Who’s the odds-on favorite to win the 2024 Classic?

Break down the winning odds for every angler in the 2024 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey.

Predicting who’s going to win the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey is a near-impossible task. As I sit here typing, it’s early February. The tournament is more than a month away, and I don’t know if it’ll be 30 degrees or 70 when we get to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Oklahoma in late March. The fishery could be crystal clear or look like chocolate milk with a little black food coloring mixed in. So, who’s gonna win the Classic? If my life depended on answering that question correctly, my time on this rock might be nearly up.
But with that said, I’m pretty darned proud of my track record with this annual unenviable task of assigning odds to each of the anglers who dream of winning the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing. During my eight years as the “Odds Guy,” the winners have received the following odds: Edwin Evers (2016, 5/1), Jordan Lee (2017, 8/1), Lee again (2018, 15/1), Ott DeFoe (2019, 4/1), Hank Cherry (2020, 7/1), Cherry again (2021, 6/1), Jason Christie (2022, 4/1) and Jeff Gustafson (4/1). They haven’t all been the true favorites, but none of them caught me completely off guard.
As you read, please process the concept of assigning “odds.” I’m not trying to pick the order of finish for all of these great anglers from first place to 56th. That would be much harder than just picking a winner. The numbers next to each angler’s name are simply reflective of what I believe to be his chances of winning the Classic trophy. If a guy is listed at 150/1 and finishes fourth, more power to him. But I was still right — his odds of winning weren’t good.
Whatever the sport, sooner or later, a longshot prevails. If I do this gallery long enough, I know eventually someone will overcome long odds to prove me wrong and tip the fishing world on its ear. It’s happened before with stunning victories like the one by B.A.S.S. Nation qualifier Bryan Kerchal in 1994. It’ll happen again — and I absolutely cannot wait! Scroll ahead to see the odds for the 56 anglers in this year’s 55th renewal of the sport’s biggest show.
Jason Christie (3/2)
Welling, Oklahoma
In this, my ninth year of handicapping the Classic, I’m making Christie the most overwhelming favorite of my tenure. And why not? As a native Okie, Grand is HIS pond. A veteran of 113 B.A.S.S. events and the winner of the 2022 Classic on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, Christie is making his 10th trip to the big show. Two of the previous nine Classics he fished were on Grand, and those events produced a seventh-place finish in 2013 and a heartbreaking second-place finish in 2016. With one Classic trophy already on his mantle and eight B.A.S.S. wins to his credit, expect Christie to fish with little to no pressure. Make no mistake, this is his tournament to lose.  
Greg Hackney (4/1)
Gonzales, Louisiana
I puffed my chest out back in 1998 after successfully picking Denny Brauer to win the Classic on High Rock Lake based on one piece of information — it seemed like his time. Since then, I’ve tried every year to pick out “fate’s favorite,” and there just hasn’t been another one. But nobody’s ever been more due to win a Classic than Hackney. This is his 18th trip and two of his best finishes happened right here at Grand (13th in 2013 and 10th in 2016). He’s won everything else the sport has to offer. He won’t be bothered by the week of Classic festivities, and it just seems like it could be his time. If a shallow jig bite is in play, he could run away with the thing.
Patrick Walters (4/1)
Summerville, S.C.
This is the fifth Classic appearance for Walters, and though his high-water mark was a 10th-place finish in Fort Worth in 2021, he’s come into his own lately in a gigantic way. His last five finishes in 2023 were sixth, 24th, 27th, seventh and first. During that victory on the St. Lawrence River in New York, he set the all-time B.A.S.S. record with a four-day limit of 20 smallmouth that weighed 105 pounds. He already has five B.A.S.S. wins prior to his 30th birthday — and if this turns into a prespawn LiveScoping event, he could make his biggest mark on the sport yet.
Bob Downey (5/1)
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Downey has only fished two career Classics, finishing 27th at Guntersville in 2020 and 17th in Knoxville in 2023. But he holds a massive distinction in this Classic field as the only competitor with a major victory on Grand Lake. He won the 2019 Open on Grand with 48 pounds, 9 ounces. It was a three-day tournament — just like the Classic. A jig and a creature bait were his weapons of choice during that September event. Whether shallow flipping and pitching will come into play in this event is hard to say, but an Opens trophy with “Grand Lake” printed on it certainly puts Downey among the favorites.
Hank Cherry (5/1)
Lincolnton, North Carolina
It seems like a lifetime ago that Cherry lost a key fish and cost himself a chance to win the 2013 Classic on Grand Lake. He’s since laid those demons to rest with back-to-back Classic victories at Lake Guntersville in 2020 and Lake Ray Roberts in 2021. But he could do a nice little dance on their graves by coming full circle with a win on the very lake where that monkey first climbed on his back. If a prespawn jerkbait bite is on, it could happen — and if it does, Cherry might ride off into the Oklahoma sunset with nothing left on his to-do list but coaching his youngsters and loving his wife, Jaclyn.
Kenta Kimura (6/1)
Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
Like many Japanese pros who have little to do but fish during their time in America, Kimura has displayed outstanding abilities on both the Bassmaster Elite Series and in the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens presented by SEVIIN. In addition to finishing 23rd in the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year race last year, Kimura placed fifth in the ultra-competitive Opens EQ Division, and his lone victory with B.A.S.S. came at the 2022 Open on the James River. He’s one of the most versatile anglers in the sport — and while his only trip to the Classic (in 2023) produced a subpar 43rd-place finish, two impressive trips to Grand on the Opens circuit resulted in a fourth-place showing in 2019 and a second-place finish in 2021.
Brandon Palaniuk (6/1)
Rathdrum, Idaho
Last year, I made Palaniuk the favorite to win in Knoxville simply because he’s the kind of angler who’s a threat to claim a trophy just about anywhere. The 36-year-old “Prodigy” seems like an old hand in this business because he’s fished 153 B.A.S.S. events with six victories, six second-place finishes and 13 trips to the Classic, including this one. In two Classics on Grand, he finished 12th in 2016 and second in 2013. His ability to fish virtually any technique — including the ones that utilize big baits and require lots of patience and mental fortitude — could someday allow him to blow the doors off a one-and-done event like the Classic.
Kyoya Fujita (6/1)
Yamanashi, Japan
Everything about this guy — from his nickname “The Young Prince of Japanese Angling” to his amazing prowess with forward-facing sonar and spinning tackle — just screams he’s going to be a megastar. He used his skills to finish seventh in the AOY race his rookie season in 2023 with a first-place finish and a second. He already has one win this season, and prespawn event could set up perfectly for him. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the bright lights and circus atmosphere of the Classic for the first time.
Joey Cifuentes III (6/1)
Clinton, Arkansas
It makes perfect sense to pair Cifuentes and Fujita together since they fished so similarly during the regular season that led them here. During Cifuentes’ first Elite win on Lake Seminole in February, Fujita finished second. During Cifuentes’ second victory on Lake St. Clair five months later, Fujita was seventh. They fish similarly when it comes to targeting bass masterfully with forward-facing sonar — and that’s why they finished first and second in the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race, with Cifuentes sweating it out until the last possible moment to claim the title. If forward-facing sonar comes into play, which it almost certainly will, look for Cifuentes and Fujita to be major players again
Jeff Gustafson (7/1)
Kenora, Ontario, Canada
If last year’s Classic in Knoxville had been held a week earlier and Gussy’s deep smallmouth pattern was still in full swing, he might have scored one of the most dominant victories in the history of the event. By contrast, if it had been a week later, he might not have made the final-day Top 25 cut. As it turned out, the pattern was just strong enough for one of the sport’s classiest competitors to score the biggest win of his career. Since repeat winners aren’t as rare as they used to be, I like Gussy in this spot at 7/1. This is his fifth Classic appearance. Before last year’s win, he had finished 31st, 21st and 41st.
Luke Palmer (7/1)
Coalgate, Oklahoma
The only Okie in the crowd besides Christie, Palmer had his coming-out party in pro fishing last year, recording his first Elite Series victory at Santee Cooper Lakes and finishing a rock-solid 15th in the AOY standings. This is his fifth trip to the Classic, with previous finishes of 15th, 28th, sixth and 32nd — and though he’s never fished a major B.A.S.S. event on Grand, the backyard advantage has to count for something here. His ability to target prespawn largemouth around shallow cover with forward-facing sonar could count even more.
Kyle Welcher (7/1)
Opelika, Alabama
The reigning Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year secured that title by simply refusing to accept anything less and swinging for the fences on the first day of the regular-season finale on the St. Lawrence River, even though it meant braving the giant waves of Lake Ontario. That’s the kind of attitude that wins Classics, and it almost helped Welcher to a Classic trophy in 2022 when he finished second to Jason Christie at Lake Hartwell by a mere 5 ounces. Missing last year’s event in Knoxville and then rebounding with an AOY season should make him hungry — and what could be more dangerous than a fearless, hungry, versatile angler?
Brandon Card (8/1)
Salisbury, North Carolina
If karma is a real thing — and I believe it is — then Card should have earned a pile of karma points for the courage he showed during the 2023 season. After battling meningitis during the offseason and developing Bell’s palsy, Card wasn’t even sure he’d be able to fish. But he opened the season with finishes of seventh, 19th, 16th and 27th and ultimately placed 25th in the AOY standings. He’s an excellent junk fisherman if this tournament comes to that, and he’s had some respectable Classic finishes — as high as ninth in 2020 — during his six previous trips. Plus, like I said … karma.
Drew Cook (8/1)
Cairo, Georgia
Cook was a model of consistency on the Elite Series last year with five top 15 finishes in nine events — and while he’s known by many as a sight-fishing superstar, the 2019 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year has many more tools and techniques in his arsenal. In 68 career events with B.A.S.S., Cook has 35 top 30 finishes. Think about that. Against the top competition on earth, he’s finished inside the top 30 more often than he’s finished outside of it. He’s also amassed $728,905 in career earnings. In four previous Classic appearances, his top finish was a ninth-place showing during the summer event in Fort Worth in 2021.
Jay Przekurat (9/1)
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
This 24-year-old phenom placed sixth in the AOY standings in 2023 and proved for the second year in row that he’s more than just a Northern sensation. After a seventh-place finish in his first Classic at Knoxville, the former Rookie of the Year placed fifth at Alabama’s Lay Lake, 11th at Michigan’s Lake St. Clair and fifth at New York’s Lake Champlain. His track record at Grand is fascinating, considering he won an Open there as a 20-year-old co-angler in 2019 and placed 21st on the boater side of an Open in 2021. He’s another who could score big if a forward-facing sonar slugfest develops.
Jacob Powroznik (9/1)
North Prince George, Virginia
While Powroznik has had mixed results at Grand Lake, his Classic resume suggests he should be among the favorites anytime the event is held. In three trips to Grand, he’s finished 43rd (2016 Classic), 44th (2018 Elite) and 25th (2021 Open). But in seven trips to the Classic, he has three Top 10s, including last year’s ninth-place finish at Knoxville. If it turns into the kind of junk-fishing tournament that requires a different approach each day, keep an eye on this guy.
Brandon Cobb (10/1)
Greenwood, South Carolina
Cobb turned in a fantastic 2023 season that saw him finish second in the Angler of the Year race, and this will be his fifth career Classic appearance. He made noise in the event for the first time last year, finishing eighth at Knoxville. A shallow-water event would certainly play to his strengths.
Scott Canterbury (10/1)
Odenville, Alabama
Canterbury sat on the hot seat at last year’s Classic until the very end when only Bryan Schmitt and champion Jeff Gustafson finished ahead of him. As a lifelong Coosa River veteran, Grand Lake should be right in his wheelhouse, even though he’s never fished a major event there with B.A.S.S. The 2019 Angler of the Year wouldn’t mind at all if the tournament sets up for him to flip a jig all day — and if that happens, he could be planted in that hot seat again come Championship Sunday.
Chris Johnston (10/1)
Otonabee, Ontario, Canada
It speaks volumes about Johnston’s career with B.A.S.S. that he finished 18th in last year’s AOY standings, and it was one of the tougher seasons he’s had on the Bassmaster Elite Series. But predictably, he righted his ship late in the season with finishes of 26th, 23rd and second in the final three regular-season Northern Swing events. He’ll take that positive momentum into the Classic where he’s already had two Top 10 finishes in four appearances. His sight-fishing skills aren’t likely to help him much in this event, but his ability to flip and pitch a jig could put him squarely in contention.
Cory Johnston (10/1)
Cavan, Ontario, Canada
Just like Cifuentes and Fujita seem to pair well together, the Johnston brothers belong on the same rung of the ladder because they A) fish so similarly and B) tend to share every bit of information they come across in practice. Whatever Chris knows by game time, Cory will likely know as well. That’s why Cory has 28 top 20 finishes with B.A.S.S., and Chris has 24. If a flipping/jig-fishing bite is on, we could have a Classic with brothers battling it out for the crown. Like Chris, Cory has made four previous Classic appearances. But unlike Chris who has two Top 10s, Cory has none. He’s finished 11th twice.
Will Davis Jr. (12/1)
Sylacauga, Alabama
In just over a year’s time, Davis has gone from a virtual unknown to a two-time B.A.S.S. Nation Championship winner and an Elite Series champion after his victory last spring at Lay Lake. The big stage certainly hasn’t intimidated him, but the biggest stage wasn’t kind to him as he finished 40th in his first Classic appearance last year at Knoxville. He’s come a long way since then, and it’ll be interesting to see how he changes his Classic approach.
Matt Robertson (12/1)
Kuttawa, Kentucky
Robertson was once known as “that guy who wears the fur coat and also fishes a little.” But the more he fishes, the more he flips the script and makes it known he’s a true threat in any tournament he enters. After a slow start to the 2023 Elite season, he made the Top 50 semifinal cut in six of the final seven events, including a fifth-place finish at the Sabine River and 10th- and 12th-place finishes during the final New York swing at Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. He’s made four previous Classic appearances — qualifying through three different methods — with a career-best finish of seventh at Lake Ray Roberts in 2021. An offshore event would favor him most, but he can win under any conditions.
Bryan Schmitt (12/1)
Deale, Maryland
Schmitt is so quiet that he’s easy to underestimate, and I honestly believe he likes it that way. He finished eighth in last year’s AOY race after a season that saw him notch six finishes of 35th or better. He’s making his third Classic appearance after finishing second last year at Knoxville, less than 2 1/2 pounds behind champion Jeff Gustafson. If the bite is tough and it takes multiple methods to put together the winning three-day total, expect Schmitt to be right there again on Championship Sunday.
Matt Arey (14/1)
Shelby, North Carolina
Arey had a fantastic season, making seven of nine Saturday semifinal cuts on the Elite Series — and he was downright fabulous during true Southern events on Lake Seminole, Lake Murray, Santee Cooper Lakes and Lay Lake. Plus, he’s proven the bright lights of the Classic don’t bother him with finishes of 25th or better in three of his four appearances. His success may depend heavily on how far the bass have made it toward the bank. A shallow event favors him, for sure.
Stetson Blaylock (15/1)
Benton, Arkansas
Blaylock had a strikingly consistent 2023 season, making all nine semifinal Top 50 cuts on his way to a 10th-place finish in the AOY standings. His Classic resume reads like this: third place at Lake Guntersville in 2020, 48th place at Lake Ray Roberts in 2021, third place at Lake Hartwell in 2022 and 30th place at Knoxville in 2023. The pattern says he’s due for a strong showing.
Lee Livesay (15/1)
Longview, Texas
Livesay has been one of the winningest anglers with B.A.S.S. since 2020, with three Elite Series wins and one Opens trophy. Two of his Elite wins came on his home lake, Lake Fork, and he broke the 100-pound mark for a Century Club belt both times. Like much of the field, he has no experience in major B.A.S.S. events on Grand, but his three previous Classic appearances resulted in finishes of eighth, 11th and 15th. He would be much further up the list for a late-spring/early-summer event that would allow him to feature his two biggest strengths of frogging and topwater fishing. But he’s a threat in any event he fishes.
Tyler Rivet (15/1)
Raceland, Louisiana
Rivet had a breakout season in 2023, finishing ninth in the AOY race and recording his first Elite win at Lake Okeechobee. He did some amazing things with forward-facing sonar — from assembling the winning bag at the Big O catching prespawn bass on a jerkbait to identifying fry guarders in postspawn events. If the fish are positioned shallow, Rivet could take the next big step toward evolving into one of the sport’s brightest stars.
John Cox (16/1)
DeBary, Florida
Someday the field of competitors is going to show up for a Classic to find all the bass in 3 feet of water or less. When that happens, this free-spirited shallow-water guru from the Sunshine State will instantly become the man to beat. Cox has fished five previous Classics, and his best finish (fifth place) occurred last year at Knoxville. He has fished one major event with B.A.S.S. on Grand, placing 26th in an Open in 2019.
Drew Benton (16/1)
Panama City, Florida
It certainly didn’t seem like Benton needed redemption on the Bassmaster Elite Series, but the Florida pro said he felt like he got it last year when he earned his second career Elite victory — and first in five years — at South Carolina’s Lake Murray. The win was the highlight of a season that saw Benton make the semifinal Top 50 in seven of the nine regular-season events. A Classic win might be more likely for Benton if the event was a bit later so he could show off his masterful sight-fishing skills. But he’s still versatile enough to win without fish on bed.
Joey Nania (17/1)
Cropwell, Alabama
Since the Elite Series was founded almost two decades ago, no angler has won the Classic without qualifying through the Elite Series AOY standings. So, that makes the odds longer for every non-Elite qualifier. But this isn’t Nania’s first Classic rodeo. He finished 13th in the 2022 event after qualifying by winning an Open on Alabama’s Pickwick Lake. He qualified for this year’s Classic by winning the Open on Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula, meaning he has a major victory in the Sooner State more recently than any angler in the field.
Bryant Smith (18/1)
Roseville, California
Though he isn’t one of the most outspoken anglers on the Elite Series, his record speaks for itself with seven top 30 finishes in only 16 career events with B.A.S.S. He made the Saturday cut in six of nine Elites last year with Top 10s at Santee Cooper Lakes in South Carolina and Lake Champlain in New York. This is his first Classic appearance, which always gives me pause when I’m trying to pick a favorite.
Shane LeHew (19/1)
Catawba, North Carolina
LeHew is another who’s quietly put together an excellent resume, scoring 21 top 30 finishes in only 52 events with B.A.S.S. But the Classic hasn’t been particularly kind to him. In four tries, he’s finished 28th, 53rd, 50th and 43rd. The upward trajectory of his career says it’s just a matter of time before he has his breakout on the big stage.
Cooper Gallant (25/1)
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Gallant is a budding star on the Bassmaster Elite Series with 12 top 30 finishes in 23 events. He also finished last season with excellent momentum, placing fourth, 18th and 18th in the final three events. But he’s anything but a Classic veteran, with one appearance (in 2023) that produced a 52nd-place finish.
Justin Hamner (25/1)
Northport, Alabama
With five top 20s in his final six events, Hamner managed a 21st-place finish in the AOY standings and qualified for his second Classic. There were times throughout the 2023 season when he showed he can be as good as anyone with LiveScope and a jerkbait. So, he’s another one to watch if a prespawn Scoping event develops. He finished fourth in his initial trip to the big show at Hartwell in 2022.
Clark Wendlandt (25/1)
Leander, Texas
At 58 years old, Wendlandt is the senior competitor in the event, but doubt him at your own risk. Remember, he was crowned Bassmaster Angler of the Year less than four years ago, and that’s just one checkmark on a long list of career accomplishments. In 141 events with B.A.S.S., he has 27 Top 10 finishes and $827,791 in career earnings. During his time away from B.A.S.S., he was a three-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year, with 40 top 10 finishes, four wins and 17 appearances in the Forrest Wood Cup. He has five previous Classic appearances, with a high-water mark of 11th in 1998.
Cody Huff (30/1)
Ava, Missouri
Huff’s season was a bit of a roller coaster, as he made the first three semifinal cuts on the Elite Series, missed three in a row in the middle and then rebounded to make the final three at the end. The fact that his three best finishes came on Lake St. Clair (20th place), Lake Champlain (third place) and the St. Lawrence River (14th place) — all fisheries where deep-water abilities come into play — speaks to the kind of tournament that would suit him at Grand. His lone trip to Grand for the 2021 Open resulted in an eighth-place finish, and in two previous trips to the Classic he finished 24th and 36th.
Taku Ito (30/1)
Chiba, Japan
Ito solidified his Classic berth with a strong finish in 2023, placing third at Lake St. Clair, 30th at Lake Champlain and fourth at the St. Lawrence River. He’s a master at catching deep fish with forward-facing sonar and at finding subtle patterns the rest of the field has overlooked — all of which could come largely into play in an event like the Classic. Ito also seems to smile biggest during the times when the pressure is the worst. That’s another trait that screams “Classic champion.”
Brock Mosley (30/1)
Collinsville, Mississippi
After racking up five second-place finishes during his first seven years on the Elite Series, Mosley finally broke through with his first career victory at the Sabine River in 2023. Mosley placed 40th in his first Classic trip in 2020, but he’s since turned in respectable finishes of fifth, 21st and 20th. In two trips to Grand Lake, he placed 26th in the 2018 Elite Series event and fifth in the 2021 Open. If things are tough, Mosley could be a major factor.
Carl Jocumsen (35/1)
Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
We’ve had a Japanese Classic winner and a Canadian Classic winner. Why not an Australian winner? Jocumsen is another of those anglers who likes to throw big baits — can’t you just hear him say the word glide with that Australian accent? — and invests loads of time in getting a few big bites. That’s a dangerous strategy, but one that could pay off big in the Classic if things go right. He started his 2023 season like a man on a mission, making four straight semifinal cuts. But he stumbled to the finish line, missing four of the final five with finishes of 62nd, 93rd, 72nd, 27th and 87th. He finished 46th in his one trip to Grand for an Open in 2021 and 39th in his only Classic appearance, last year in Knoxville.
Paul Mueller (35/1)
Naugatuck, Connecticut
Mueller is making a return to the Classic after missing the big show the last two years. He earned his Classic berth because he rebounded from a tough start to make the final six Elite Series semifinal cuts. Now, he’ll bring a wealth of experience and a history of success to the Classic for his fifth appearance. In four previous tries at the big trophy, Mueller finished second, 12th, 52nd and 20th. A deep-water event would seem to suit him, but history says he’s a threat no matter how the fish set up.
Ben Milliken (35/1)
New Caney, Texas
The nine tournaments Milliken fished in the Opens EQ Division last year are the only ones he’s fished with B.A.S.S. — and though he had some rough finishes, he earned one of the nine Bassmaster Elite Series berths because he had a third-place and a fifth-place finish to go along with the season-opening victory on Toledo Bend that gave him his Classic berth. His all-or-nothing attitude — along with his affinity for chasing big bass with big swimbaits — make him a real threat in a tournament like this.
Adam Rasmussen (40/1)
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
One of the top walleye guides in the country, Rasmussen has jumped into the bass fishing game with both feet in recent years, qualifying for this Classic by winning the Open last year on Alabama’s Lake Wheeler. He’s already gotten off to a good start this year, winning the B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula in February.
Easton Fothergill (50/1)
Grand Rapids, Minnesota
I mentioned karma points earlier with Brandon Card because of the adversity he overcame just to get to the Classic, and Fothergill should have his share of points banked as well. A little over a month after having surgery to remove an infected abscess on his brain, Fothergill qualified for the Classic by winning the Bassmaster College Classic Bracket presented by Lew’s. Like most young anglers these days, he’s a whiz with forward-facing sonar — and I truly believe that electronics element will eventually lead a college angler to a big finish in this event.
Pat Schlapper (50/1)
Eleva, Wisconsin
Schlapper is another angler who could benefit heavily from a prespawn tournament where LiveScope comes into play. But he has lots to prove in the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing after finishes of 45th in 2021 at Fort Worth and 53rd last year in Knoxville.
Hunter Shryock (50/1)
Ooltewah, Tennessee
Shryock has had an impressive career with B.A.S.S. In 92 events, he’s made the top 30 more than a third of the time, and he’s earned $533,586. But his only trip to Grand — for the 2018 Elite Series event — resulted in a 59th-place finish, and his three previous trips to the Classic produced finishes of 25th, 26th and 29th.
Austin Felix (60/1)
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Felix enjoyed a solid 2023 season with five top 20s in nine events, and he’s making his fourth trip to the Classic. But the Northern smallmouth specialist has struggled in the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, finishing 39th, 40th and 22nd.
David Gaston (60/1)
Sylacauga, Alabama
Gaston slipped into the Classic as an Elite rookie when fellow Alabamian Will Davis Jr. double-qualified. Now Gaston will take to the Classic stage for the first time with five major Top 10s to his credit — and no major experience with B.A.S.S. on Grand.
Cole Sands (60/1)
Calhoun, Tennessee
After a rough start in his first-ever Elite Series event last year at Okeechobee, Sands got his legs under him quickly and finished 47th, 19th, 38th, 23rd, 47th and 36th in the final six tournaments of the season to sneak into the Classic. This is Sands’ first trip to the Classic, and a first-time Classic competitor hasn’t won the event since 2007.
Kyle Patrick (70/1)
Cooperstown, New York
Patrick fished his way through the rigorous Bassmaster Opens EQ slate last year to earn a berth on the Bassmaster Elite Series. Along the way, he earned his first Classic appearance with a win on Lake of the Ozarks. He’s made one trip to Grand with B.A.S.S., finishing 68th in an Open in 2021.
Justin Barnes (75/1)
Ellaville, Georgia
Barnes qualified by winning the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Alabama’s Lake Eufaula. That’s one of four tournaments he’s ever fished with B.A.S.S. — all Opens — and Opens simply don’t compare to the frenetic electricity of the Classic. He’s proven himself a good angler. Now he’ll have to learn on the fly to manage the chaos of fishing’s biggest event.
Tyler Williams (75/1)
Belgrade, Maine
Williams has been fishing Opens with B.A.S.S. since 2021, and in 21 career events he’s managed four Top 10s. This is his first trip to the Classic.
Powell Kemp (80/1)
Scotland Neck, North Carolina
Kemp has fished 14 career tournaments with B.A.S.S., and the Open he won at Buggs Island to qualify for the Classic was his very first Top 30.
Matt Messer (80/1)
Warfield, Kentucky
Messer has fished 10 events with B.A.S.S., earning his first Classic appearance with a win at Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes in last year’s regular-season finale.
Tim Dube (100/1)
Nashua, New Hampshire
Since only one angler from the B.A.S.S. Nation (or Federation, as it was once known) has ever won the Classic, the odds are obviously slim. But with anglers from all walks of life becoming better and more seasoned, it’s just a matter of time before it happens again — and Dube has the jig-fishing skills to make a run.
Josh Wiesner (100/1)
Fon du Lac, Wisconsin
The other true qualifier from the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship — Elite Series pro Will Davis Jr. finished first in the event as the defending champion — Wiesner has more walleye trophies to his credit than bass hardware. But his list of bass fishing titles is impressive, including the 2023 B.A.S.S. Nation Wisconsin State Championship and the 2023 B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional title — both on Lake Winnebago.
Aaron Yavorsky (150/1)
Palm Harbor, Florida
Though I’m sure Yavorsky will feel pressure during the biggest event of his life, he really shouldn’t. In so many ways, he’s already won. He made history by winning the 2023 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-Off and becoming the youngest angler ever to qualify for the Classic, at age 17. That feat will make him the answer to trivia questions for years to come. But now he’s making the same quantum leap that every Team Championship representative has made since the event was created as a path to the Classic for regular everyday anglers in back 2014. The average finish for the nine previous Team Championship qualifiers was 41st place, with a 26th-place showing by Thomas Martens in 2016 still standing as the best of the bunch.