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Bass anglers set for sport’s Super Bowl as Bassmaster Classic starts Friday

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Young football players dream of playing in the Super Bowl. Likewise, young anglers dream of fishing in the Bassmaster Classic, and 53 B.A.S.S. anglers will have that dream come true when they take part in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Tulsa, Okla. this coming Friday through Sunday.

The Grand Lake event marks the 43rd world championship of bass fishing, and even though only one angler will take home the coveted title of Classic Champion, all participants will be winners in their earnings, media coverage, and sponsorships. Payout to participants ranges from $500,000 for first place to $10,000 for 53rd place.

Media coverage ranges from regional to worldwide with ESPN giving prime coverage, and all this attention creates a win-win situation for anglers and their all-important sponsors.

Chris Lane of Guntersville, Ala., won the 2012 Classic, an event that gave him fame and reshaped his life by giving him financial security and stability in his career. He said, “I’ve been able to give back to my family. They’ve supported me for years; this is a team sport for us. And I’ve been able to give back to sponsors who stuck with me for so long.”

Sharing his perspective on how winning the Classic can define a career, Lane commented, “The Classic is so prestigious because it is the Super Bowl of our sport. It is the Daytona 500, the Masters, of fishing; and it’s a worldwide event. So many people in many countries want to know about it. Like me with football, I don’t watch a lot of football, but I will watch the Super Bowl. The Classic is like that, reaching people who wouldn’t ordinarily follow fishing.”

The 2013 Classic is a family affair for Lane as his brother, Bobby Lane, from Lakeland, Fla., will also be one of the 53 competing anglers.

Eight former champs will be participating in the 2013 Classic, and those anglers are Mark Davis, Boyd Duckett, Mike Iaconelli, Alton Jones, Chris Lane, Takahiro Omori, Skeet Reese, and Kevin Van Dam, a four-time Classic Champion.

Also, seven anglers with the coveted Angler of the Year title will be competing at the Grand Lake event. Those anglers are Brent Chapman, Mark Davis, Mike Iaconelli, Aaron Masters, Skeet Reese, Gerald Swindle, and Kevin VanDam, and they have won a combined 15 Angler of the Year titles.

Kevin VanDam ranks as this year’s most experienced participant as he will be fishing his 23rd consecutive Classic. Only Rick Clunn, with 28 consecutive Classic appearances from 1974-2001, has a longer qualifying streak. Tommy Biffle has appeared in 17 Bassmaster Classics, while 15 of the anglers in the 2013 event have been to 10 or more Classics.

For the first time in its 43 year history, the Classic will have a qualifier from Maine, and that angler is Jonathan Carter, a first grade teacher from Brewer. Carter qualified for the Classic by winning the B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Division Championship on the Mystic and Charles rivers in Massachusetts and the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Lake Wheeler in Alabama. Brewer’s qualification now leaves only four states that have never had a resident angler qualify of the Classic: Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

Commenting on his first-grade students at Dyer Elementary in South Portland, Carter said, “All the kids know that I’m fishing in a big tournament. It’s something that I didn’t think they’d be able to relate to, but they all can. They don’t understand the level that this is at or what the benefits are, but they’re all rooting for me. They’re mostly concerned about me bringing back a big trophy.”

Northern Pike Challenge

Last week’s column reported that the SLRWA Northern Pike Challenge would be awarding a grand door prize drawing for $2,500 in cash when in actuality two such door prizes will be awarded. Also, organizers have announced that Nature’s Trophies Taxidermy would be awarding a free mount of the largest northern pike, and Three Rivers Taxidermy is awarding a free mount for the biggest walleye. In addition to the $1,000 hourly prizes, $100 will be awarded to the anglers who catch the largest pike and walleye.

Anglers can register for the Feb. 23 derby at American Legion in Massena, Chapman’s Sport Shop at Black Lake, North Woods Outfitters in Potsdam, Sandy’s Tackle in Lisbon, Green Machine Bait & Tackle and Uppstrom’s Bait & Tackle in Waddington, and at the Louisville Fire Station on the day of the event from 3-7 a.m. For more information, call 384-3450.

Outdoors Calendar

Saturday: SLRWA’s Annual Northern Pike Challenge (384-3450).

Saturday: Racquette Valley F&G Club’s Ice Fishing Derby at Higley Flow State Park, Colton.

Saturday-Sunday: West Potsdam Fire Department Gun Show (268-0190).

February 28: Squirrel Season Closes in Northern Zone.

February 28: Pheasant Season Closes in Northern Zone.

February 28: Ruffed Grouse Season Closes in Northern Zone.

March 2: Cranberry Lake VF&R Last Chance Ice Fishing Derby (848-2937).

March 2-3: Saranac Lake F&G Club’s 29th Annual Colby Classic (518-201-4009).

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