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VOL. 42 | NO. 26 | Friday, June 29, 2018

2019 Geico Bassmaster Classic guide

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The 2019 Bassmaster Classic will be the 49th world championship of bass fishing.

The Classic will be held on the Tennessee River at Knoxville, March 15-17.

A total of 50 anglers will compete.

The Classic is a no-entry-fee tournament open only to top-ranked anglers who qualify through one of several B.A.S.S. tournament events.

The first-place prize is $300,000.

The total prize payout for the Classic is more than $1 million.

This will be the first Classic based in Knoxville.

Tennessee Ties

Knoxville will host the prestigious Bassmaster Classic in 2019, the third time in its 48-year history that it has been held on Tennessee waters.

1972 – Don Butler, Percy Priest Reservoir, Nashville

1986 – Charlie Reed, Tennessee River, Chattanooga

B.A.S.S. has never held a professional tournament on the Tennessee River. However, two B.A.S.S. National Championships have been held on Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes, in 1998 and 2000.

The local host for the event is Visit Knoxville.

Fishing venues

Takeoffs will be from Volunteer Landing, 956 Volunteer Landing Lane, Knoxville.

Tournament waters include Fort Loudoun Lake and Tellico Lake, as well as the waters of the Tennessee River upstream to the Interstate 40 bridge on the Holston River and the Hwy. 186 bridge on the French Broad River.

Combined, the surface area of Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes is about 30,000 acres.

Fort Loudoun Lake contains 14,600 acres and offers 379 miles of shoreline.

Tellico Lake contains 15,560 acres and 357 miles of shoreline.

It is approximately 55 miles by water from the Fort Loudoun Dam to the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers, about 5 miles upriver from the launch in Knoxville.

Weigh-in events

Daily weigh-ins will take place each afternoon, March 15-17, 2019, in the Thompson Boling Arena on The University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus alongside the Tennessee River.

The arena is the fifth-largest college arena in the country, seating more than 20,000.

The Expo

The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held Friday-Sunday, March 15-17, 2019, in downtown Knoxville at the Knoxville Convention Center and the adjacent World’s Fair Exhibition Hall, which was newly renovated in the spring of 2018. Total Expo space is 220,000 square feet.

Economic impact

All activities and venues are free and open to the public.

All venues are in the downtown Knoxville/The University of Tennessee at Knoxville areas and are within two miles of each other.

For the past decade, combined attendance at Classic venues has averaged more than 100,000.

Attendance at the 2018 Classic at Greenville and Anderson, South Carolina, set a new record: 143,323.

The Bassmaster Classic has a huge economic impact on the host city and state.

Independent analyses have placed the direct economic impact at $24-$25 million.

B.A.S.S. secures nearly 4,000 hotel room nights for the event. With exhibitors and fans, more than 10,000 room nights will be utilized during Classic Week.

The competition

Qualifiers include top anglers from the Bassmaster Elite Series (38), Bassmaster Opens Series (7), B.A.S.S. Nation Championship (3), Carhartt Bassmaster College Series (1) and the Bassmaster Team Championship (1).

Anglers can weigh in up to five black bass per day, including any combination of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. Bass must meet or exceed these minimum lengths, set by the state of Tennessee:

  • Largemouth: 14 inches
  • Smallmouth: 18 inches
  • Spotted Bass: 12 inches

The heaviest cumulative weight over three days wins.

The waters

The tournament waters are expected to produce excellent fishing. One-day tournaments in early spring on the Knoxville section of the Tennessee River have produced winning weights as high as 27 1/2 pounds for a limit of five bass.

All live bass will be released alive back into the Tennessee River system.

In the 2018 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, 99.7 percent of bass weighed in were released back into Hartwell alive.

The full field of 50 anglers competes Friday and Saturday.

The field is cut to the Top 25 on Sunday, the final day.

Ten of the 109 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers hail from Tennessee:

  • Brandon Card of Knoxville
  • Brandon Coulter of Knoxville
  • Ott DeFoe of Blaine
  • Skylar Hamilton of Dandridge
  • Brandon Lester of Fayetteville
  • David Mullins of Mt. Carmel
  • John Murray of Spring City
  • Wesley Strader of Spring City
  • David Walker of Sevierville
  • Jacob Wheeler of Harrison

Additional Highlights

For the third year, the Bassmaster Classic will include the Get Hooked On Fishing interactive experience for youngsters.

Designed to introduce children to the outdoors and conservation, Get Hooked on Fishing drew more than 14,000 visitors in 2018.

In addition to the Classic competition, top teams of anglers from the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops and the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will compete in exhibition tournaments on nearby waters with weigh-ins taking place on the main Classic stage.

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