On a cool January afternoon, following coleslaw and 18 fried shrimp from Musselwhite’s Seafood in East Palatka, Fla., Terry “Big Show” Scroggins sat in his garage organizing lures and thinking about the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
One of modern day bass fishing’s most dominant anglers, this Classic will be his 9th in a row, and his 11th total. He’ll be quick to tell you, that truly, it’s competitive angling’s biggest show. And it involves way more than just fishing.
“At a regular season Elite Series event, you fish, weigh-in, sign a few autographs, do a little tackle prep, share a good meal with your buddies, and go to bed,” said Scroggins. “But at the Classic, it’s non-stop from 4:30 a.m. until dang near midnight, with all sorts of banquets, the outdoor show, and interviews mixed in.”
However, he’s not complaining. Not one bit. “I wouldn’t trade Classic week for anything in the world,” said the former auto body technician. “The Classic draws fans from all over the world, and to me, it’s a pleasure to sign an autograph or pose for a picture with them. When we’re not on the water, that’s what we’re there for.”
Making the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic extra fan-friendly is the fact that the weigh-in arena and outdoor show are adjacent to one another in downtown Birmingham.
When asked what advice he’d give to first-time attendees, the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo was on the top of Scroggins’ list. “To me, the Outdoors Expo is the greatest consumer fishing show there is in the country. Everything and everybody related to bass fishing is pretty much under one roof, so I’d definitely tell fans to make sure they see that,” said Scroggins.
Speaking of first trips to the Classic, “Big Show” says in heartfelt fashion that he’ll never forget his first one. “When I qualified for my very first Classic in 2003, I was pretty much a regional guy that had qualified for the Classic through the Bassmaster Eastern Opens,” remembers Scroggins. “I showed up in New Orleans to the biggest bass fishing tournament in the world, and see guys like Denny Brauer, and fast realized I was fishing against guys that I’d only seen fishing and winning on TV to that point. I’ll never ever forget that.”
In the six weeks between now and his journey to Birmingham, Scroggins will work a boat show and compete in a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open roughly 120 miles from home. But as is the case on this cloudy winter afternoon in Palatka, some portion of “Big Show’s” daily thoughts between now and then will focus on the 44th Bassmaster Classic. Even on a belly full of fried shrimp.