Show up for the big show

By now, you've heard enough solid reasons to attend the Bassmaster Classic later this month in New Orleans that you don't need another reason from me. What I will say, however, is that (a) you should be there, and (b) it is unlike anything you've ever experienced …

if you have never attended in the past. I attended my first Classic in 2002, the year Jay Yelas won the event on Lay Lake by swimming a jig around shallow shoreline cover. Because it was a new experience for me, a newspaper journalist covering it for my paper's sports section, everything seemed significant. I loved seeing the anglers enter the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex arena as their favorite song blared over the loudspeakers.

I remember the hair on the back of my neck standing up as I imagined myself being wheeled around the arena as I sat in my boat, waving at the crowd, smiling, listening to my favorite song (Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive"). It was a surreal moment. Then, being back in the media center, it was awe-inspiring to see KVD being interviewed by the likes of the late Tim Tucker. I can still remember Tucker asking KVD what it would feel like to miss the cut. (Yelas led wire-to-wire and never really had a strong challenger.)

I didn't know a lot about KVD at the time, but the look of intensity on his face that day is one that I still recognize. When I wasn't in the media room, I was walking the floor of the Expo, which, corny as it sounds, is really like being a kid in a candy store.

I think you'll find the same at this year's Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick's Sporting Goods, which will be held in the Ernest Morial Convention Center. There, you'll get to see all of the latest and best products the industry has to offer. Whether it's T-shirts, lures, line or accessories that tickle your fancy, it's there ... in droves.

As a diehard lover of tackle, my biggest problem is lingering — spending far too much time in one spot. I want to learn everything I can about a product, fiddle around with it, then spend long moments imagining how I might use it to make me a better angler. You can do the same, and it's free. All you need to do is show up.

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