That event was in Kansas, where the weather was so rough the competition was cut to two days. This year’s Oct. 28-30 championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes will be out of Tavares, Fla., where the weather is expected to be warmer. Schmidt, however, isn’t expecting the competition to be any easier.
He’s loving his automatic entry as defending champion. Otherwise, he said, he would not have qualified. It’s almost as difficult to qualify for consecutive Federation Nation Championships as it is to get back to the Classic.
“Just getting out of Texas is pretty tough and then having to compete against all those guys (in his division) is really hard,” he said.
“When I joined the Federation Nation in Texas nine years ago, I thought it was the neatest thing in the world that I was actually fishing something that I could get to the Classic from,” he said. “After two to three years, I saw the handwriting on the wall, and said, “You know what, there are some really good fishermen in this Federation. I doubt if I’ll ever make it out of the state of Texas, much less get any further. But I kept fishing and kept fishing. Then, about three years ago, my fishing started turning around.”
Last year, after progressively climbing the divisional ranks, he fished his way to the 2008 championship, where he won the spot in the 2009 Classic. There, he finished admirably (sixth) and joined the long line of Federation Nation anglers who have found success in the Classic.
If he is not among the six this year to capture a 2010 Classic berth, Schmidt will keep on trying. He said he will enter the 2010 Central Opens as a road to the 2011 Classic. He already missed his 2010 chance at the Centrals through the Federation Nation due to scheduling conflicts.
The public is invited to see how Schmidt and the other 54 competitors fare in Florida. Takeoffs and weigh-ins will be at Wooten Park, 200 S. Rockingham Ave., Tavares. Takeoff is at 7:30 a.m. ET; weigh-ins are set to begin at 3:45 p.m. ET. Bassmaster.com will provide streaming video of the weigh-ins, along with real-time leaderboards, standings, stories and photo galleries.
Besides the six Classic spots, this week’s tournament will produce one overall winner, who will get an invitation to the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series and a Skeeter/Yamaha boat rig valued at $63,250.
OF ROOKIES AND VETERANS: Of the seven newest qualifiers for the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series, one is Bradley Roy, an 18-year-old from Lancaster, Ky.
Born in Nov. 2, 1990, he is the youngest Elite qualifier in the circuit’s history. He earned his Elite berth last weekend at the season finale of the Bassmaster Southern Open in South Carolina at Santee Cooper Reservoir. He was fifth in the points standings; only the top seven made it.
Roy’s blog (http://www.bradleyroy.com) tells the story of his final hours of striving for an Elite berth: “Going into the last day of competition I was in 17th place at Santee Cooper. With a few quick calculations the night before, I knew I needed to stay where I was in the tournament to move into the top seven in points and achieve my dream of receiving an invitation into the Bassmaster Elite Series.”
Roy achieved the invite in his first season competing at the pro level. He’s an experienced competitor, however. At age 13, he was the 2004 Bassmaster Junior World champion in his age group. He earned the sole qualification from his state to compete in the 2008 BASS Federation Nation Championship.
Two others who qualified at the Santee event — Florida’s Terry Scroggins and Kentucky’s Mark Menendez — are longtime Elite competitors who already had secured 2010 spots through the 2009 Elite Series rankings, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points system.
Both will take their 2010 Elite qualification through the Southern Open and will count towards the seven anglers who will advance from those points standings. Of those who qualified, three are from Alabama, two are from Kentucky and one each is from Oklahoma and Florida.
Another who earned an Elite berth, Scott Ashmore of Broken Arrow, Okla., also scored a 2010 Classic berth, as did Scroggins.
The other three new Elite candidates are Alabamians David Kilgore of Jasper, Mark McCaig of Oxford, and Keith Poche of Troy.
New qualifiers have until Dec. 1 to accept the invitation to join the 2010 Elite Series, which kicks off March 11-14 on the California Delta out of Stockton, Calif.
DON’T MISS THE BOAT: Just introduced is the 2009 BASS Hallmark Keepsake Ornament. It’s a BASS-blue boat in miniature, complete with engine, trolling motor, pedestal seats and other details, and suspended from a swiveled lure-like hanger. The tree ornament is available at Hallmark Gold Crown stores or at http://www.Hallmark.com/keepsakes.
TUNDRA RIDE: Aside from making history as the first woman to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic, another reason Kim Bain-Moore was so happy last year to win the 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Women’s Tour Angler of the Year title was because of the prize of a new Toyota Tundra.
She recently took delivery, a welcome replacement to her aging tow vehicle.
“It’s been so exciting,” she said. “I think the first week after I got it, I volunteered to do any errand for anyone, as a chance to drive the truck. I love the whole package.”
It’s snow white with leather interior and a long list of extras, including DVD players on the backs of the front seat headrests, big rims, and a backup camera that makes hitching a boat a snap.
WHAT THE CLASSIC MEANS TO HER: “It’s not, in my mind, a male vs. female thing. I want to compete, to help grow the sport for men and women. If one person — a man, woman or child — can see me on that stage, and say, ‘I can do that too,’ if it prompts one person to get outdoors, then part of my job’s complete.” — Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., on her recent accomplishment as a qualifier for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, a prize for being the 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Women’s Tour Angler of the Year
About BASS For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
As the flagship offering of ESPN Outdoors, the Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com, ESPNOutdoors.com and ESPN360.com, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women’s Tour, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
BASS 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.