CELEBRATION, Fla. – The full field is now set for professional bass fishing’s most prestigious event, the 37th Bassmaster Classic, scheduled for Feb. 23-25 on Lay Lake near Birmingham, Ala.

Fifty of the world’s top bass anglers have earned their way into the Bassmaster Classic and will fish for a $500,000 first prize, a piece of the $1.2 million total payout. Most of the anglers qualified for the event based on their stellar performance in the Bassmaster Elite Series’ 2006 season.

Seven bass anglers earned Classic spots this month. Six anglers qualified through the BASS Federation Nation National Championship tournament, Jan. 17-19, in Gadsden, Ala on Lake Neely Henry. On Saturday, Russell Colwell of Baltimore, Md., won the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship in Guntersville, Ala., clinching the final spot. (An alphabetical list of qualifiers is below.)

“This group of anglers will write another page in BASS’ prestigious history,” said Trip Weldon, BASS tournament director. “Birmingham provides a fantastic venue for the best anglers in the world.”

Under BASS rules, Lay Lake is off limits to Bassmaster Classic participants until the three-day pre-fish period, Feb. 13-15. After that, anglers will again have to stay away from the fishery until the official practice day, Feb. 21. Competition begins Feb 23. Take-off each morning is 7 a.m. from Paradise Point Marina near Columbiana, Ala.

The daily Bassmaster Classic festivities, featuring the weigh-in of the 50 competitors, will begin at 3:00 p.m. Feb. 23-25 at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center.

The 2007 Bassmaster Classic will be hosted by the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. The tournament will receive 11 1/2 hours of television coverage on ESPN2.

Sponsors of the event include Toyota Tundra, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Purolator, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics and MotorGuide.

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 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 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com/classic