When asked if he had ever competed on the Sabine River, site of the March 14-17 Bassmaster Elite Series season opener, Elite Series pro Dennis Tietje chuckled.“Only for about 30 years,” he replied.He’s in the minority because the Elite Series has never had an event on the Sabine. Most of the 100 competitors don’t know what to expect in this week’s Sabine River Challenge presented by STARK Cultural Venues out of Orange, Texas.That means Tietje has been getting a lot of phone calls from his fellow Elite Series pros angling for his secrets.“Sure, they call — but I don’t tell them anything,” he said, the smile still in his voice.Tietje would be wise not to surrender any advantage. An Elite Series first prize is $100,000, an instant qualification for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and the early lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year season-long points race.Tietje already seems to have Lady Luck working for him. He just returned to the Elite Series after a medical leave in 2012 for spinal surgery, and where is the first event of the season? Where he cut his competitive teeth.“I was totally shocked when I first heard the Elite Series was coming here. I never dreamed I would compete at the Elite level where I learned to fish,” Tietje said.He lives in Roanoke, La., about 60 miles east of Orange. That’s given him many opportunities over the years to enter a number of small, local tournaments on the Sabine, which forms the southeasterly Texas-Louisiana border. No big tournaments, he’s quick to point out. To his knowledge, the Elite event is the largest organized tournament to come to Orange.That fact has a lot to do with why Todd Faircloth has never competed on the Sabine River, even though he lives just 90 miles away in Jasper, Texas. He’s usually at work on the water far from home.Ditto for Alabama’s Keith Poche, although some might assume he knows the Sabine because he is a native of central Louisiana. Growing up, he spent a lot of time on small waters near where he lived in Natchitoches, but he never fished the Sabine, he said.To help close up the holes in their knowledge of the Sabine, Faircloth and Poche scouted the river system before the Feb. 11, 2013, cutoff. (After that date, all Elite competitors were barred from tournament waters until the official March 11-13 practice period.)On his scouting trip, Poche said he was reminded of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin fishery.“It’s a lot like Atchafalaya, but I think it’s going to fish differently,” said Poche, who now lives in Alabama. “The largemouth size limit for the Sabine event is 14 inches, and that’s going to make it tough on a lot of guys to get a limit. And I don’t think we’re going to be catching a lot of 4s and 5s.”He, Faircloth and Tietje described an area south of Orange, off the main Sabine River, where huge spreads of backwaters, bayous and feeder rivers and creeks in both Texas and Louisiana hold black bass. The Neches, Calcasieu and other rivers are fertile fishing grounds. The Intracoastal Waterway connects some of the waters. North of Orange, anglers will find more of a traditional river, but some of the same types of backwaters.The size of the tournament waters means an angler’s morning choice about where to find fish will likely be the only choice of the day.
Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., now owns what only 33 others can claim: a Bassmaster Classic title.On Sunday, Pace won the 43rd world championship of bass fishing, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. His prize for a three-day catch of 54 pounds, 12 ounces, was $500,000 and the most coveted trophy of the sport.His victory on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees was wire-to-wire, although he shared the first-day lead with 2003 Classic champ Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J. On the second day, Pace stepped over the entire 53-angler field, surpassing his nearest challenger — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho — by 7 pounds.Sunday Pace took the win with a margin of 3 pounds, 4 ounces over Palaniuk, who had to settle for second when his hard charge proved to be unsuccessful.“This is a gift that I will always cherish,” said Pace, 32, claiming his first Classic trophy in his fifth Classic appearance. “This is the ultimate high of a career, a life-changing moment.”
Edwin Evers idles up to the dock to pick up his cameraman
The annual Bassmaster Classic Media Day took place on Thursday afternoon in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the 53 Classic competitors faced the media for the last time before kicking off the Classic on a chilly Grand Lake on Friday morning.After tolerable conditions during the three unofficial practice days on Grand Lake last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Wednesday’s official Classic practice day was downright nasty. Temperatures hovered in the low 30s as a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow fell for the majority of the day and into the evening.Water temperatures throughout Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, a 46,500 acre fishery located in Northeast Oklahoma, dropped from the upper 40s to the lower to mid 40s, and the air temperature at launch on Friday morning in Grove, Oklahoma is predicted to be 23 degrees with a wind chill factor of 13 degrees.For the second consecutive year, The BASS ZONE decided to take a unique approach to covering Media Day. Rather than asking stock questions and getting predictable answers, The BZ crew hit the Classic anglers with some off-the-wall questions with the hopes of gaining a little bit of extra insight.Here are the best responses to the questions that The BASS ZONE asked some of the contenders during Media Day: - See more at: http://basszone.com/featured-stories/m.blog/58/the-classic-preview-bz-st...
At the Bassmaster Classic media day session today, B.A.S.S. announced it has selected venues for four of its championship events to be held later this year.> Bassmaster College Series National Championship: Aug. 1-3 at Chatuge Reservoir (Young Harris, Ga.)> Toyota Elite Series All-Star Week: Sept. 27-29 at Muskegon Lake (Muskegon, Mich.)> B.A.S.S. Nation (formerly Federation Nation) Championship: Oct. 24-26 at Lake Dardanelle (Russellville, Ark.)> Bassmaster Wild Card (last chance to qualify for 2014 Classic): Dec. 5-7 at Lake Okeechobee“These are four great fisheries that will test the skills of the best anglers from each of our bass fishing tournament trails,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.The format for Toyota All-Star Week will change slightly from previous years as the field expands from 12 to 14 anglers who will vie for a piece of a $100,000 payout at Muskegon Lake.The 2013 Bassmaster Classic champion and Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year will join the Top 8 anglers in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points and the Top 4 vote getters in an online fan vote in the third annual All-Star competition. All 14 anglers will compete on the first 2 days before the field is narrowed down to the Top 4 based on cumulative weight. The winner will earn $50,000 and all 13 other competitors will take home paychecks.“All-Star Week has been a great success,” Akin added, “and the refinements we’re making this year should make it even better. By adding the Classic champion and Rookie of the Year to the mix, we’re not just enhancing the competition, but also bringing out the anglers the fans most want to see. It’s going to be a tremendous event.”
What do you remember most about the 2012 Bassmaster Classic? Was it the jump of victory by Chris Lane and his brother Bobby on the Classic stage? Was it the fish that slapped Aaron Martens in the face? Was it the down-to-the-wire near-win by Greg Vinson?Whatever it was, our fans got to see it, just by tuning in to Bassmaster.com. And fans will get to experience all the action again this year for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, Feb. 22-24. All of our coverage is 100% free to the public.Here’s how to keep up with all the action throughout the tournament.Bassmaster.comThe coverage of the “main event,” the weigh-in, is online every day — live, streaming video of the weigh-in. You’ll know who wins at the exact same time the winner finds out! You can’t beat that unless you’re sitting in the seats at the BOK Arena.But plenty of action happens every day before weigh-in. Here are other offerings we’ll have each day:
If long-range forecasts and historical weather data are accurate, this year’s Classic will be contested in cold weather on cold water. That would suggest that Grand Lake bass are more likely to be closer to their winter haunts than prespawn locations.Because winter-pattern bass and prespawn bass require different techniques to find and catch, Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players would be wise to learn which anglers in the Classic field have finished high previously on fisheries similar to Grand in similar weather and water conditions.Judging from most reports, the favorites in this year’s Classic are Edwin Evers, Tommy Biffle, Jason Christie and Mike McClelland. The first three are Oklahomans. McClelland lives about an hour away, in Bella Vista, Ark. Each has enjoyed success on Grand, but the Classic, more than any other tournament, is cruel to locals. As Bassmaster’s Ken Duke reported here last month, only one angler living in the same state as the Classic waters has ever won – Boyd Duckett in 2007. Call it the Classic Curse.But the Classic Curse concerns winning, not placing high. And Fantasy Fishing players don’t have to pick the winner to succeed (although it does help). Rather, our challenge is to pick the five highest-scoring anglers from as many handicapped buckets. So don’t concern yourself with the Classic Curse when making your roster picks.Focus instead on the field’s history on fisheries similar to Grand Lake O' the Cherokees in similar weather and water conditions.Grand Lake is a rocky upland reservoir with little to no grass. So before making my picks, I reviewed angler histories in tournaments contested in cold, late February/early March weather on fisheries with little grass. Most anglers in the top three buckets competed in most or all of the following four tournaments, which were held in on fisheries that contain little grass in weather similar to conditions forecast for the Tulsa area at the end of this February. For reference, the average low temp in Tulsa in late February is 32 degrees; the average high is 53; the average mean temp is 42.5 degrees.
Bell Outfitters is pleased to announce Bassmaster Elite Series and Major League Fishing angler Edwin Evers' endorsement of their H20 Gear Pro. Evers is a 12-time Bassmaster Classic Qualifier and a seven time B.A.S.S. winner with nearly $2 million dollars in career earnings. Evers is an early favorite for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic in his home state of Oklahoma.The H2O Gear Pro is a lightweight device that attaches to your gear and, upon submersion in water, deploys a highly visible float to the surface of the water so you can identify your gear's location for retrieval. The H2O Gear Pro fits numerous applications from hunting equipment, personal belongings, offshore equipment and military applications.If you stop by Edwin Evers booth #1018 at the Bassmaster Classic expo in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Friday, February 22nd through Sunday, February 24th, Bell Outfitters will have H2O Gear Pro on hand.
By now anybody who follows the Bassmaster Elite Series knows Mark Zona has the inside skinny on the movers and shakers of the pro bass world. Fortunately, he took a little time to share a little Bassmaster Classic insight and throw down his predictions for the Top 5 anglers at the big event happening at Oklahoma's Grand Lake February 22-24.When it comes to fishing tournaments, Zona says the Bassmaster Classic is like no other. "The Classic is a hybrid," said Zona. "It's a completely different animal than the regular Elite Series events. From a programming standpoint, I believe it is the hardest two weeks of the year."First off, there are several hours of footage that are produced. It is also more of a challenge for me because I am much more detached from the anglers at the Classic. During the Elite events I know every turning point of the event. At the Classic, well, I really only get access to the Top 3 and honestly I try to get them away from other media so I can get the info I need for the show."Classic contenders are often off their game."The Classic is also a totally different event for the anglers," said Zona. "It is the one event where they should just let it all hang out and go for the win, but so many don't. I'm not sure if it's the off water stuff or other pressure, but a lot of them are in spin-out mode. It is easier to spin out mentally at this event."By 11:00 A.M. on the first day, I bet 60 percent of the anglers are done and scrambling, just trying to weigh a fish and save face. After Day 1, only about 25 percent of the anglers are still trying to win."There are two different mindsets for most anglers fishing the Classic according to Zona."There are the anglers who say 'I'm in the Classic' and there are anglers who say 'I'm here to win the Classic'," said Zona. "Those are two totally different mindsets. You have the ballers who have that winning attitude like other pro athletes, like Peyton Manning or Kaepernick from the 49ers. Even though he lost you could see that fire in him. There are some established guys like that and we are seeing some young pros with that ice in their veins, too."Zona admits that predicting the Classic winner isn't a science.