Thanks also to Dave Mercer for sending this along.
There are already a few hundred spectators out lining the barrier fence by the boat ramp. Most are from Oklahoma, Nebraska;Missouri and Arkansas but I found the Spences from Lafayette, La. This is their third Classic, the other two in their home state. Are they rooting for someone from near home? Quite the opposite. They're Palaniuk fans and think this weather plays to his cold water experience.
I just spoke with Peggy Kiefer of the Grove Sun. She's covered lots of tournaments on Grand Lake, but Wednesday was her first time riding with a pro. She was in Ish Monroe's boat and said that "the only thing that got cold was my hands. I had gloves but I had to take them off to take pictues." How about some hazard pay?
The most popular people this morning are three ladies in a tent serving coffee, hot chocolate and "more coffee." They're all shivering, though. "They promised us there'd be a heater," said Alicia Pimental. She's still cheerful, but with temps dropping that may not last long. Coffee works, but it becomes a struggle when nature calls.
Because of the distance from Tulsa to the takeoff, I was skeptical about seeing big crowds this morning. But when photographer Jerry Cunningham and I arrived at 5:05, there were already about 200 cars and trucks in the parking lot. I hope they dressed in ample layers, because it's cold!
With frigid temperatures descending on Grand Lake, you'd figure the Classic contenders would be bundled up in hotel rooms and campers the night before Day One of the tournament. Not Aaron Martens. The noted outside-the-box thinker was spotted at the Grove, Okla., Walmart a little before 9 p.m. buying Cheerios among other things. Not for his kids, though -- they're in Tulsa, probably already tucked in. One can only wonder if the noted tackle-tinkerer still has to tweak some lures or respool reels.
Do you think you have what it takes to compete in Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing? There's only one way to find out if you actually measure up ...
Take a few minutes now to register and set your team for tomorrow's competition. Prizes go to the Top 10 scorers. It's free to play!
Based on fans' current team settings, these anglers are predicted to be the best in their category once the Classic comes to a close:
Kevin VanDam, 31%
Edwin Evers, 28%
Ott DeFoe, 32%
Michael Iaconelli, 24%
Brandon Palaniuk, 27%
Gerald Swindle, 20%
Russ Lane, 28%
Jonathon VanDam, 20%
Matt Lee, 42%
Mark Pierce, 23%
This year, B.A.S.S. is making it super easy to find whatever it is you're looking for at the outdoor show. We're debuting a digital version of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick's Sporting Goods.
"I am very excited to say B.A.S.S. is now offering a digital version of the expo layout and schedule," said Eric Lopez, director of event operations. "The expo map is fully interactive and allows guests to click on the booths, learn about show specials and make a customized schedule.
"Plus, at the event, guests can use their phone to access the digital floor plan and see the entire event schedule."
The Expo is held in the Tulsa Convention Center, 100 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103. Hours are as follows:
Friday, Noon to 8 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There’s nothing like being at a Bassmaster Classic. But if you can’t be in Oklahoma this weekend, we’ve got you covered. You can keep up online in a way that will make you feel like you’re on the water yourself.
Here are nine ways we’ll keep you informed:
You get a front row seat to the weigh-ins each day. From the comfort of your home, you can watch the pros weigh in right in front of you on your computer screen without delay. You’ll know who wins at the same time the winner finds out! Tune in to the live weigh-ins at 4:30 p.m. CT all three days of competition.
You can also tune in to the launch every morning, which takes place at 7 a.m. CT daily here.
In fewer than 140 characters apiece, you can read updates of the tournament as it is happening. From your laptop, phone or desktop, you can watch the event unfold, tweet by tweet.
There are several ways to follow along on Twitter. You can follow the official B.A.S.S. Twitter account, www.twitter.com/BASS_nation, where you’ll get insider info provided by B.A.S.S.’s on-site staff, B.A.S.S. emcees and tournament officials.
You can follow the official Classic hashtag, #bassmaster. Anyone connected to or interested in the tournament tags his or her posts with this keyword, and fans can read multiple perspectives on the tournament’s goings-on. To follow the hashtag, whether you have a Twitter account or not, just go to http://tweetchat.com/room/bassmasterclassic.
You can also follow the contenders’ or insiders’ Twitter accounts. Click these links to follow the lists of Classic contenders, including Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli, or to follow B.A.S.S. insiders, including emcee Dave Mercer and host Mark Zona.
Humminbird BASSCam is a series of videos shot on the water and uploaded immediately so you can get near-live updates of what’s happening out there, often in the pros’ own words. Videos are posted all three days of competition.
Fans of B.A.S.S.’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bass, get updates and photos throughout the day right in their newsfeed. You can comment, ask questions and share photos, all within Facebook. Plus, most of the Bassmaster Classic contenders have their own fan pages, so you can watch your favorites (and get their fishing advice) all year long.
During the live weigh-ins, fans can watch the Live Leaderboard to see who’s on track to make the Top 25 cut for Sunday's finale.
B.A.S.S. emcee Dave Mercer and The Bassmasters hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona team up for Toyota Hooked Up!, a live video special, which airs at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. CT all three days of competition.
At the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, B.A.S.S. introduced the Lowrance War Room, a concept that was extremely popular with fans. The doors to the formerly private TV and production trailers have been pried open, and you now get to hear what B.A.S.S. officials hear, when they hear it.
Even better, if you have a question, just ask it in the comments box below the War Room video, and the producers will make every effort to get your question answered.
The War Room opens at 8 a.m. CT Friday, Saturday and Sunday and provides updates on the hour until 2 p.m. CT.
8. Live Blog
The Live Blog is where our reporters’ on-the-fly updates will be posted throughout the three-day competition. B.A.S.S. reporters take to Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, seeking out contenders and trying to get the scoop, which we then deliver to you, right here.
The very popular Toyota BASSTrakk will be running during competition hours all three days. When a contender catches a fish, his Marshal reports the estimated weight, which in turn is posted online so you can see how your favorite pro is doing — and where the fish are.
All nine of these options are completely free! We invite you to tune in, interact and enjoy!
Chris Bowes stands on the BOK Center floor with the nearly completed stage in the background. (Mike Suchan photo)
Practice makes perfect, and that includes setting up the drivers who will be bringing in the anglers and their boats for the Classic weigh-ins in the BOK Center.
Chris Bowes, a tournament manager at B.A.S.S., has the task of making sure the Toyota Tundras will be able to circle the arena floor with ease. They are going through dress rehearsal, making sure each of the four drivers are comfortable.
Getting the rigs onto the floor is a straight shot, but there’s a hard turn upon exiting that has them a touch concerned.
“I just want to run these guys through it to make sure it can be done,” Bowes said. “It’ll be dark and there’s bright lights flashing.”
One immediate issue was a bright floodlight shining out onto the floor from behind stage. “I hope that’s only one when they’re coming out. If not, we’ll move it. It’s better to do it now than running into it during the weigh-in.”