It's official: Lake Guntersville in Birmingham, Alabama will host the 50th Bassmaster Classic next year.
The 50th Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK's Sporting Goods is going to be big, and what better lake is there to host the golden anniversary event than Lake Guntersville?
B.A.S.S. officially announced the location of the Super Bowl of fishing tournaments, happening March 6-8, 2020.
The Classic Outdoors Expo and daily weigh-ins will go down at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in downtown Birmingham, which was also the site of the announcement from B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.
"It's fitting that the golden anniversary Classic be held in Alabama, where B.A.S.S. was founded more than 50 years ago," Akin said. "Our plans are to make this the most spectacular celebration of bass fishing in history. Throughout the current Bassmaster Elite Series tournament season, we are celebrating 'The Year of the Fan'--our way of saying 'thank you' to the millions of bass fishing fans who make this sport so great. The celebration will culminate in the Classic here in Birmingham."
Since B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott sparked its inception in October, 1971, the Bassmaster Classic has been held in Alabama 12 times, and in Birmingham specifically eight times. Lake Guntersville has hosted 22 major B.A.S.S. events, and the Classic twice--in 1976 and 2014.
A tournament of the Classic's size needs the right mix of local accommodations, quality angling opportunities, and diehard fishing interest. Birmingham, Alabama, and the Guntersville region specifically, match those requirements perfectly.
"We are thrilled that the Bassmaster Classic will be returning to the Birmingham region once again," said John Oros, president and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. "This event is the pinnacle of professional bass fishing and it attracts the greatest anglers in the world. The tournament reinforces the fact that the Birmingham area is a great professional and amateur sports destination. We expect that the economic impact of the event will equal or exceed the $32 million spent in hotels, restaurants, attractions and retailers this past year in Knoxville, Tenn."
The first Bassmaster Classic on Nevada's Lake Mead saw 24 bass anglers vying for the $10,000 prize with identical boats and motors. Nowadays, the format is bigger, the field is more than twice as large, and the winner's payout has reached $300,000 (the total amount of prize money for top finishers reaches $1 million).
"The Classic is literally a life-changing event for the angler who wins," said B.A.S.S. Director Chase Anderson. "It exemplifies what Bassmaster competition stands for: 'Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams.' It honors the angler who can catch the biggest bass of the week, and weigh them on the biggest stage in bass fishing, and fulfill the biggest dream any angler can have. No title in professional fishing holds the same clout as 'Classic champion.'"
Who will hoist the trophy and claim that title next year? It's hard to say, but you can count on all eyes in the professional bass fishing industry focusing in on Lake Guntersville next March for the biggest American bass tournament there is.