and sunsets, fishing from the bank or from a wooden jon boat an uncle or family friend had made. I had one rod and reel, a closed faced spincast reel on a solid fiberglass rod. I was really uptown when I got a Mitchell 300 spinning reel on a two piece, hollow fiberglass rod.
We would get to the pond or lake before daylight and fish for a couple of hours after sunrise, returning a few hours before dark to fish a little more. Bass fishing was a spring or summertime activity and there was no use fishing during the middle of the day. If you saw another fisherman, it was unusual and you probably knew them and would stop and talk. No one fished much more than 20 miles from their house.
We always wanted to catch more fish than whoever we were fishing with, but it was a different approach. One person would paddle the boat while the other fished, and then swap places after a set amount of time or number of fish caught. If fishing from the bank you started in the same place and went in opposite directions, meeting up again on the other side, passing and then fishing used water.
That all changed in the late 1960's. Ray Scott started the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and competitive bass fishing was born. On February 23 - 25, 2007, over 100,000 people will visit the outdoor show and watch the weigh-in of the top 50 anglers including the top pros and 6 amateur fishermen in a tournament that will pay the winner $500,000. That winner can count on making more than a million dollars during the next three to five years if he promotes himself right.
Today, serious tournament fishermen pull a $30,000+ bass boat behind an equally expensive tow vehicle. They carry 15 to 30 rod and reel combos that will be perfect for any conditions they may find. And their tackle boxes and bags would put a small sporting goods store to shame. These fishermen spend hours every night sharpening hooks, replacing line and customizing lures. They live bass fishing every minute of the day - and night.
Tournaments are 8 to 10 hour fishing frenzies and the fisherman sits down only while blasting down the lake at sixty miles per hour or more. When casting, he or she stands on the casting deck and works at finding a bass. An electric motor moves the boat in any direction the fisherman wants. It is an efficient bass catching machine, both boat and fisherman, that hits the water in today's fishing world.
Qualifying For The Classic
The 44 pro fishermen have earned their way to the BASS Masters Classic by accumulating points in the tournaments during the year. The six amateurs fished in local bass clubs and finished high enough to go to their state tournament. They caught enough fish at the state tournament to make the Top 12 state team that went on to a regional tournament. The top man from each state team at the regional tournament then fishes a national tournament against the other team winners, and if he is the highest fisherman from his region, he fishes the Classic. In the history of the Classic it has been won only once by one of these amateurs.
The Classic is the biggest tournament in bass fishing.