Birmingham, Lake Guntersville selected to host 2020 Bassmaster Classic
Alabama is set to once again host “the Super Bowl of bass fishing.”
B.A.S.S. announced Monday that the 50th Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held in the Yellowhammer State — the world championship bass tournament in Birmingham, with the fishing competition itself taking place on Lake Guntersville.
The iconic fishing tournament in 2020 will be held March 6-8, with daily weigh-ins and the Classic Outdoors Expo taking place at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC). This brings the competition back to its roots.
“It’s fitting that the golden anniversary Classic be held in Alabama, where B.A.S.S. was founded more than 50 years ago,” B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin said during a press conference Monday afternoon at the BJCC. “Our plans are to make this the most spectacular celebration of bass fishing in history.
“Throughout the current Bassmaster Elite Series tournament season, we are celebrating ‘The Year of the Fan’ — our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the millions of bass fishing fans who make this sport so great. The celebration will culminate in the Classic here in Birmingham,” he added.
The competition has been held in Alabama 12 previous times, eight of those in Birmingham.
“We are so proud to once again host the Bassmaster Classic, the Super Bowl of bass fishing,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin remarked. “We look forward to the great competition the Classic attracts and the dedicated fans who will gather in Birmingham for this incredible event. While in the region, we invite everyone to experience the inspirational history, legendary food and world class entertainment which make us the Magic City.”
Fishing has previously taken place on Lake Guntersville twice — in 1976 and 2014 — for this prestigious competition, which has become synonymous with bass fishing mastery over the past half-century.
“We are excited that Lake Guntersville has been chosen to be the fishery for this anniversary Classic,” Katy Norton, president of Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, commented. “The interest the Classic generates has positive impact for months, even years following the tournament, and we expect Lake Guntersville will be at the top of the list for anglers and B.A.S.S. fans to visit following next spring’s competition. We look forward to the tournament and to continuing our partnership with B.A.S.S.”
The payout has grown significantly over the years, now sitting at a whopping total of $1 million for a 53-angler field with $300,000 going to the winner.
“The Classic is literally a life-changing event for the angler who wins,” B.A.S.S. Director Chase Anderson stated. “It exemplifies what Bassmaster competition stands for: ‘Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams.’ It honors the angler who can catch the biggest bass of the week, and weigh them on the biggest stage in bass fishing, and fulfill the biggest dream any angler can have. No title in professional fishing holds the same clout as ‘Classic champion.’”
Lake Guntersville has hosted 22 major B.A.S.S. events in general.
The 68,000-acre Tennessee River fishery, which is a popular destination for bass fishing enthusiasts from across the country, will also play host to a regular-season Bassmaster Elite Series tournament June 21-24. That 23rd major B.A.S.S. event will make Guntersville the second-most visited lake in B.A.S.S. history, behind only Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas.
The Bassmaster Classic is expected to draw major tourism dollars into the state, as the 2018 Classic attracted 143,323 fans to all activities, including the Get Hooked on Fishing activity center, morning takeoffs, weigh-ins and the Expo. That was an all-time record until this year’s event on the Tennessee River in Knoxville drew 153,809.
The 2020 Classic will be covered live and streamed on Bassmaster.com, ESPN3 and the ESPN App, and five hours of original programming will be aired on ESPN2 and the Pursuit Channel following the event. In addition, the Classic annually draws more than 250 credentialed media. The 2019 Classic was covered by journalists from 28 states as well as Japan, China, Australia, Italy, Germany and Canada.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn