BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — There are far more than 44 things to do and see at the Feb. 21-23 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.
But, as a salute to this Classic being the 44th annual world championship of bass fishing, this list stops at No. 44. Fishing fans and their families will discover many more over the three days of the event.
Competition will take place on Lake Guntersville. All other activities will be in Birmingham at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. There’s no charge to attend any Bassmaster Classic event.
1. Cheer on your favorites at the morning takeoffs. Fifty-five of the world’s best anglers in 55 of the most colorful and best-equipped bass boats in the sport will line up and power out onto Lake Guntersville at 7 a.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, from City Harbor in Guntersville, Ala. On Sunday, Feb. 23, only the 25 finalists who made the Saturday cut will compete. Sunday takeoff is also at 7 a.m. Shuttles from parking areas will be provided.
2. Ride like the wind. What’s it feel like to ride in a state-of-the-art bass boat powered by an engine larger than yourself? Courtesy of Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton and Yamaha, free demo rides from the launch site will be offered Friday-Sunday. Ages 16 and up can sign up at the tents.
3. Do some star-gazing. The best bet for up-close views of the pros in action on the water is to stay glued to Bassmaster.com. Those lucky enough to live on Lake Guntersville (or who have good friends who live there) can watch from shore and have fun glassing the boats as they whiz by. For fans planning to take a boat out on the water, Bassmaster Classic officials request that all spectators keep their distance, and don’t try to talk to the anglers or fish their water after they leave (they’ll need the option to return to that spot).
4. Get into the drama of the daily weigh-ins. The doors at the BJCC Arena will open each day at 3 p.m., Friday-Sunday. Find a seat, then sit back, relax and enjoy the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm-up, a slate of pre-weigh-in entertainment.
5. Score the best seat in the house. Text to win a seat on the Evan Williams Bourbon couch located at the front of the Livewell, the VIP seating in front of the stage. The daily texting contest, Evan Williams Seriously Good Seats Contest, will be announced in the arena at 3:30 p.m. each day, and fans 21 years and up will have 15 minutes to text “Evan Williams” to 271-26. The winner gets space on couch for themselves and up to three others.
6. Say, “How ’bout them dogs.” The canine athletes of the Super Retriever Series will show their stuff as part of the Warm-up show.
7. Make some noise. Mercury will distribute thundersticks to fans as they enter the arena. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Byron Velvick will canvas the crowd to select the “craziest” fan to receive a cool prize.
8. Drink the Dew. Diet Mountain Dew will distribute free cans of soft drinks for the first 10 minutes after the arena doors open.
9. Show off your catching skills. Mercury T-shirts will be shot into the stands. Be ready to catch them.
10. Win a GoPro camera. Watch the big screen in the arena for texting instructions for a chance to win a GoPro unit, the camera that can catch the action up close under extreme conditions.
11. Picture yourself as a Classic champ. As fans enter the BJCC Arena for the daily weigh-ins, they can have their photo taken with Skeet Reese’s 2009 Bassmaster Classic trophy, courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods.
12. Get ready for some football. As part of the Evan Williams Bourbon Classic Warm Up, a Triton 21 TrX boat will be towed into the arena by a Toyota. In the boat will be Triton pro staff anglers tossing toy footballs into the crowd.
13. Help families of warriors. At the arena, a bucket will be passed through the crowd to collect contributions to the Folds of Honor Foundation. Its mission is to provide educational scholarships to the dependents of soldiers killed or disabled while serving our country.
14. Experience the biggest tackle show in Birmingham. It’s called the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, and it’s open at the BJCC all three days, before the weigh-ins and even after the weigh-ins on Friday and Saturday. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.to 7 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Keep reading to learn about some of the activities, displays and merchandise available. Like all Classic activities, there’s no admission charge to the expo.
15. Acquire your heart’s desire. The Dick’s Sporting Goods booth at the Expo is one place you can purchase that got-to-have gear and tackle (including 2014 model lures you probably won’t see elsewhere).
16. Meet the GEICO gecko. At the GEICO booth, you can have your photo taken with the famous TV commercial star while entering to win a $500 gas card. Kids can play a GEICO game and win prizes.
17. See what swims with SpongeBob. At the Toyota booth, more than fish will be swimming in a new 800-gallon custom tank designed by Animal Planet’s “Tanked” co-stars Wayde King and Brett Raymer in partnership with Toyota and Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
18. Wonder at how good your kids are at casting. At the Toyota Casting Challenge, kids can test their skills at casting into targets.
19. Stuff it. In the Toyota Highlander Cargo Capacity Challenge, you can try to stuff as many fish into the Toyota Highlander as you can to win prizes.
20. Test your strength. In the Toyota Tundra Torque Pull, see if you have the strength to win prizes.
21. Collect free stuff at Dick’s, win prizes. Get a free Hook Me Up! commemorative lanyard and luggage tag at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Expo booth. There’s a different luggage tag each day, so collect all three. Wearing the “Hook Me Up” lanyard could earn a prize, including Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards. A prize patrol will be on the lookout at the Expo and weigh-ins to tap lanyard-wearers and award prizes on the spot.
22. Win cool stuff at the Bass Pro Shops/Nitro expo booth. Giveaway items include autographed jerseys, fishing tackle and Bass Pro Shops gift cards.