The 50th edition of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, it was announced Wednesday by B.A.S.S. and the host organization, Visit Knoxville.
The tournament- widely considered to be the world championship of the sport- will be held March 15-17, 2019 in downtown Knoxville and on the University of Tennessee Campus.
CEO of BASS: “The BASSMASTER Classic is the Super Bowl of fishing. Over the past decade, we’ve been averaging over 100 thousand people at this event. We’re expecting to shatter records here next year.” @6News pic.twitter.com/8F12TT4Do0— Bridgette Bjorlo (@bridgettebjorlo) April 11, 2018
“Knoxville meets and exceeds all the requirements we have for the Bassmaster Classic – great fishing on the Tennessee River, first-class facilities to accomodate crowds of fishing fans, a vibrant city with plenty to see and do, and a corps of state and local tourism professionals who will ensure its success,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.
The tournament began in 1971 on Lake Mead, Nevada. For the first 13 years of competition it was a fall event but was switched to summer in 1984 before switching again to late winter in 2006.
This will be the first time in over 30 years Tennessee has hosted the Bassmasters Classic. Charlie Reed took home the top prize when he won the 1986 competition on the Tennessee River. Percy Priest Reservoir is the only other site to host the tournament when it hosted just the second ever edition in 1972.
“Bass fishing is hugely popular in this part of the country,” Akin said. “In fact, 10 of our 109 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are from the Volunteer State, and most live in East Tennessee. This is going to be a very exciting Classic.”
ESPN 2001 purchase he organizing body of the tournament, Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (BASS), has raised the profile of the competition immensely. ESPN sold BASS in 2010 but the competition remains high profile. Since 2014, winners of the Bassmasters Classic have taken home $300,000.
The field is about 50 anglers who are then narrowed down to 25 after the second day of competition before the third and final day determines the winner. The angler with the highest total weight of all his catches after three days wins the competition. Each day concludes with a weigh-in and anglers are penalized if they present a fish at weigh-in that is no longer alive. All fish must measure atleast 12 inches unless host state law determines otherwise.
“We are thrilled that the BASSMASTER Classic chose Knoxville for March 2019. Hosting this is a great opportunity to turn our attention to our blue-ways. This event will fill downtown hotel rooms and for people to enjoy Knoxville and see how it’s developing.” – Mayor Rogero @6News pic.twitter.com/7kgUrdVKNL— Bridgette Bjorlo (@bridgettebjorlo) April 11, 2018
Jordan Lee enters the competition looking to three-peat after taking top honors in 2017 and 2018. He’s just sixth angler in Bassmaster Classic history to win the event multiple times and just the third to win back-to-back.