Here's how you can watch the "Super Bowl" of bass fishing.
It's late winter, and that means it is nearly time for the biggest bass fishing tournament of the year, the Geico Bassmaster Classic, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods. This year the big event is being held on the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 15-17.
This event marks the first time the event has been held on the Tennessee River. The weigh-in at the end of each day will happen at the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus.
There is $300,00 and fishing infamy on the line. Here's how fishing fans can watch all the bass fishing action next month.
How to Follow the Action
If you're not able to make the trip to Knoxville, there are several ways to keep up on all the action of the event. Bassmaster.com will be live-streaming the fishing action at 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. each day of the tournament, and the weigh-ins at 4 p.m. Eastern time. ESPN will also be streaming the fishing action on ESPN3 and their ESPN app each day.
You can also follow the action on Bassmaster's BassTrakk leaderboard and Twitter feed. You can use Bassmaster.com and these feeds to also follow all the Bassmaster Elite Series and the Toyota Bassmaster of the Year Championship throughout the rest of the season.
ESPN2 will air three episodes of coverage after the event on March 31, April 7, and April 11.
There are 53 anglers vying for the title of Bassmaster Classic Champion this year in Tennessee. They include:
- Casey Ashley - Donalds, South Caroina
- Adrian Avena - Vineland, New Jersey
- Drew Benton - Panama City, Florida
- Josh Bertrand - San Tan Valley, Arizona
- Brent Champman - Lake Quivira, Kansas
- Jason Christie - Parkhill, Oklahoma
- Mark Daniels Jr. - Tuskegee, Alabama
- Ott DeFoe - Knoxville, Tennessee
- Kyle Dorsett - Odenville, Alabama
- Brent Ehrler - Newport Beach, California
- James Elam - Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Edwin Evers - Talala, Oklahoma
- Todd Faircloth - Jasper, Texas
- Seth Feider - New Market, Minnesota
- Micah Frazier - Newnan, Georgia
- Jacopo Gallelli - Firenze, Italy
- Roy Hawk - Lake Havasu, Arizona
- Brett Hite - Phoenix, Arizona
- Derek Hudnall - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Michael Iaconelli - Pittsgrove, New Jersey
- Alton Jones Jr. - Lorena, Texas
- Bobby Lane - Lakeland, Florida
- Chris Lane - Guntersville, Alabama
- Jordan Lee - Grant Alabama
- Brandon Lester - Fayetteville, Tennessee
- Jared Linter - Arroyo Grande, California
- Justin Lucas - Guntersville, Alabama
- Aaron Martens - Leeds, Alabama
- Andy Montogomery - Blacksburg, South Carolina
- Cliff Pace - Petal, Mississippi
- Brandon Palaniuk - Hayden, Idaho
- Garrett Paquette - Canton, Michigan
- Randy Pierson - Oakdale, California
- Cliff Pirch - Payson, Arizona
- Keith Poche - Pike Road, Arizona
- Jacob Powroznik - North Prince George, Virginia
- Nick Ratliff - Elizabethtown, Kentucky
- Skeet Reese - Auburn, California
- Matt Robertson - Donalds, South Carolina
- Dean Rojas - Lake Havasu, Arizona
- Bradley Roy - Lancaster, Kentucky
- Gerald Spohrer - Gonzales, Louisiana
- Wesley Strader - Spring city, Tennessee
- Gerald Swindle - Guntersville, Alabama
- Frank Talley - Temple, Texas
- Randall Tharp - Port St. Joe, Florida
- Kevin VanDam - Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Brad Whatley - Bivins, Texas
- Jacob Wheeler - Harrison, Tennessee
- Jake Whitaker - Fairview, North Carolina
- Jesse Wiggins - Cullman, Alabama
- Chris Zaldain - Fort Worth, Texas
Names to Watch
Here are some of our best guesses on who may walk away with bragging rights and a $300,000 prize come March.
Jordan Lee - All eyes will be on this 27-year old all weekend. And not just because he's the reigning champion, but because he's won the last two in a row. Lee is only the sixth angler ever to win the Classic twice. He could make further history with a win, joining fishing legends Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam as the only anglers to win it three times. He could also become the first to win titles back-to-back-to-back. In his first title win, he made the largest comeback ever in Bassmaster Classic history. He started the final day in 15th place before erasing an incredible 13-pound, 14-ounce deficit to win. So, it is hard to count Lee out, no matter where he stands on the final day of fishing.
Brandon Lester - A Tennessee angler who may understand better than anyone else in the field how the Tennessee bass will be behaving come March.
Aaron Martens - He has fished this tournament 19 times and in heartbreaking fashion, finished in second place in four different Classic Tournaments in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2011. We think he's hungry for another run at it because he finished at No. 6 in the Angler of the Year standings in 2018. We would certainly enjoy seeing 2019 finally being the year Martens gets the monkey off his back.
Ott DeFoe - DeFoe won't have to pack for a long business trip for this one, seeing as he's from Knoxville. Having a home water advantage might make a huge difference in this tournament. He also ranked No. 4 in the 2018 Angler of the Year standings.
Kevin VanDam - Kevin is right there in the conversation when it comes to the "greatest of all time." With 27 Classic appearances and four wins under his belt, there is no denying his legacy. He hasn't won a Classic in a while, but you can never count KVD out of any tournament. Don't forget he still holds the record for the heaviest creel ever, a whopping 69 pounds, 11 ounces during his 2011 win in Louisiana.
Skeet Reese - With 18 classic appearances and one win under his belt, Reese finished 31 on the Angler of the Year rankings last year. He's always a name that pops up when it comes to Classic contenders, and we had to list him here.
Fish love, it’s real! This was my big fish from the last time I fished Lake Conroe, and I hope to find more like her...
Michael Iaconelli - Love him or not, the man knows how to fish. This will be his 19th appearance in the Super Bowl of bass fishing for Ike, and we're sure he'd love to add some more hardware to go along with his 2003 championship.
Brent Chapman - He has 13 Classic appearances in at this point. He finished in the top 5 for Angler of the Year rankings last year and we think he's hungry for a championship.
Nick Ratliff - There is a lot of buzz around this young angler going into the 2019 classic. He has been on a hot streak since winning the Bassmaster 2018 Rookie of the Year and many believe if someone this young is going to win the big one, it may be Ratliff.
Throwback to a Florida trip in 2016. I’m ready to hear “lines in!”#tbt #floridafishing #letsgofishing #mlfheartbeat #sunset_ig #bassprotour
Bradley Roy - He only has two Classic appearances, but he finished No. 3 in the Angler of the Year rankings in 2018. Impressive stuff. Plus, he's from neighboring Kentucky, which means he'll probably have some idea of how the fish behave in Tennessee.
Dean Rojas - he's sitting at number 15 in the Angler of the Year rankings and this is his 15th Classic appearance. He may be due for a title.
Justin Lucas - He only has three Classic appearances under his belt, but he won the 2018 Angler of the Year last year and we wouldn't be surprised if he uses the momentum from that as a springboard to a classic win in 2019.
The Tennessee River was stocked with Florida-strain largemouths about four years ago, so there is some potential for some notable-sized largemouth bass here. But some serious strategy will likely be in play as well.
Anglers can fish the river or the attached Tellico and Fort Loudoun reservoirs. In all, it's a huge area to fish at around 30,000 acres, according to B.A.S.S. We certainly don't envy the anglers in trying to pick a spot to fish!
There will likely be some strategy in deciding what species to target too. The minimum length for largemouths in the tournament is set at a modest 14 inches. But the river is also full of large smallmouth bass. The kicker is that minimum length for smallies has been set pretty high at 18 inches, which is a big smallmouth. As a result, an angler targeting smallmouths might be gambling a bit.
Of course, all it takes is one angler running into one large school of bronze backs to break the tournament wide open. It will be interesting to see what strategies come into play in this huge tournament come March!