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2019 BASSMASTER Classic – End of an era for some and a new beginning for others!
Category : BASS TOURNAMENT NEWS
Last month an era concluded in Knoxville, TN. The last event with the entire contingent of Bassmasters Elites will compete for what is billed as the Super Bowl of Bass fishing. It’s a long story but one that has been brewing for some time now. A new opportunity has presented itself to the pros with the formation of the upstart fishing circuit, Major League Fishing/Bass Pro Tour with the vast majority of pros moving on from the Bassmaster Elites. It was a bittersweet event with the anglers competing on the largest stage with the coveted Bassmaster Classic Champion title on the line. The storyline going in was Jordan Lee going to win his third Classic in a row or would the hometown/TN locals have the advantage? However, the specter of seeing the last Bassmaster Classic had both anglers and the fans in attendance wondering what lies ahead.
As I talked to many of the pros there was a sense of sadness and gratitude towards BASS who started the whole concept of big-time tournament bass fishing. BASS will still be a player on the world stage and has plans to restructure their own league. Things will be different with the sport moving to a point where the pros will make a decent living showcasing their talent and not go broke in the process. The mechanics of how both organizations will tailor the rules, formats, payouts, etc are still being formulated. Most of the fishing community has an idea of what has happened and somewhat of a grip of where the sport is going.
Back to the Classic in what turned out to be a nail biter event with multiple leader changes on an awesome fishery doing battle to the last day, even to the last fish! Day 1 saw Knoxville’s own Ott DeFoe jumping out to the early lead followed by Roy Hawk in second, Clifford Pirch in third and one of my favorites Justin Lucas current Angler of The Year in fourth with Jacob Wheeler rounding out the top 5. Day 2 saw some shifting of positions and a whole new set of players making moves of their own. Jacob Wheeler moved up to the top of the leader board followed by NorCal’s Mark Daniels Jr. a name you won’t soon forget. Former NorCal angler Chris Zaldain also made a giant move with a huge bag of swimbait fish, Ott DeFoe slipped on day 2 but was still in the hunt on his home water and Mike Iaconelli went “IKE” to shake things up going into the final day.
The final day watching Bassmaster Live had everyone on the edge of their chairs with numerous anglers making moves throughout the day. It all came down to the last minute, the last fish, the last cast and the last Bassmaster Classic as we know it, with an ending fitting the moment. Ott DeFoe the hometown Knoxville Pro pulled out the win in dramatic fashion with a well-deserved win before the biggest crowd in Bassmasters history! Jacob Wheeler another TN pro took second, in third was Jesse Wiggins follow by Mike going IKE Iaconelli in fourth and NorCal’s own Mark Daniels Jr remember this name in 5th!
In conclusion, the event set all kinds of records and BASS did another outstanding job. Through the years BASS has brought us to where we’re at today and most everyone I talked to is thankful. Quoting Bob Dylan, “The Times are a Changin”, with it we’ll see growing pains but in the end, the sport, fans and mainly the pros will see a brighter future. Last Hoorah? I don’t think so, a new beginning most defiantly! Who knows maybe ONE big circuit, food for thought! Until next time my friends, “CHomp On” . – Danny Barker
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