Roughly three months out from bass fishing's biggest event, the full field for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic was finalized Saturday after Jeff Coble of Beaufort, N.C., punched the final ticket by winning the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship Operated by American Bass Anglers. The 50 Bassmaster Classic competitors will face off Feb. 22-24, 2008 on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C.
Other than Coble and Boyd Duckett, who qualified on the strength of his 2007 Bassmaster Classic victory, the other 48 competitors earned their berths through one of three avenues: the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens or the BASS Federation Nation Championship.
"This is the ultimate championship event in professional bass fishing," said Trip Weldon, BASS director of tournaments. "All of these anglers are top-notch competitors who persevered through difficult roads to get to this point."
According to BASS rules, Lake Hartwell will become off-limits to Bassmaster Classic participants Dec. 15. Anglers will get another crack at the fishery during the official practice period, set for Feb. 12-14, and a final look Feb. 20.
The competition will feature daily launches at 7:15 a.m. ET Friday through Sunday at Portman Marina. Daily weigh-ins will take place at Greenville's Bi-Lo Center at 3:30 p.m. ET. The 2008 Classic will be hosted by Greenville Convention & Visitor's Bureau.
The tournament will receive 11 ½ hours of television coverage on ESPN2 during the three-day event. The full list of qualifiers arranged alphabetically can be found below.
Sponsors of the event include Toyota Tundra, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Purolator, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics and MotorGuide.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at 407-566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com/Classic.
2008 Bassmaster Classic Contenders
1. Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.
2. Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C.
3. Mike Baskett, Salem, Oreg.
4. Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla.
5. Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark.
6. Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kansas
7. Jeff Coble, Beaufort, N.C.
8. John Crews, Salem, Va.
9. Boyd Duckett, Demopolis, Ala.
10. Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla.
11. Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas
12. Jeff Freeman, Max Meadows, Va.
13. Jay Fuller, Kingston, Okla.
14. Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La.
15. Brent Haimes, Mazeppa, Minn.
16. Charlie Hartley, Grove City, Ohio
17. Timmy Horton, Muscle Shoals, Ala.
18. Mike Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J.
19. Alton Jones, Waco, Texas
20. Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas
21. Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala.
22. Kotaro Kiriyama, Moody, Ala.
23. Gary Klein, Weathford, Texas
24. Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla.
25. Jamie Laiche, Gonzales, La.
26. Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla.
27. Chris Lane, Winter Haven, Fla.
28. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Calif.
29. Chris Loftus, Bloomfield, N.Y.
30. Aaron Martens, Leeds, Ala.
31. Mike McClelland, Bella Vista, Ark.
32. Ish Monroe, Hughson, Calif.
33. John Murray, Phoenix, Ariz.
34. Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas
35. Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss.
36. Clark Reehm, Russellville, Ark.
37. Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif.
38. Derek Remitz, Madison, Ala.
39. Scott Rook, Little Rock, Ark.
40. Fred Roumbanis, Auburn, Calif.
41. Terry Scroggins, Palatka, Fla.
42. Kevin Short, Mayflower, Ark.
43. Matthew Sphar, Pavilion, N.Y.
44. Gerald Swindle, Hayden, Ala.
45. Peter Thliveros, Jacksonville, Fla.
46. Richard Watson, Plattekloof, S. Africa
47. Kevin Wirth, Crestwood, Ky.
48. Dave Wolak, Wake Forrest, N.C.
49. Mike Wurm, Hot Springs, Ark.
50. Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.