Derek Remitz, 24, of Hemphill, Texas; Sam Lashlee, 45, of Camden, Tenn.; and James Charlesworth, 33, of St. Cloud, Fla., earned berths for the 2007 Classic on Lay Lake in Birmingham, Ala., Feb. 23-25. It will be the first Classic appearance for all three anglers.
While 43 berths have been decided thus far — 37 via the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series, three through the Bassmaster Southern Tour, and three through the Northern Tour — seven berths still remain.
Six of those seven will qualify via the Federation Nation National Championship, Jan. 17-19 on Neely Henry Lake in Alabama. One angler will qualify from the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship presented by Advance Auto Parts, Jan. 25-27 on Lake Guntersville in Alabama. Fifty anglers will compete in the February 2007 Classic for the prestigious title of Classic champion and the $500,000 grand prize.
“I’m going to the classic!” Lashlee screamed when he was informed of the news by BASS officials. Later, he added, “This is a lifelong accomplishment and I couldn’t do it without so many people pulling for me.”
Northern Tour pros began the season on Kentucky Lake in June, then headed to the Mississippi River in July. The third event of the season took place on Lake Champlain and the fourth event on Lake Erie in early October. The final event of the season was completed Saturday on Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake.
Anglers accumulated points at each event. Each competitor’s lowest finish was dropped before the final points standings were calculated Saturday. The top five qualified to compete in the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series.
Remitz, who finished the season on top with 1,040 points, took over the points lead after the fourth event on Lake Erie. He scored top-15 finishes at three Tour events and finished no lower than 27th place in a ’06 Tour event.
“This is a dream come true,” Remitz said. “I was simply trying to get a decent finish here [at Smith Mountain Lake] to hold on to the points lead and I am so happy to have made it. I am looking forward to fishing the Classic.”
Lashlee scored three top-20 finishes on his way to second place in the Northern Tour points standings. One of those finishes was a third-place showing on Kentucky Lake in June.
Charlesworth scored two top-10 finishes out of five events, including a third-place showing at Lake Champlain in August. He made sure of his Classic berth with a strong showing on Saturday, a 21st, in the Tour’s final event.
“I’m just absolutely ecstatic about this,” Charlesworth said. “I quit my day job not long ago to pursue a career in professional fishing and this is certainly the biggest accomplishment of my career thus far.”
Elite Series Qualifiers The top five pros in the Northern Tour points standings qualified for the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series. Earning Elite status along with Remitz, Lashlee and Charlesworth were Scott Campbell of Springfield, Mo., and Jason Williamson of Aiken, S.C.
Northern Tour anglers who just missed the cut to qualify for the Elite Series — that is, those who finished in sixth through 25th place — can compete in the wildcard qualifier on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla., Nov. 16-18. They will be up against other pros who did not qualify for the Elite Series through the BASS circuit they fished in 2006. The prizes are the final 10 spots in the Elite Series of 2007.
Co-anglers: Another Set of Winners The conclusion of the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Northern Tour also produced another set of winners. The five co-anglers at the top of their division’s points standings earned entry fees into either the 2007 Bassmaster Southern or Central Open circuit. First in the co-angler points race was Jim McDevitt of Missouri with 1,081 points. He was followed by Joshua Fiedler of Maryland, 970 points; Valeri Timofeev of Pennsylvania, 940 points; Craig Gipe of Kentucky, 915 points; and Del Smith of Ohio, 898 points.
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/