LAKE FORK, Texas — After record-setting attendance numbers at the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, B.A.S.S. officials announced a yearlong celebration of the fans who make professional bass fishing so special.
Since then, the “Year of the Fan” has been gaining momentum at each Bassmaster Elite Series event with an Outdoors Expo that puts fans center stage and gives them a chance to meet and greet their favorite Elite Series pros.
That celebration will hit another gear during the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, with a live performance by country music star Chris Knight.
The tournament will run Thursday through Monday, and the Bassmaster Outdoors Expo will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Knight, whose most recent album, “Little Victories,” reached No. 25 on the Billboard Country charts, will perform beginning at 4:15 p.m. Saturday. Knight kicks off the Mercury Concert Series, which will also provide live music at Bassmaster Elite Series events at Lake Guntersville, Alabama; St. Lawrence River, New York; Cayuga Lake, New York; and Lake St. Clair, Michigan.
“As people saw during the Elite Series events at Lake Hartwell and Winyah Bay in April, the Year of the Fan celebration is aimed at making sure our supporters have the time of their lives at our tournaments,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Top-notch live entertainment will only add to the experience.”
In addition to performing popular singles like “Cry Lonely” and “In the Meantime,” Knight is an accomplished songwriter who has penned hits like "Love at 90 Miles an Hour" for Ty Herndon and "She Couldn't Change Me" for Montgomery Gentry.
His 90-minute performance will add more spice to an Elite Series “Fandamonium” celebration that also includes boat demo rides, prize giveaways, autograph sessions, angler seminars, food vendors and more.
As part of the Texas Fest celebration, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) will have a major presence at the Outdoors Expo with aquariums, casting and fly-tying instruction, fish art and multiple children’s activities. TPWD will also be honoring five Toyota ShareLunker Legacy Anglers who caught and donated bass that weighed 13 pounds or more to the organization’s selective breeding program in 2019.
Get Hooked on Fishing presented by Toyota, Shakespeare and TakeMeFishing.org will provide an interactive fishing experience for children with casting lessons, a fishing pond and a chance to meet the pros.
TPWD will also induct Alan Haynes of Tyler, former CEO and president of The Sportster Inc. retail sporting goods chain, into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in ceremonies Saturday at Texas Fest. A lifelong sportsman, Haynes is being honored for his efforts to engage people in fishing.
Fans who’d like to get a little exercise during the event can participate in the “Run Your Dam Bass Off” 5-mile run at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Registration is open at lakeforkchamber.org for $25.
As for the actual competition, a full field of 75 anglers will compete Thursday and Friday on Lake Fork. The anglers will take a break from fishing on Saturday to participate in the off-the-water festivities, and the Top 35 will advance to the semifinal round on Sunday. Only the Top 10 will advance to Championship Monday with a chance at the $100,000 first-place prize.
Daily takeoffs will be at 7 a.m. CT from Sabine River Authority, which is located at 353 PR 5183 in Quitman, Texas. Weigh-ins will be held at the same location each day at 3 p.m.
Local hosts for the tournament and corresponding events will be the Wood County Industrial Commission, Emory Tourism, Quitman EDC, Sabine River Authority and the Lake Fork Chamber of Commerce.
All events are free, except the 5-mile run.