Click here to continue 1 / 55 Houston, the eagles are landing. The Bassmaster crews were converging on Space City for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. In Huntsville, some of the crew passed a 67-foot statue of Sam Houston, a Texas soldier then politician who helped establish the state around the time of the Alamo. Houston won an 18-minute battle over Mexico’s Santa Anna in La Porte, Texas, not far from Johnson Space Center. Photo: Mike Suchan 2 / 55 First stop on Monday was Lakeview Marina on Lake Conroe to check out the boatyard where the competitors launched for weekend practice. Ish Monroe was there, saying big fish had been hit and miss, and that the lake has rough, especially with spring break bringing 1,000 boats on the water. Conroe stays choppy on much of the lower end because wakes bounce off walls, giving it a washing machine effect. Here are the tools of the trade from one of the experts who work on Elite anglers' boats. Photo: Mike Suchan 3 / 55 Those tools were handy as the crew just finished rewiring some of Bobby Lane’s electronics. The service crews are behind-the-scenes mechanics and specialists who don’t get a lot of credit, but they are an angler’s lifeline and best friend when stuff goes wrong. Photo: Mike Suchan 4 / 55 Bassmaster.com reporters Steve Wright and Mike Suchan came upon this luna moth in a Conroe grocery store parking lot before heading to Tuesday’s registration. Encounters with this species are considered rare, and as such, a web site espousing moth symbolism said a sighting can bring certain fortunes, like success against foes. A luna moth's life span is one week, and they can’t eat, living only to reproduce. So let’s go with the sighting as simply a portend we would be at the Classic a week and see beautiful things. Photo: Mike Suchan 5 / 55 From the lake to downtown Houston we went, checking in at the new Marriot Marquis with connecting bridge to the George R. Brown Convention Center, our morning workplace each day of the event. This is a Texas-shaped Lazy River atop the sixth floor, and part of Discovery Green, with kayaks on the pond and a roller skating rink on the left. Photo: Mike Suchan 6 / 55 The anglers are congregating for the official B.A.S.S. registration. The hotel also was hosting a worldwide conference on oil, with folks from China, the Middle East, South America and other far-flung spots walking by in suits, speaking in foreign tongues and meeting in a huge ballroom next door for lunch. Photo: Mike Suchan 7 / 55 JM cameramen Wes Miller (left) and Ben Oliver, along with Carey Barrett (not pictured), film Jared Lintner with the green screen background. The video was for use during the weigh-ins and possibly Bassmaster TV shows. Photo: Mike Suchan 8 / 55 Shaw Grigsby is among the dozen or so anglers asked to transport back to their home planets through this portal -- no, that’s just a fancy camera. Shaw’s just doing an interview before the Classic. My idea was cooler, though. Photo: Mike Suchan 9 / 55 Trip Weldon begins the official Classic meeting, going over the rules for the 52 competitors. One local law to follow was no driving at more than an idle speed when 100 feet of another vessel, dock or anything. At least eight patrol boats would be on the water. The anglers also were briefed on how best to handle entering any 13-pound or larger fish into Texas’ famous ShareLunker program. There was that possibility, but no bass weighing more than 10 pounds was caught. Photo: Mike Suchan 10 / 55 Aaron Martens, John Garrett and Gerald Swindle go through the Mercury booth in the gifting suite, where anglers made off with sacks of new goodies from a bunch of B.A.S.S. sponsors. Photo: Mike Suchan 11 / 55 B.A.S.S. sponsors give the competitors enough to fill multiple bags. Cliff Crochet shows off his SWAG (Stuff We All Get) to photographer James Overstreet. Photo: Mike Suchan 12 / 55 Even the anglers’ wives scored. Here Drew Benton picks out a Rustic Cuff bracelet for his wife, Amanda, with the help of Toyota Trucks Bonus Bucks’ Kendell Callaway Mooney. She helped a number of anglers decide which design their wife/girlfriend might like. Photo: Mike Suchan 13 / 55 Over at the George R. Brown Convention Center, work begins for the Bassmaster Classic Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. There was more than 300,000 square feet of space filled by a record number of exhibitors. The reflection, from the B.A.S.S. offices on the second floor, is of a furiously typing David Lipke, a producer of Bassmaster LIVE, getting his facts lined up for the show. Photo: Mike Suchan 14 / 55 The Classic weigh-ins were to be held at the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park. Hard plastic boards were laid down on the small areas of grass that the Classic needed for the drive-through weigh-ins. With a game in several days, the Astros were adamant their grass not be disturbed. B.A.S.S. gave employees and anglers strict instructions to stay off the grass. Photo: Mike Suchan 15 / 55 This scribe worked with turf experts at a golf course in one of his first jobs, and could certainly understand. The infield grass, confirmed to be one of those special blends (Seashore Paspalum, Platinum TE), was like the collar of a golf green. (I could imagine a huge divot). It’s special because it can take the Houston heat and time under the roof. Gerald Swindle thought it looked like the grass at Wimbledon, and joked it was the world’s largest tennis court. Photo: Mike Suchan 16 / 55 A crew works on a stage that will allow the anglers to drive around the warning track, get off their boat and head down a walkway between fans in a splash zone to the scales between third and second base. Later that night, Gerald Swindle gave a moving speech for winning his second Toyota Angler of the Year title in 2016 at the Night of Champions banquet. (Sat too far away for a decent shot, plus we’ll see him later). Photo: Mike Suchan 17 / 55 Early Wednesday morning, tournament director Trip Weldon oversees boat parking as B.A.S.S. lined up the anglers in order of their Day 1 start in a dress rehearsal. Fog delayed the run-through for some time. Photo: Mike Suchan 18 / 55 Kevin VanDam takes the time to do several product videos with Alan McGuckin of Dynamic Sponsorships during the delay. KVD was vying for a record fifth Classic title. Photo: Mike Suchan 19 / 55 Julia Kennedy gives husband, Steve, a good luck kiss as he will soon head out for the final day of practice. The Kennedy children, Sophia and SJ, check out the activity on the water as Kennedy’s father, Van, a Classic competitor in the 1980s, catches up. Kennedy would vie for the title and fall just 1 pound, 9 ounces short. Photo: Mike Suchan 20 / 55 Bassmaster TV’s Davy Hite is ready to roll with local favorite Keith Combs of Huntington for the final practice. Hite came away amazed as the number of spots Combs had in his electronic waypoints. Combs has won other major events on the lake, but not at this time of year. Photo: Mike Suchan 21 / 55 Back in Houston, all roads and a lot of signage leads to Minute Maid Park. In Conroe, there was a billboard with 2016 champ Edwin Evers to promote this Classic along with other signage, but the downtown sidewalks had these signs mixed with GEICO Geckos from quite a distance all the way to the park. Photo: Mike Suchan 22 / 55 GEICO is the naming sponsor of the Classic, and workers put up a huge banner on fencing near the ball park. Houston is a true international city, so many folks walking around downtown had no idea what the Bassmaster Classic was, but many were amazed to learn about it and that someone would be leaving $300,000 richer. Photo: Mike Suchan 23 / 55 The stage is taking shape, with a big screen rivaling the height of the one B.A.S.S. was allowed to use by the Astros. “El Grande” is a 54-foot-high by 124-feet-wide jumbotron that’s the fourth largest in MLB. The two screens played in sync during weigh-ins. Photo: Mike Suchan 24 / 55 Tony Cachere (left) provides lunch for Media Day, when credentialed media visited with anglers on the eve of competition. Helping Tony, who competes in Opens, hold a spicy shrimp dish is his corporate chef, Jude Tauzin. Photo: Mike Suchan 25 / 55 Alton Jones grabbed all the B.A.S.S. Times magazines from his table as he and son, Alton Jones Jr., were featured as the cover article. The Joneses became the fifth father/son to compete in the same Classic. Dad has a Classic title to his credit, and if Alton Jr. wins one, they would follow Guido and Dion Hibdon as the second father/son with titles. Photo: Mike Suchan 26 / 55 A tour of the cavernous baseball park left this lost reporter on the inside looking out (from a stairwell) as the anglers in their boats line up on the street, where media were conducting interviews. Photo: Mike Suchan 27 / 55 Mark Zona stops an interview with Todd Faircloth to pose for a shot. Zona was trying to get the inside scoop on what exactly was going on at Lake Conroe so he could report on Bassmaster LIVE. Photo: Mike Suchan 28 / 55 Tommy Sanders, Davy Hite and Mark Zona go through a rehearsal for Bassmaster LIVE early on Day 1, well before the 7 a.m. CT air time. Photo: Mike Suchan 29 / 55 Jerry McKinnis was a common site at the B.A.S.S. booth, where he could keep an eye on things, specifically Bassmaster LIVE. He watched the action intently, greeted many fans, including one from El Paso working for bass fishing productions in Mexico. Cheo Carillo, wearing an Enigma jersey, was polite yet bold in asking for interviews of the crew. Photo: Mike Suchan 30 / 55 As the crowds lined up to get into the Classic Expo, our roving reporter skipped out on the last seconds of the morning live broadcast to capture longtime B.A.S.S. Editor in Chief Dave Precht take the escalator up to the temporary office. Precht has worked 40 of the 47 Classics, and said his first was the most memorable. Photo: Mike Suchan 31 / 55 Back in the Expo, Greg Vinson might be on Conroe fishing if he ran into more of these during the 2016 Elite season. Vinson was working the DICK’S Sporting Goods booth that had a huge fish tank serving as a wall. Photo: Mike Suchan 32 / 55 This is Shaun Boyle, who met this reporter at the TTBC at Lake Ray Roberts last year, and we began conversing on the internet. Boyle only got interested in bass fishing about three years ago, and as you can see, has totally immersed himself in the sport. He goes to events, angler seminars and fishes from a kayak mostly. Photo: Mike Suchan 33 / 55 The stage is ready for Day 1. B.A.S.S. had the issue of a bank of windows in left field eliminating its normal light shows. It also was not allowed to blow confetti in a MLB park either, but there were pyrotechnics. Photo: Mike Suchan 34 / 55 Bobby Lane holds his fish under a rather impressive graphic of him on the water, his name up in lights along with his signature. He had a decent first day, finishing 18th with 16-0. He ended up eighth. Photo: Mike Suchan 35 / 55 The big stick on Day 1 was Brent Ehrler, who weighed the biggest bag at 23-8. Ehrler pretty much hit it out of the ball park with the Berkley Big Bass of the tournament at 9-12. Ott DeFoe came close with a 9-9 on Day 3 and Skylar Hamilton had a 9-1 for Day 2’s biggest fish. Photo: Mike Suchan 36 / 55 Even more folks seemed to line up for Sunday’s Expo. Anglers who missed the Top 25 cut joined pros who didn’t qualify and other legends of the sport in sponsor booths. It was prime autograph day. Photo: Mike Suchan 37 / 55 A big Classic trophy sat out in the lobby, inviting folks like Billy Champagne, son Billy Jr. and daughter Anna to pose. They came from Gonzales, La., and didn’t personally know Greg Hackney or Ryan Lavigne, who also hail from the Louisiana town. Photo: Mike Suchan 38 / 55 The B.A.S.S. booth, with several big screens showing Bassmaster LIVE that was being videoed right behind these folks, drew several hundred viewers at times. Photo: Mike Suchan 39 / 55 Dave Mercer went over to the Nitro booth to interview Nick Dulleck, an angler from San Jose, Calif., who caught the potential IGFA world record spotted bass from New Bullard’s Bar Reservoir this winter. Photo: Mike Suchan 40 / 55 Ho, ho, ho. What has Santa brought the Zona’s? Why it’s a little bund … naw, ain’t playing that no more. Jim James, who actually plays Santa practically everywhere he goes (notice the red shirt), gets the business from Mark and Karin Zona. Photo: Mike Suchan 41 / 55 The GEICO Gecko entertains fans waiting for the ball park’s doors to open. People were lined up all the way around two sides of the building. Photo: Mike Suchan 42 / 55 Saturday’s crowd almost filled up the third base side of Minute Maid Park, and folks threw packets into the stands that included gift cards from DICK’S Sporting Goods. Photo: Mike Suchan 43 / 55 Jordan Lee, who had only three fish on Day 1, came in with Saturday’s biggest bag, although it was one shy of a limit. His best pitch was yet to come. He hoped to take the mound on Championship Sunday and throw a shutout against those ahead of him, racking up Ks (kilograms) in the process. He caught 12.36 kilos of bass on Day 3, but it doesn't sound as impressive as 12 Ks in baseball. Lee would go the distance and earn the "W." Photo: Mike Suchan 44 / 55 Lee wasn’t among the top six anglers after Day 2 who were in a news conference led by Bassmaster magazine editor James Hall. Brent Ehrler, Dave Lefebre, Edwin Evers, Mike Iaconelli, James Elam and Bradley Roy all did not have the Day 3 they had hoped. Photo: Mike Suchan 45 / 55 Just outside the expo was the Shell Bassmaster Get Hooked on Fishing presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors. Jaylee, 3, and Joseph Maughon, 5, of Killeen, Texas, mug for a moment as they try their hand at the fishing pond where catfish were being caught. Photo: Mike Suchan 46 / 55 Another of the more popular expo attractions, for young and old, at the expo was the buckin’ bass at a DICK’S Sporting Goods booth. Tyler Charron, 10, of Inez, Texas, does his best to hold on to the spinning, gyrating fish, which had folks lined up to try. (Go to Facebook to watch Fred Roumbanis give it a whirl, literally.) Photo: Mike Suchan 47 / 55 Here’s one of the last shots of Gerald Swindle with his beard. He’s grown it since just after he won his second Toyota Angler of the Year title last fall, but he allowed tournament emcee Dave Mercer to begin the shearing process on Bassmaster LIVE. Swindle and friend Luke Dunkin conducted a beard war to raise funds in the fight against cancer, accumulating more than $10,000. Photo: Mike Suchan 48 / 55 Here’s some of the good folks who kept the media well-fed in the Astros’ Diamond Club. Servers Dwayne Williams and Tishiqua Hardison flank supervisor Tralane Cardona on fajita night, including beef and chicken and all types of fixings. (Go for the guacamole.) The club prepares all types of food for ticket holders of the plush cushioned seats behind home plate. Pricy? If you have to ask you can't afford it.(And neither can I -- $475 a seat). Photo: Mike Suchan 49 / 55 Jordan Lee gets interviewed by a crowd in the media room after taking the lead but before the Super Six was revealed. His 27-4 had the entire stadium buzzing. Photo: Mike Suchan 50 / 55 James Elam runs out from the third-base dugout and greets all the other competitors who did not make the Super Six. The anglers came out like ball players being introduced for an All-Star or playoff game. Photo: Mike Suchan 51 / 55 Jordan Lee sits down in the press conference room, still somewhat in disbelief, to tell reporters his thoughts on winning the 47th Bassmaster Classic and how he did it. He rambled on stage a bit -- he did shock himself -- but his thoughts were more coherent in the press room. Photo: Mike Suchan 52 / 55 Leigh Lee, Jordan’s mother, kisses the new baby in the family. She was responsible for taking Jordan and older brother Matt fishing a lot in their youth and said it sure did pay off. During a launch at the 2014 Guntersville Classic, she told embarrassing stories of her boys and pointed across the lake to where Matt and Jordan most likely attained their love of fishing. Photo: Mike Suchan 53 / 55 Jordan’s family jumps in for a trophy shot, including Matt, his father, Bruce (yes, his name is Bruce Lee and mom is Leigh Lee) and girlfriend Kristen Agnew. They’re all smiling now but there were tears of joy earlier. Photo: Mike Suchan 54 / 55 Jordan carries the trophy through the bowels of Minute Maid Park, with the Champion's Toast coming up on the list of to-dos, while Kristen responds to well-wishers. Lee already had well over 200 people contact him in some fashion. Photo: Mike Suchan 55 / 55 The author had Jordan pose in front of this photo hanging in the Astros media area, hoping for baseball inspiration to write something clever -- Joe Lee tagged out 12 (weighing 56-10) before his come-from-behind, walk-off homer. Eh, send along better. Photo: Mike Suchan Daily Limit author Mike Suchan, aka "The Sooch," takes a look at the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods from going to leaving.