The field is finally set for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake, Okla., Feb. 22-24, with the qualification of Albert Collins of Texas through the Bassmaster Weekend Series. There's still four months until the championship, but it's a good time to take a look at the anglers who will be competing.
There will be 53 anglers in the 2013 Classic — tied for second most all-time. In 2003 there were 61 qualifiers, and in 2004 there were 53.
For the first time, Maine has an angler in the Classic — Jonathan Carter, who qualified through the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. Now only four states (Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota and Wyoming) have failed to send a representative to the Super Bowl of bass fishing.
There are eight former Classic champs in the 2013 field (Mark Davis, Boyd Duckett, Michael Iaconelli, Alton Jones, Chris Lane, Takahiro Omori, Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam). The record is 10 (1989).
Those eight former champs hold 11 Classic titles (thanks to KVD's four). The record is 12 (1989, 2005 and 2006).
There are seven current or former Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Anglers of the Year in the 2013 Classic field (Brent Chapman, Davis, Iaconelli, Aaron Martens, Reese, Gerald Swindle and VanDam). The record is 10 (2006).
Those seven AOYs hold 15 AOY titles. The record is 22 (2002).
The average angler in the 2013 Classic has already competed in 5.40 Classics, making it the fifth most experienced field in Classic history. The 2006 field had competed in 5.92 Classics.
The most experienced individual anglers in this Classic lineup are KVD (22 previous championships) and Tommy Biffle (17 previous). Fifteen anglers in the field have already been to 10 Classics or more. KVD is fishing his 23rd straight Classic — the second longest streak in history behind Rick Clunn's 28 straight (1974-2001).
In Classic history, there have been 16 streaks of qualifying for 10 championships in a row or more. Four of those streaks are in progress. You have KVD at 23, Iaconelli at 12 (2002-13), Greg Hackney at 11 (2003-13) and Martens at 10 (2004-13).
Mark Dove, the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation champion, tied an obscure but interesting Classic record this year. Dove last fished the championship in 1997. His 16-year gap between appearances ties Danny Correia (1986-2002) and David Gregg (1983-99) for the longest. Another 2013 Classic qualifier, Pete Gluszek, went 14 years between appearances (1999-2013).
And speaking of the BFN, Zimbabwe's Gerry Jooste will be fishing his fifth Classic as an amateur, breaking his own record of four. Only one other BFN angler (Jeff Boyer) has fished as many as three Classics.
Bobby and Chris Lane are fishing their third Classic together. They also made the championship simultaneously in 2008 and 2012 (when Chris won it all). Only two other brother combinations have ever fished the Classic together — Don and Tom Mann (1975) and David and Kevin Johnson (1980).
If the 2013 Classic field looks familiar, it should. Forty-nine percent of the anglers who fished the 2012 Classic are back to try again. That's about normal.
One angler fishing his first Classic is Matt Lee, the College B.A.S.S. champion out of Auburn University. Lee is the youngest angler in the field. On the final day of competition he'll be 24 years, 1 month and 19 days old — not nearly young enough to break Stanley Mitchell's record for youngest champion. Mitchell was 21-5-19 when he won in 1981.
The oldest angler in the field is Dove at 57-3-28. If he wins, he'll be the oldest champion in history, surpassing Woo Daves who was 54-2-28 when he won in 2000. Three other anglers in the 2013 field could also break Daves' record with a win — Shaw Grigsby, Biffle and Jooste.
There are 16 Classic rookies in this year's field. Again, that's about normal for a field of this size. Most of the rookies come through the BFN, Opens and Weekend Series. Relatively few (four in 2013) make it on points through the Elite Series.
Finally, there are three Oklahoma residents who will be chasing a title in their home state — Biffle, Jason Christie and Edwin Evers. While all three will be short-listed by the pundits (including me) as favorites to win the event, they're well aware that only one angler has been able to win the Classic in his home state, and that was Alabama's Boyd Duckett in 2007.
Check out the next page for a list of qualifiers to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.