The kick-off to Classic XXXIV will be the inaugural Junior Bassmaster World Championship on Lake Norman July 25-26, which BASS officials hope will capture the imagination of youngsters throughout America.
"The Junior Bassmaster World Championship is one of the best ideas BASS has had in years," said Dean Kessel, BASS Vice President and General Manager. "The Junior Bassmasters will actually get to fish with pro anglers, their heroes, and get the chance to compete for scholarships and the title of Junior Bassmaster World Champion.
"We are so happy that this tournament is now in conjunction with bass fishing's world championship, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. This means all of the world champions will be crowned in the span of two weeks. It's just phenomenal."
A lot of folks in this sport are excited about the new championship event.
"Our overall goal is to get youth involved in fishing, of course, and to help them understand the heritage of our sport," said Stacy Twiggs, BASS National Youth Manager. "Our other goal is to put in place an insurance policy for us. Our sport is aging. The anglers in our sport on the professional side are aging.
"So we're doing what we can to put some new wind in the sails."
The participants in the Junior Bassmaster World Championship's two age divisions (11-14 and 15-18) have survived a qualifying process to reach the Classic, which is set for Lake Wylie July 30-Aug. 1.
The Junior Bassmaster World Championship begins with a Celebrity Pro-Am Tournament on July 25th in which the young anglers will be paired with a pro in town to compete in the 34th Classic. Although this is a fun contest, it will also serve as a practice day for the Junior Bassmasters.
The Junior Bassmaster World Championship will be held the following day. The anglers will be allowed to weigh in five bass in the one-day tournament that will award $25,000 in scholarship money.
MIKE IACONELLI, ESQUIRE. The reigning CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion made the pages of Esquire magazine in its June issue. Under a story titled "The Skills of Summer," Iaconelli provides fishing information under the subheading "How To Land the Big One."
His advice centers on fishing during low-light hours, taking advantage of prefrontal feeding sprees and exploiting spawning season.
FLIPPPING WITH OZZIE. Ask Denny Brauer to name his weirdest fishing experience and he has a quick answer: the time he tried to show burnt-out rocker Ozzie Osborne how to pitch while on a street outside of the Late Night With David Letterman set.
"Ozzie is a dude," the former Classic winner said. "I've never seen a person that had so much metal in his body in my life. He had stuff stuck everywhere and hanging out everywhere. He ruined my best reel. Bounced a jig off of a limo. The guy's just not right."
GOODWILL PROJECT. The wives of the Bassmaster pros have instituted a novel project that is designed to have an immediate impact on youngsters at various tournament sites.
"The wives and families have started a charity for this year," explained Judy Martin, Roland's wife. "At registration, all of the fishermen and observers are donating either money or toys. And then the wives go shopping.
"At the first event (at the Bassmaster Elite 50 in Prattville, Ala.), without any notice we raised over $400 in cash. Also, Triton Boats is going to donate some bicycles. And we expect the other sponsors will also want to get involved. We're going to do this for the last Elite 50 and the Opens in the fall. Then in January, we're going to pick a different charity for the Tour so that we can find out what the needs are in the individual communities where we have a tournament."
DID YOU KNOW? Mark Davis is attempting to win three consecutive tournaments this week at the season-ending Bassmaster Elite 50 event in Paducah, Ky. Only Roland Martin (1980-81) has ever accomplished that lofty feat.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Classic champ Michael Iaconelli and Chad Brauer of Missouri turn 32 on June 17 and 19, respectively. Western pro Ish Monroe will be 30 on June 20. Five days later veteran Pennsylvania pro Randall Romig becomes 54. Arkansas angler Ron Shuffield celebrates his 48 birthday on June 27, while California's Skeet Reese will blow out 35 candles on June 30.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO. Three-time Classic qualifier Curt Lytle of Virginia would likely still be working as a mechanical engineer.
THEY SAID IT. "I never let myself focus on Angler of the Year until the last tournament of the season. I thought I'd be disappointed or letting myself down if I started thinking about Angler of the Year. Then if one little thing goes wrong, you start spinning out of control. So I never let my mind go to that place." Reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle.