Bassmaster Classic Notebook: Attendance Records Shattered at 39th Bassmaster Classic’s Outdoors Expo; Weigh-in Venue Filled to Capacity

Category: press release

 Feb 22nd, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Feb 22nd, 2009 at 12:00 AM

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. – The Bassmaster Classic attendance record was shattered Sunday, Feb. 22 as fishing fans came out in throngs to the assorted Bassmaster Classic festivities. The 2009 total attendance was 137,700 patrons besting the previous record of 82,600 established at the 2003 Classic in New Orleans, La.

With a turnstile tally of 60,123 on Saturday, Feb. 21, the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Shreveport Convention Center topped the Expo’s existing total attendance record of 52,621.

Sunday, the Expo pulled in the crowds again: 31,254 people turned up at the Expo, which closed early so fans could get to the final weigh-in of the Classic. Friday’s Expo drew 16,233 people through the turnstiles for a total Expo attendance record of 107,600.

The Expo featured the latest in fishing tackle, new boat models and engines, outdoor gear of every description, scores of interactive activities, and appearances by top professional anglers.

At Bossier City’s CenturyTel Center, the Classic’s weigh-ins on Feb. 21 and 22 drew a capacity crowd of 9,300 each day. Attendance at the Friday weigh-in was 6,000.

The fans jammed the arena to watch the Classic contenders bring their bags of Red River bass to the scales in their bid to claim the coveted winner’s trophy and $500,000 first-place prize.

And, despite frigid early morning temperatures, the 7:15 a.m. daily launch festivities at Red River South Marina in Bossier City also pulled in the people. Attendance was pegged at 1,500 on Friday, 2,000 on Saturday, and 2,000 on Sunday.

In 2011, the Expo will return to Louisiana in conjunction with the 41st Classic competition on the Louisiana Delta fishery out of New Orleans.

ARKANSAS MAN CASTS FOR $100,000, WINS $5,000: Mark Barr of Magnolia, Ark., was selected as the sole contestant in the $100,000 Berkley Cast for Cash contest Sunday during the Bassmaster Classic weigh-in finale at the CenturyTel Center – but just not quite lucky enough to win the big prize.

He had one chance – actually, one cast – to win in the test of skill offered by Berkley, an official Classic sponsor that has brought the exciting contest to the Classic several times. This year, the Berkley successful-caster’s prize was offered at $100,000.

Barr, a construction worker who said the Classic was the first major sporting event he’d ever attended, won his shot at the pot just because he happened to be sitting in the arena seat that matched a seat number randomly selected by contest officials.

His challenge was to cast a practice plug a distance of 60 feet into the gaping 12-inch mouth of a 20-foot-tall inflatable bass set up on the floor of the CenturyTel Center in front of Sunday’s capacity crowd of 9,300.

Barr was given his pick of rod-and-reel combos to perform the cast, and then was coached by 1979 Classic champion Hank Parker in a practice period in a parking lot before making his one cast.

Berkley made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. Up on stage, Berkley presented Barr with a “consolation” check for $5,000 and a big Berkley bag packed with tackle, plus all three combos available to him to make the cast: a Shakespeare spin cast combo, a Pflueger spinning rig, and an Abu-Garcia casting outfit.

BIG BLUE: The Yamaha booth at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Shreveport Convention Center was huge. The booth had to be big to fit in the semi truck rig that acts as part transport vehicle and half billboard.

The big blue rig is 80 feet long, from cab nose to trailer’s end, a definite show-stopper.

“I’ve had more people stop at this show to ask about the truck – little kids, adults who want to sit in the cab. That’s very interesting because we’ve never received that many requests like that before,” said Yamaha’s Cindy Thompson. “We use it to haul the contents of our booth to any event we do – tournaments, trade shows, boat shows – but it’s also a moving billboard.”

Yamaha rewarded the first 150 to stop by the booth after a public announcement that the great hat giveaway would be held. Thompson said about 5,000 hats were passed out over the course of the three-day Classic, and that most who got one lined up to get autographs from the many Yamaha pros appearing at the booth.

Dale Barnes, divisional manager of marketing for Yamaha, said the company had a great turnout for its Saturday evening promotion at local Reeves Marina in Bossier City, just across the street from the Classic weigh-in venue, CenturyTel Center.

“It all happened after the weigh-in and hundreds of people turned out,” Barnes said.

COLLEGE CASTERS: Only bragging rights were on the line, but that didn’t detract from the competition among dozens of college fishing teams at the Mercury booth at the Feb. 20-22 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The water on which the teams competed was a long, shallow casting pool at Mercury’s booth. It was set up with targets that awarded points according to difficulty of cast. The under-the-dock targets were bells that rang if the caster was skilled enough to hit it square-on.

The three-day cast-off ended Sunday afternoon with Oklahoma State University emerging as the winner.

EAT. SLEEP. FISH.: That’s the slogan of Skeeter Performance Fishing Boats, an official Bassmaster Classic sponsor. Judging by the number of avid fishing fans on Sunday, lots of people probably use the slogan as a mantra.

The action at the Skeeter booth Sunday was just one proof that the Expo was an autograph-seeker’s heaven. Men, women and kids were lined up at noontime for the signatures of Skeeter pros and Classic contenders Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, and Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala.

One young man had the back of his shirt signed by Faircloth. Grinning, he turned to his friend and said, “I’m never washing this shirt again.”

KVD RIDE: Randy Rader of Morgan City, La., now owns the bass boat Kevin VanDam used in the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series season to win the 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

“It’s the boat I competed with all year long and basically it looks just like the new boat I’ve got now,” said VanDam, a two-time Bassmaster Classic champion.

Rader won the boat by having his entry form drawn Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Tracker booth at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Shreveport Convention Center.

The giveaway attracted thousands of entries, according to Jackie Camargo, Tracker’s pro team coordinator.

“We had so many raffle tickets, the entire boat was full,” said Camargo.

NEW ‘DO: Members of BASS Insider, the premium pages of http://www.Bassmaster.com, enjoyed the exclusive benefit of access to live, streaming video of the daily post-weigh-in media conferences of the 39th Bassmaster Classic. Contenders who ended the day in one of the top five positions on the leaderboard participated.

Insiders were also offered the opportunity to e-mail questions that would be selected to be asked to the Classic competitors during the media conferences.

Most of the questions submitted touched on anglers’ lures, patterns, strategy or other competition-related topic. One query, however, was directed to Skeet Reese. Why, the Insider wanted to know, did Skeet decide to cut his hair so short for the Classic?

“I always try to debut something different at the Classic,” quipped the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Auburn, Calif., who had traded his spiky hair for a darker-colored buzz-cut. “It’s just a new look. I get bored with the same old hair.”

The new hair style must have been the lucky. Reese won the 39th Bassmaster Classic with 54 pounds, 13 ounces.

ANGEL ANGLERS: Among the activities involving BASS competitors during the Classic, was the group Angel Anglers. They visited with veterans from multiple wars at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport on Feb. 19.

For about two hours, the anglers exchanged stories, laughter and smiles with the veterans.

In on the visit were six Bassmaster Elite Series pros: Britt Myers of Lake Wylie, S.C.; Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Mo.; Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C.; and Brent “Brody” Broderick of Oregonia, Ohio; Brian Clark of Haltom City, Texas; and J Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga.

On the return trip to their hotel, ESPNOutdoors.com writer Don Barone asked the anglers what it meant to them to be one of the Angel Anglers.

“You know, I think we get more out of it than those we visit,” said Denny Brauer, who had happily showed off his Bassmaster Classic Champion ring when the veterans took notice of it.

Angel Anglers, committed to making a positive impact on the lives of others, was created in 2004 by Bassmaster Elite Series pro Gerald Swindle. The group often combines visits to hospitals with stops at BASS-event venues, and sometimes takes kids from local children’s organizations fishing.

MEET “KEYON” HILL: Kenyon Hill of Norman, Okla., turned up in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., for his fourth Classic in a just-wrapped Triton boat rig. The pastel Picasso Lure design was unmarked, shiny and eye-catching. His name was on the port and starboard gunnels in flowing script.

One small issue: His first name was missing its “n.”

The Bassmaster Elite Series pro just shrugged and chuckled when asked about it.

“I had just picked it up, and didn’t even notice the mistake until after I got here and someone pointed it out to me,” he said. “Keyon I am.”

JUST SIGN IT. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jason Quinn of York, S.C., could hardly keep up with the autograph requests at the Evan Williams Bourbon booth at the Classic Expo.

Just how many items did he sign over the Expo’s three days?

“I have absolutely not a clue, but it was more than I’ve ever signed at any Classic,” Quinn said. “They ask for all kind of autographs on all kinds of stuff – T-shirts, hats, bellies, you name it.”

Evan Williams gave fans many of the T-shirts and hats he signed. They had to play Plinko or a bean-bag-toss game to get the merchandise. Evan Williams passed out more than 400 shirts alone, according to Hannah Snedeker, assistant brand manager.

She said other prizes offered included lures, hats, multitools and screwdrivers with the company’s logo.

Evan Williams also offered tastes of its products. Just a sip, of course.

INSIDER INSIGHTS: Ken Duke, editor of BASS Insider, the premium pages at http://www.Bassmaster.com, describes himself as “The Bass Geek.” He’s the man for all the statistics anyone ever wants to know about Bassmaster competitions.

His Saturday blog, for example, broke down the Day 2 results of the Classic in true Geek style:

“The fish on the Red River seem to be getting bigger. Yesterday, we reported that the average bass weighed 2.62 pounds. The average fish on Day 2 was even better, weighing in at 2.94 pounds.

“Combining both days, the average weight is 2.78 and good for second best all-time behind only the 1980 Classic on the St. Lawrence River out of New York. That year the average fish weighed 2.93 pounds. A big Day 3 on the Red River on Sunday may give us a new record.

“Ironically, the same number of bass were weighed in on Saturday as were weighed in on Friday – 223.

“And since weights were up and the number of fish caught stayed the same, it means that the average weight brought in by an angler was up on Day 2. On the first day, it was 11.45 pounds – second best all-time. On Day 2 it was 12.85 pounds per angler fishing day. The two-day average is 12.15 pounds and the best ever.

“The record for the heaviest total weight caught by the Classic field currently stands at 1,510-4. If the 25 anglers fishing on Sunday can catch 270-11 (an average of 10.8275 each), there will be a new record in that category.

Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.

About BASS

For 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.


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