With the last berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic falling to Weekend Series National Champion Allan Glasgow, we can take a look at the field and start to make some assessments of the 49 anglers who will vie for fishing's greatest championship.
For the sixth straight year, Alabama leads the way with the most anglers in the field. Yes, the Heart of Dixie has plenty of angling talent, but it doesn't hurt when you're the hub of the professional angling scene and have talents like Aaron Martens (originally from California), Randy Howell (North Carolina), Keith Poche (Louisiana) and Chris Lane (Florida) moving there and cutting their annual travel distance by a few thousand miles.
With 10 anglers in the Classic, Alabama has just more than 20 percent of the field. That's obviously a lot, but it's not the record. The record belongs to Texas, which had 12 of 42 anglers in the 1983 Classic (28.57 percent). Alabama's 10 in 2012 marks the ninth time a state has cracked double figures. Texas has done it seven times and Alabama twice.
It's also the sixth straight year that Alabama has led the way with the most qualifiers from any state, showing a trend not only of Alabama talent but the tendency of top pros to relocate there. Great fishing and the fact that the Classic has been held in Birmingham more often than any other venue doesn't hurt, either. Why not put yourself in the area where championships are frequently held?
Despite leading all states in Classic contenders in recent years, Alabama only ranks fifth all-time for producing qualifiers. Texas is head and shoulders above the other states with 278, followed by Arkansas with 178, Missouri with 140, Florida with 115 and Alabama with 114. Alabama seems a lock to pass Florida and move into fourth position at the 2013 Classic on Grand Lake o' the Cherokees.
In 42 Classics, anglers have represented 46 states and four foreign countries. Only Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota and Wyoming have not sent a resident to the championship. Arkansas is the only state to have sent a qualifier to every Classic. Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas each missed one year.
Boyd Duckett is the only angler to win the Classic in his home state. The Demopolis, Ala., pro took the 2007 Classic on Lay Lake, ending a 36-year-long "jinx" that got the better of dozens of other competitors. This year Greg Hackney is the lone qualifier with a chance to join Duckett. Hackney is from Arkansas, but calls Gonzalez, La., home and would love nothing more than to win on the Red River.
This will be Hackney's fourth opportunity to win the Classic in his home state. No other angler ever had more than three chances. Jack Chancellor, Woo Daves and Randy Howell all had three attempts to win at home but failed each time, though Chancellor and Daves would go on to win at other venues.