BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — More than one champion will be crowned during Classic Week in Birmingham, Feb. 18-25. Although the 37th annual Bassmaster Classic will take center stage, contestants will also be vying for titles in the Junior Bassmaster World Championship and the Bassmaster CastingKids finals.And you can rest assured that the kids will be fishing with the same passion and determination as the pros, regardless of the prize money.The BASS youth agenda kicks off Feb. 18 with the Junior Bassmaster World Championship (JWC). Entering its fourth year, the championship will be held at Lake Logan Martin near Pell City, Ala.Logan Martin is located on the Coosa River just upstream from Lay Lake, where the Classic will take place later in the week.Two champions will be crowned Sunday, Feb. 18, in age divisions for 11- to 14-year-olds and 15- to 18-year-olds. And the champion of each age division will win a fully rigged Triton/Mercury bass boat, scholarship money and a Walt Disney World Family Experience. New this year, each regional champ also takes home a trophy.The chance to be paired with one of the 2007 Classic qualifiers is a dream come true for the contestants. As in past years, each contestant will be "guided" by the world's best fishermen during the practice and competition. Under the championship format, the youngsters will operate the trolling motor and determine their fishing strategies and patterns for the day.Meanwhile, the pros take the back seat of the boat during the championship round to offer their encouragement. To keep the competition fair, the pros are not allowed to provide advice to the young contestants when the title is on the line.Weigh-in and launch activities for the JWC will be held at Lakeside Landing Marina in Pell City, which is 20 miles east of Birmingham."The JWC is a true BASS championship event, and the contestants have the rewarding experience of knowing what it's like to compete in a Classic-like atmosphere," said Stacy Twiggs, senior manager for the Federation Nation's youth programs."It's like no other event in competitive bass fishing. It's truly satisfying to see the parents and the pros come together for the common cause of furthering the interest of youth in bass fishing."Among the converts are many of the Classic pros."It's an awesome event," said Michael Iaconelli, the reigning Bassmaster Angler of the Year and huge fan of the BASS youth programs.
"I would have given anything to have had competitive platforms like the Junior Bassmaster program and CastingKids when I was young. I had to wait until I was old enough to join an adult club to fish tournaments."The competitive forerunner of the Junior Bassmaster program is CastingKids, created in 1991 by BASS to fill the void in promoting fishing and environmental stewardship to young anglers. Since its inception, CastingKids has reached more than 1.5 million children worldwide and has given away some $2.9 million in cash, prizes and scholarships.On Feb. 24, almost $25,000 in cash and scholarships will be up for grabs at the CastingKids world championship. Twelve competitors have a shot at the two top spots: Each of the six Federation Nation regions sends its winners from both age divisions, 7-10 and 11-14. Those contestants qualified last month at the semifinals, which were held in conjunction with the Federation Nation Championship.A preliminary round will begin at 11 a.m. at the Classic ESPN Outdoors Expo inside the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. The top-seeded finalists will compete during the Classic weigh-in show later that afternoon.