BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — It’s an often heard refrain among bass anglers: “I’ve dreamed of going to the Bassmaster Classic since I was a kid.” Only a select group achieve the objective of seeing their names on the roster for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, but with the field for the world championship of bass fishing close to completion, many of those anglers rest easy knowing they’ve made it.
Already 54 of the eventual 56 competitors — from Classic rookies to former Classic champs — have been determined and will compete for a share of a purse worth $1 million in Birmingham, Ala., B.A.S.S.’s headquarters. Fishing will take place on Lake Guntersville, Feb. 21-23, and weigh-ins will be held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.
Remaining to be determined are qualifiers from the Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series and the inaugural Bassmaster Classic Wild Card tournament on Lake Okeechobee.
The Top 50 Weekend Series anglers will compete on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, Tenn., Nov. 6-9. The anglers will be vying for prize money and the Classic berth that goes to the champion. At the Wild Card, Dec. 5-7, Elite Series and Opens anglers have one final shot at earning their way into the Classic.
Alabama has been home to the Bassmaster Classic 11 times since 1974, and Birmingham has been the site of the Classic weigh-in six times.
Of the 54 anglers already qualified for the Super Bowl of bass fishing, six earned their spots through the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. Eight competitors qualified through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, and eight took their slots by winning Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments.
Others in the field earned their spots by consistently performing throughout the Bassmaster Elite Series season and accruing Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points. Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., ended the season at the top in points and won the coveted Angler of the Year trophy. Cliff Pace, last year’s Classic champion, automatically qualified to defend his title but also earned his way through points.