As for the anglers who are “in,” here are a few interesting facts:
Alabama leads the way with nine qualifiers. Texas has six, and Oklahoma has five. It’s the seventh year in a row that Alabama has sent the most anglers to the Classic or tied for that distinction. Since the championship’s inaugural event in 1971, Texas has qualified the most anglers with 295.
Arkansas is the only state to qualify at least one angler for the Classic every year. This time, 1995 Classic champ Mark Davis, Stephen Browning and Doug Thompson will represent the Natural State.
Gary Klein has the most experience of anyone in the field. He'll be competing in his 30th championship. Only four-time Classic champ Rick Clunn has fished more (32).
There are eight former Classic champions in the 2014 field, including Mark Davis (1995), Alton Jones (2008), Michael Iaconelli (2003), Chris Lane (2012), Cliff Pace (2013), Takahiro Omori (2004), Skeet Reese (2009) and Kevin VanDam (2001, 2005, 2010 and 2011). Between them, they’ve won 11 world championships.
There are eight former Toyota Bassmaster Anglers of the Year in the 2014 Classic field, including Brent Chapman (2012), Mark Davis (1995, 1998 and 2001), Michael Iaconelli (2006), Gary Klein (1989 and 1993), Aaron Martens (2005 and 2013), Skeet Reese (2007), Gerald Swindle (2004) and Kevin VanDam (1992, 1996, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). Between them, they’ve won 18 AOY titles.
With 56 anglers, the 2014 Classic will feature the second largest field in championship history. In 2003, there were 61 anglers in the Classic.
Classic qualifiers will vie for a first-place payday of $300,000, the most coveted trophy in sportfishing and a piece of bass fishing immortality.
2014 Classic qualifiers and their qualification routes
Defending Bassmaster Classic Champion
Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss.
Bassmaster Elite Series Champions
Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas
Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas
Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla.
Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif.
Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla.
Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla.
Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho
Chris Lane of Guntersville, Ala.
Bassmaster Opens Series Champions
Richard Howes of Oviedo, Fla.
Patrick Bone of Cleveland, Ga.
David Kilgore of Jasper, Ala.
Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark.