Anglers will fish on the 12,000-acre Lay Lake, site of both the 1996 and 2002 Bassmaster Classics. The 48-mile-long fishery, which was impounded in 1914, gave up a winning three-day tournament weight of 45 pounds, 13 ounces (Jay Yelas) in the 2002 Classic and 31 pounds, 14 ounces (George Cochran) in 1996. Anglers will weigh in at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center.
“2007 is shaping up to be an incredible year as Alabama continues its tradition of leadership in the outdoors,” said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. “We’re excited to partner with ESPN and BASS to host the biggest tournament in bass fishing and all of the events leading up to it.”
Fans who can’t make it to Birmingham to catch bass fishing’s most major event will be able to see it on ESPN2. The network is devoting nearly 12 hours of programming to the Bassmaster Classic, including live, morning weekend shows and same-day coverage of the entire tournament.
“There is no doubt. Lay Lake is one of the premier bass fisheries in the country and we are excited to put the world’s top anglers on it to compete for the biggest title in bass fishing,” said Don Rucks, vice president and general manager of BASS.
Rucks said Birmingham is a perfect location to host the next Classic. BASS has more than 19,000 members in Alabama. There are nearly 210,000 members within in a 500-mile radius of Birmingham, which includes the fervent support of the growing Alabama BASS Federation Nation.
“Before moving to its new home in Central Florida, BASS was founded and headquartered in Alabama. Our roots are in this state and we are thrilled to bring the Classic to our old stomping grounds,” said Rucks.
The Bassmaster Classic’s field of 50 anglers will compete for a total prize purse of nearly $1.2 million, including a top prize of $500,000. Anglers have the opportunity to practice on Feb. 13-15, before the waters go off limits. There is a final practice day scheduled for Feb. 21. While all anglers will fish on Days 1 and 2, only the top 25 will fish on the final day.
“The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau is very pleased to have a role in bringing the 2007 Bassmaster Classic back to Birmingham,” said bureau president James H. Smither. “The selection of Birmingham as host city comes in tandem with the announcement of the new Birmingham Bowl, and these two diverse sporting events are sure to draw thousands of visitors. We can’t wait to welcome the world’s top anglers and all the fans that follow them.”
The Bassmaster Classic builds on ESPN's strong commitment to Birmingham, which also includes two recently announced prominent college events. The Birmingham Bowl, a newly created college football bowl game at Legion Field on Dec. 23, will be televised by ESPN2 at 12 p.m. ET. The annual game will match a team from Conference USA against a bowl-eligible team from the BIG EAST Conference. There’s also the Ford MEAC/SWAC Challenge, an ESPN Regional Television owned-and-operated annual college football game televised on ESPN2 on Saturday, Sept. 2 from Legion Field.
BASS is bringing back a fan-favorite of Classic week, the highly popular Classic ESPN Outdoors Expo. It will be open Friday through Sunday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center, site of the weigh-in.
An exciting new element to Classic week will be the debut of the first BASS women’s championship. The top 12 anglers and co-anglers to emerge from the Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats season will fish a four-day championship on nearby Lake Mitchell on Feb. 22-25.
Events leading up to the Bassmaster Classic include the Junior Bassmaster World Championship (Feb. 18, Logan Martin Lake); the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series presented by Advance Auto Parts Championship (Jan. 25-27, Lake Guntersville); and Federation Nation National Championship (Jan. 17-19, Neely Henry Lake).
Anyone interested in volunteering at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic should call BASS at 1-877-BASS-USA.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®. BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, call 1-877-BASS-USA or visit www.bassmaster.com/classic