Ultimate Bass

Lay Lake tapped for 2010 Classic

Boyd Duckett Elite Series AnglerBASS announced today that the 2010 Bassmaster Classic will return in February to Lay Lake in Shelby County, Ala., site of three previous…

Boyd Duckett previous Classic ChampionBASS announced today that the 2010 Bassmaster Classic will return in February to Lay Lake in Shelby County, Ala., site of three previous Classic competitions — 1996, 2002 and 2007.

Fifty-one Classic qualifiers will hit the Coosa River impoundment Feb. 19-21 for the 2010 Classic title. As previously announced, the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in downtown Birmingham, Ala., will be the site of the daily weigh-ins and accompanying 2010 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo. This weekend BASS firmed up the location for the morning festivities at Beeswax Creek Boat Ramp, 537 Beeswax Park Road, near the town of Columbiana, Ala.

“Shelby County is excited about the opportunity to showcase our natural resources and attract an international audience as we host our fourth Bassmaster Classic,” said Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock. “Lay Lake continues to be a destination for anglers and water recreation enthusiasts, and Shelby County will continue to promote tourism through these types of events in our local, regional and state economy.”

Alabama is no stranger to the biggest event in the sport. The state has hosted 10 Classic events, including three contested on Lay Lake. The most recent, in 2007, is famous for being the first to be won by a home-state pro: Bassmaster Elite Series pro Boyd Duckett of Demopolis. He laid to rest the myth of “home-state jinx” when he won with 48 pounds, 10 ounces of Lay Lake bass.

Duckett bested fellow Elite pro Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., by just 6 ounces.

Reese, who landed his first Classic title less than a month ago at the Red River in Louisiana, said another Classic on Lay Lake could be his chance to extract about 6 ounces’ worth of revenge.

“Another Classic on Lay Lake is great news. I will get the opportunity to go back to Lay Lake and try to win. Finishing second to Boyd in 2007 was a little tough to swallow,” he said half-jokingly.

“I feel a Classic on Lay also will be an opportunity for me to repeat as champion, and I’m excited about going back there.”

With the defending champion’s automatic qualification for 2010, right now Reese is the only angler with a secured berth — the other 50 will qualify through various BASS tournament circuits.

“Birmingham is excited to host the 40th Bassmaster Classic and we anticipate another fantastic event,” said Mike Gunn, vice president, Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This is our seventh time hosting this prestigious, major sporting event.”

ELITE QUEST: So well-known in redfish tournament circles, even Greg Watts refers to himself as “the redfish guy.” Now he’s working on reinventing himself as a bass angler of the highest order, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro.

From Eagle Lake, Fla., the professional saltwater angler is competing this season in the Bassmaster Central Opens as a steppingstone to the Elite Series.

“I am the redfish guy,” Watts said. “But for the past several years, I’ve really wanted to get back into the bass side of competition. The whole idea behind it is to try to qualify for the Elite Series.”

Watts, 49, said he fished bass tournaments on and off in the 1980s and 1990s, but by 2000 he was heavily into various saltwater circuits. He earned his redfish reputation alongside his identical twin, Bryan Watts of Lithia, Fla. As pro redfish tournament trails are two-man team events, they were made to order for the fishing twins from Florida.

In 2003, the inaugural year of what is now the Redfish Cup tour, the Watts brothers took the National Championship and Team of the Year honors — a bit like winning the Bassmaster Classic and Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in one fell swoop.

Now a full-time pro, Watts added professional kingfish tournaments and bass competitions to his 2009 tournament schedule, mainly to deliver more value to his stable of sponsors. In January, he won a major kingfish event with teammates Andre Moore and Kim Bain-Moore, both BASS competitors themselves. Bain-Moore, of course, is the pro who in February was the first woman to compete in a Bassmaster Classic.

To get an Elite invitation via the three-event Central Open circuit, Watts will need to finish in the top seven in the standings. In the season’s first event, he ended up 142nd in a field of 197 pros at the March 5-7 Central Open on Toledo Bend Reservoir out of Many, La.

“Not a great showing on Toledo Bend,” he said. “It was the first time I’d ever been there. I had great pre-fishing days, had a great pattern going, but the wind changed on me. I did not adjust as quickly as I should have, so that was a learning curve for me.”

He is not discouraged.

“I’m already excited about the next Open, and that’s not until August,” he said, referring to the time he’ll have to practice for the Sept 3-5 Open on Sam Rayburn Reservoir out of Jasper, Texas. “Getting back to the bass side is a total thrill for me.”

‘TWO-LANE ROAD TO THE KEYS.’ More evidence of the crossover between saltwater and bass fishing: Bassmaster Elite Series pros Bobby and Chris Lane are featured in the Spring 2009 debut issue of ESPN Outdoors Saltwater magazine, available in a digital version starting today for free on ESPNOutdoors.com. The feature “Two-Lane Road to the Keys,” details the brothers’ experience at their first ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series presented by Take Me Fishing tournament out of Islamorada last fall.

Bobby, of Lakeland, Fla., describes the event in great detail, giving insight on the lifestyle surrounding the ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series tournaments.

“When you’re out there before sunup, it feels like you’re completely free and in tune with the fish and nature,” said the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year. “There are no cell phones, e-mail or other distractions. Life slows down out there. It’s all about fishing.”

Chris, of Winter Haven, Fla., won the pro celebrity division in ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series Redbone Celebrity Tournament, while Bobby finished second in the same category.

“The best part about the whole thing – besides the scenery – was the chance to fish with my brother again,” Chris said. “It was just great getting out there and fishing for fun like we used to.”

Other features in the new magazine include: “The Montauk Experience;” “One to Remember in Savannah;” “Connecting with Deep Dots;” and “Bimini’s Ghost of the Flats.”

The annual publication will include features from various locations of the ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series, including tips and technique articles, human interest focus and photo essays. For the full Lane feature and the digital version of ESPN Outdoors Saltwater magazine, visit: http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/saltwater/featureIndex?page=saltwater_series_mag_archive_index.

MR. FREEBIE: Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bill Lowen of North Bend, Ohio, got a big response last weekend when fans heard he was giving away free stuff at the OPTIMA Batteries Battle on the Border at Texas’ Lake Amistad.

Lowen had publicized that he would give one product made by Buck Knives to the first 25 comers and one rod-buoyancy device, The Rod Guard, to 50 fans.

He handed out the goodies within minutes, but decided not to disappoint the scores of fans still waiting in line. He kept on giving, handing out a total of 250 units of The Rod Guard, which fits over a rod blank so it will float if dropped into the water.

Lowen plans to give away more of his sponsors’ products at each of the remaining seven regular-season Elite Series events. Beginning with the next Elite stop — the March 26-29 Diamond Drive on Lake Dardanelle out of Russellville, Ark. — he plans to offer 25 Xtreme Gloves, the children’s model, in addition to Buck Knives and Rod Guard items.

BUILDING MOMENTUM: Entering her second season as a pro on the Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour, Heather Broom of Sylva, N.C., has been tapped to join the Vicious Elite Team.

Other members of the Vicious Elite Team include Bassmaster Elite Series pros Jeff Reynolds, Gerald Swindle, Marty Stone, Pete Ponds, Brent Broderick and Kevin Short.

“I’m looking forward to working with Vicious again and using Vicious fishing lines as I compete in 2009 WBT events,” Broom said. She served on the company’s pro staff last season.

She plans to compete in the WBT’s season opener next week on Neely Henry Lake out of Gadsden, Ala. More information about the March 26-28 competition is available at http://www.Bassmaster.com.

FOR THE MOMENT: “Sometimes, you can throw everything out the window and just follow your gut. I did that today and fished the moment.” — Bassmaster Elite Series pro Michael Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., after weighing a 12-13 lunker that anchored his 27-pound, 9-ounce, first-day bag at the OPTIMA Batteries Battle on the Border on Texas’ Lake Amistad

About BASS

For more than 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 ESPN360.com, ESPN’s sports broadband network, Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.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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