After Day 1 of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, local angler Ott DeFoe is in the lead, according to the Bassmaster leaderboard.
DeFoe is from Knoxville and told WATE 6 On Your Side he was happy the “Super Bowl of bass fishing” tournament was happening in his hometown.
Professional anglers from across the world lined their boats up at Volunteer’s Landing early Friday morning for the kickoff of the 2019 Geico Bassmaster Classic.
It is the first time in its 49-year history the “Super Bowl of bass fishing” tournament has been held in Knoxville, and the crowds were enthusastic both on shore and at the Knoxville Convention Center, where the expo is happening simultaneously.
At the river, following the national anthem, the crowd cheered as all 52 competitors were announced and pushed out in their vessels for the first day’s catch around 8 a.m.
The anglers have 30,000 acres of the Tennessee River to work with and many of its waters were visible to fans on the shoreline.
Professional bass fishermen Bill Lowen and Ish Monroe have competed in the Bassmaster Classic 10 times.
While they are disappointed to be sitting on the sidelines this year, they said they are excited for the tournament to take place in Knoxville.
“If you want to be a bass fisherman and fish professionally, you’re pretty much gonna be able to cover all your bases of all different types of fishing in this area,” Monroe said.
Lowen said that at previous locations for the “Super Bowl of Bass fishing,” the sport took place miles away from the other events, which can be hard on the anglers and fans.
He said the set up in Knoxville is perfect.
“As you seen this morning, the crowds were huge and it’s a Friday. You know, tomorrow and Sunday I think are gonna be twice as what we saw this morning,” Lowen.
Anglers will head to the Thompson-Boling Area for the weigh-in events, which is just down the road from the water and dock at Volunteer’s Landing.
Hundreds of fans from across the world surrounded Volunteer’s Landing at the kickoff Friday morning.
Two fans drove from Ohio to watch the professionals in person after watching them on television for so many years.
“Just to see the excitement and feel the excitement from, like I said, for all of the years I bass fished and federation fished and just to see the big real deal,” Bob Ventre said.
Twenty-seven of the 52 anglers will be cut from the competition on Saturday. Many of them will be at the expo for fans to meet before the big weigh-in on Sunday.
Crowds on Friday brought in over 55,000 people which broke an all-time record.