The Bassmaster Classic, widely considered to be the Super Bowl of bass fishing, will be held March 2426 in downtown Knoxville and on the University of Tennessee campus.
The prestigious tournament pits 55 of the best anglers in the world going head to head on the Tennessee River. The iconic Bassmaster Classic Trophy is to be named after BASS founder Ray Scott. Scott, who passed away in May at the age of 88, founded the first national professional bass fishing circuit, the Bassmaster Tournament Trail in 1967 and the following year founded B.A.S.S., which became the world’s largest fishing organization.
The defending 2022 Classic champion, Jason Christie of Dry Creek, will be vying to make it two in a row. There have been only three anglers in Classic history to win back to back crowns: Rick Clunn, Kevin Vandam and Jordan Lee respectively.
With the 2022 victory, Christie earned a payday of $300,000. He is the fifth Oklahoma angler to win the Classic, joining the late Don Butler, who resided in Tulsa, Charlie Reed, a resident from Broken Bow, the late Ken Cook from Meers, and Evers, who lives in Talala.
It was just announced the 2024 Classic will be returning to Grand Lake for the first time since 2016 when angler Edwin Evers of Talala weighed a whopping 29 pounds, three ounces on the final day to overtake Christie, who ended up finishing a respectable second.
Oklahomans always seem to have skin in the game. I spoke with Christie on the phone this week and he gave me his thoughts on the ins and outs of professional bass angling. As the defending champion of the Classic, he said the win last year made him more confident as a fisherman and right now he has a full slate of sponsors.
How does he fit it all in? “My sponsors are really respectful of my time,” said Christie “Fishing is first and videos and social media come second.”
Christie takes a look at what he is up against and what the fish as well as the other anglers are doing. “I try to put all the pieces together and make a game plan,” said Christie.
Christie said on this all-important week you want all cylinders firing. He wants to knock out any distractions. As far as the Classic being held in 2024 on Grand Lake in Oklahoma, he said he definitely doesn’t want to miss making the line-up for that one.
When the stakes are the highest and all of the marbles are on the table, Christie is driven to perform. There will certainly be enough pressure at the Classic in mid-March. When it comes to professional bass anglers, Christie always represents his home state of Oklahoma well.
Reach John Kilgore at [email protected]