3 min to read

Want to fish the BASSMASTER Classic?

Photo: B.A.S.S. Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S. Gary Tramontina

Here are 3 quick tips to start working on now!

The three-day attendance total for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport and Bossier City was 137,700, shattering the previous record of 82,600 at the 2003 Classic. The tournament field for the 2014 Classic consisted of 55 anglers, more than double the competitor Bobby Murray faced when he won the first classic in 1971.

The number of spectators who want to see the best bass anglers in the world is only continuing to grow, as the competition is fierce and fishing enthusiasts love the anticipation. But to even qualify for the $300,000 grand prize and Bassmaster Classic Trophy is a feat in itself. There have never been more than 61 participants in any Classic, which means only the most elite anglers will ever get a chance at the glory of being named Bassmaster Classic champion.

The following tips will help you prepare for this opportunity of a lifetime.

1. Know What’s Biting

Randy Howell, the 2014 Classic champion, caught most of his fish with a Rapala DT-6 crankbait, according to the World Fishing Network. Howell joked after the competition that he is not getting any sponsorship money from Rapala, but he proudly raised a chewed up DT-6 for the crowd to see and declared it one of the best lures you can buy because of the bite-triggering sound it produces when wet.

The 1999 Classic winner Davy Hite interviewed Howell a few hours before the weigh-ins and his Classic win. Though Hite failed to qualify for the 2014 classic at Lake Guntersville, he said the DT-6 would have been his lure of choice for the cold February waters of Northern Alabama. Randall Tharp, a long-time Alabama resident and fifth place finisher at the Classic this year, also used the DT-6 as his primary bait. Granted Tharp had a home-field advantage of sorts, but these are the breaks that are necessary for aspiring Classic champions to turn dreams into reality.

The 2015 Classic will be held at Lake Hartwell in the Upcountry of South Carolina from February 20-22, 2015. Those who are serious about winning and are currently on the circuit to qualify need to visit Greenville to talk to local fishermen and figure out which bait will bring home the hardware during that time of year. Your trip should take place sometime after mid-December, when the water temperature will be similar to when the competition starts.

Try out some of your own ideas as well. You may become a pioneer and a champion simultaneously if you discover the winning bait that even locals didn’t know about.

2. Go With Your Gut

Jason Christie has yet to take home from trophy for the Bassmaster Classic, but he has already qualified for the 2015 Classic at Lake Hartwell after winning the Bassmaster Elite event at Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark. this past May. He bested angling legend Rick Clune, a four-time Classic champion who finished fourth, while coming from three pounds back on the final day.

Joe Balog, owner of Millennium Promotion, a major player in the fishing industry, interviewed Christie for to figure out what keeps the Oklahoma pro focused. Christie said the only thing he can attribute to his success on the tournament circuit the past three years is always going with his gut. The decision-making process, as far as lure and pole selection, is a sixth-sense that the best fishermen channel and listen to.

The “book” and local anglers may tell you a spinnerbait is best, but your gut is telling you to use the Bento Bait that was highly successful for you a few weeks prior. Christie said those who are willing to take risks are the ones who are consistently finishing near the top of major tournaments. Setting goals is also counterproductive, he said. Take everything as it comes and things generally work themselves out.

3. Getting There

Though it will be a difficult task, it could still be done. The most direct path to participation in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic is to win one of the three remaining qualifying tournaments. The locations are at Lake St. Clair in Detroit from September 4-6; Muskogee, Okla. from September 11-13; and Lake Norman, N.C. from October 2-4.

Call 877-277-7872 for more details about registration and fees to participate. Not sure if your boating license is valid in these states? Visit to learn about state boating laws and whether you need to obtain a new license.

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