The storied tournament is the world championship of professional bass fishing, boasting a 33-year tradition of fierce competition among anglers for whom a Classic championship marks the pinnacle of a career.
This year's 61-angler field will vie for the $200,000 champion's purse, the biggest piece of the overall $700,000 payout. The anglers and the route by which they qualified for the Classic are listed below:
2003 Busch BASS Angler of the Year Jay Yelas, Tyler, Texas
From the CITGO Bassmaster Tour Alton Jones, Waco, Texas Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark. Roger Boler, Slidell, La. John Murray, Phoenix, Ariz. Shaw Grigsby Jr., Gainesville, Fla. Mike Wurm, Hot Springs, Ark. Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif. Bud Pruitt, Spring, Texas Mark Kile, Payson, Ariz. Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. Elton Luce Jr., Nederland, Texas Brent Chapman, Shawnee, Kansas Dustin Wilks, Raleigh, N.C. Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla. Ishama Monroe, Phoenix, Ariz. Mike Reynolds, Modesto, Calif. Tom Mann Jr., Buford, Ga. Jeff Reynolds, Platter, Okla. Harold Allen, Shelbyville, Texas Jay Kendrick, Kingston, Ga. Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas Peter E. Thliveros, Jacksonville, Fla. Ron Shuffield, Bismarch, N.D. Kenyon Hill, Norman, Okla. Randy Howell, Trussville, Ala. Jim Bitter, Fruitland Park, Fla. Tim Horton, Muscle Shoals, Ala. Curt Lytle, Suffolk, Va. Kevin Wirth, Crestwood, Ky. Mark Menendez, Paducah, Ky. Roland Martin, Clewiston, Fla. Jack L. Wade, Knoxville, Tenn. Gerald Swindle, Hayden, Ala. Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas Tommy Stiles, McMinnville, Tenn. Matt Reed, Madisonville, Texas
From the CITGO Bassmaster Open - Northern Division: Koby Kreiger, Osceola, Ind. Lee Bailey, Amston, Conn. Michael Iaconelli, Woodbury Heights, N.J. Randall Romig, Barto, Pa. David LeFebre, Erie, Pa. From the CITGO Bassmaster Open - Central Division: Greg Hackney, Oak Ridge, La. Edwin Evers, Mannsville, Okla. Mike Gough, Gainesville, Fla. Homer Humphreys, Minden, La. Chad Morganthaler, Carbondale, Ill.
From the CITGO Bassmaster Open - Southern Division: Jason Quinn, Lake Wylie, S.C. Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn. Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C. Michael Johnson, Kearny, Ariz. Tom Hamlin, Macon, Ga.
From the CITGO BASS Federation Jerry Shawver II, Jacksonville, Fla. (Southern Division) Joel St. Germain, Cumberland, R.I. (Eastern Division) Cole Garrett, Calvin, La. (Central Division) Karl Guegold, Westerville, Ohio (Northern Division) Tom Schachten, Driggs, Idaho (Western Division)
2002 Busch BASS Angler of the Year Davy Hite, Prosperity, S.C.
AWARDS In addition to determining the final field for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, last week's final stop on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour also determined the winners of two new awards presented by CITGO.
The CITGO Horizon Award recognizes the angler who improves the most from season to season. This year's winner, Takahiro Omori, won $25,000 for finishing 40th in the 2003 Tour standings, a 98-position improvement over his final standing in 2002.
The CITGO Rookie of the Year Award pays $10,000 for the Tour's top-performing rookie. Mark Kile of Payson, Ariz., walked away with the award after finishing 12th in the season point standings.
Although neither award comes with an automatic berth to the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, a majority of anglers from the top 10 of both fields will be competing in bass fishing's world championship.
2003 CITGO Horizon Award Standings (FINAL) Angler State Positions improved 1. *Omori, Takahiro Texas 98 2. *Boler, Roger La. 97 3. *Bitter, Jim Fla. 95 4. Loper, Tim Miss. 92 5. *Wade, Jack Tenn. 88 5. *Lytle, Curt Va. 88 7. Tyler, Mark Calif. 86 8. *Grigsby, Shaw Fla. 84 9. *Stiles, Tommy Tenn. 77 10. *Monroe, Ishama Ariz. 71
2003 CITGO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS (FINAL) Angler State Final Points 1. *Mark Kile AZ 1369 2. *Mike Reynolds CA 1304 3. *Jeff Reynolds OK 1296 4. *Jay Kendrick TN 1286 5. *Chad MorgenthalerIL 1208 6. *Matt Reed TX 1186 7. Pete Ponds MS 1161 8. Terry Scroggins FL 1156 9. Lance Vick TX 1137 10. Dennis Kolender CA 801 *designates Classic competitor