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2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro

Preview

TAKEOFF

GRAND LAKE O' THE CHEROKEES

Wolf Creek Park (map)
963 N. 16th Street
Grove OK 74344

Takeoff daily at 7:00 a.m. CT
 On-the-water boat demo rides at the Grand Lake launch site courtesy of Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton & Yamaha (Fri. to Sun.)
Toyota will offer complimentary hot beverages for spectators. Show your Toyota key and receive a free gift. Disclaimer: while supplies last. 

 

OUTDOORS EXPO

100 Civic Center (map)
Tulsa, Okla. 74103

Admission to the expo is free.

Expo hours for general public:

Friday 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Sunday 10 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

Visit the Kevin VanDam booth to participate in his Fan To Fame challenge 2016! A once in a lifetime opportunity for backstage access, sponsor giveaways and non-stop Classic Excitement!

 

WEIGH-IN

BOK CENTER

200 South Denver Ave W (map)
Tulsa, Okla. 74103

Admission to the weigh-in is free.

Doors open at 3:15 p.m.

Tour Review

KVD can relate to Evers

Kevin VanDam said he can relate to Evers being called one of the best anglers to never win a Classic. While KVD won the first of his seven AOYs in 1992, it wasn’t until 2001 that he took his first Classic.

“The late Tim Tucker always asked, every year, ‘How’d it feel to not win?’ It was like driving a stake through your heart,” VanDam said. “And that’s the same thing for Edwin. He’s been really, really close multiple times.”

Including last year, when he became the first since VanDam to win two Elite events in a season. Martens then equaled him and pulled away for his third AOY. Being so close but so far is excruciatingly painful for the super competitive, like Vandam and Evers.

“I personally know Edwin really well, and there’s not many people in any sport who have the burning passion that he does to want to win,” KVD said. “All you can do is put yourself in position, which he has done multiple times, and eventually it’s going to happen. So, it’s not a surprise to me.

“He’s been fishing at an incredible high level – he deserves it.”

KVD on Bassmaster Live 2016 - Sunday morning!
KVD has his lucky cookies for power fishing day 2
KVD - day 2 Bassmaster Classic!
KVD with a flurry

We just got behind KVD as he hit a sizable pocket and in a flurry of casts covered the whole thing in less time than most of us could decide where to start.

He has three in the box and it was plain to see he was working hard to pick up his final two.

We noticed a few times when he would run back to his console for a quick glance. We only assume he was checking water temperature. All he would say was the "the fish aren't biting today."

The rest of his body language told us that he was unhappy with his day and certainly working as hard as he could to change the outcome.

Despite his poor performance he still has several boats (as in a dozen) following him. That's down from the 50 we saw him with this morning. Like us the hangers on are hoping to see some vintage KVD last-minute flurry.

--Steve Bowman

It's Game Day

KVD - 5:00 AM - Friday, March 4

 

 

If you are reading this on Friday, chances are I’m somewhere on Grand Lake kicking off my 25th Bassmaster Classic.

Believe me; I am just as jacked up as I was in 1991 when I fished my first on Chesapeake Bay. I may be more experienced and savvier as to how to juggle the Classic pressures, but I’m still jittery, excited and full of anticipation.

One of my biggest thrills has always been that first day at the launch on opening morning of the Bassmaster Classic. There’s the massive throng of fans who get up early to see us off, the lineup of all the awesome bass rigs and the pageantry that B.A.S.S. creates.

There’s only one Bassmaster Classic. Witnessing it is thrilling; being a competitor on opening day is exhilarating.

I may have even more butterflies today because I have grown to know just how special this moment is.

On the other hand, I have to stay focused, because every decision that I make in the coming hours will be pivotal to how successful I will be in the most important bass fishing event on earth.

As the old saying goes, you can’t win the Classic on the first day, but you can sure lose it if you don’t make the right decisions and stay in contention that first day.

We’re all ready to get down to business. Classic week has been crazy busy. In addition to a few days of practice, we’ve been in meetings, ceremonial dinners and spent all day yesterday conducting media interviews. The excitement level among the anglers, the participating marshals, sponsors and media has been over the top. Everyone knows this is shaping up to be a really great championship.

Although the weather is nice and should remain stable throughout the tournament, Mother Nature didn’t disappoint us by throwing a few curve balls at us when we arrived for practice.

Grand Lake endured a wet winter and the fishery hasn’t completely recovered. When I saw the water was dirty as I launched my Nitro Z-21 the first practice day, I thought this was going to be a shootout. But when my Humminbird graph showed the water temperature was in the low 40s, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I like stained water, but cold, dirty water can make the fishing more difficult.

And here’s the thing – the lake hasn’t warmed up that much despite the nice weather, due largely to the never-ending Oklahoma wind. The wind keeps rolling the cold, deep water to the surface, slowing the warm up. That really has made the bite more challenging than any of us expected.

But you know what? I welcome that challenge. You’re never too experienced to learn and I’ve been learning some things this week. This will be a tournament decided by the angler who is quick to adjust to ever-changing conditions, who executes properly each minute he’s on the water, and who produces consistent catches all three days. If I can do that, I can be in contention to hoist that trophy on the final day.

Tulsa is expecting record-size crowds at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo that opens today in the Cox Business Center and at the weigh-ins at the BOK Center. And with the great weather over Grand Lake, I also anticipate a record number of spectator boats on the water. Hopefully everyone will be patient, smart and safe while boating around the Classic contenders and enjoy the show.

For those who watch the tournament unfold through Bassmaster.com’s live coverage, I’ll have a cameraman in the boat with me for the early morning start. You’ll get to see my every move as it occurs, and hopefully, a lot of nice fish catches too!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Day 1 Start of the Bassmaster Classic!

KVD Checks in on day 1!

There's nothing like the Bassmaster Classic!

Nothing in fishing compares to the grandness of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.

Our Elite events are hugely important, but nothing compares to the Classic given the way it’s viewed by fans, the industry, the world and the anglers.

That’s why you see anglers who have had tremendous success with other major tours migrating to B.A.S.S. They know their careers aren’t complete until they qualify and compete in the greatest fishing event the world has seen.

I’ve been to every one since 1991 and competed in all except for last year, but I was a fan well before that. In my early years, I couldn’t wait for the TV coverage or my Bassmaster Magazine to see how it was won.

Obviously, times have changed with the Internet coverage and Bassmaster LIVE. You now can follow the tournament, know where anglers are fishing and see the excitement unfold the moment it happens.

But nothing compares to being there as a fan in the stands or as a competitor on the water.

This marks my 25th Classic since turning pro. I’ve been in the coliseum when every winner has been crowned and have been fortunate to win four of them. But even if I’m not standing on that podium, I get chills watching fellow competitors wrap their arms around that trophy. I can remember every one of those moments.

I was very excited when my friend Casey Ashley won last year because I knew how it would change his world. There is nothing like it.

Just ask my good friend Tommy Martin who won in 1974, well before we had television coverage. He will tell you it was a pivotal point in his career, as will everyone else who has ever won.

As life changing as winning a Classic can be, it doesn’t diminish the importance of doing well, especially for newcomers. Having a good showing at a Classic can make a big impact on anyone’s career in bass fishing.

Remember Paul Mueller, who qualified through the Federation ranks and finished second in the 2014 Classic and 12th in 2015? He made such a big impression with media and fans that he was able to springboard that into a Bassmaster Elite Series career.

In mainstream sports, there is no greater event than the NFL’s Super Bowl and that’s what the Classic means to all of fishing.

You can tell a rookie that, but until he experiences one he has no idea how special it is compared to all other fishing events.

I’ve never taken a Classic qualification for granted. It doesn’t matter if you are the last man to qualify for a Classic, it’s a huge accomplishment. When you think of all the avenues to get there – through the Elites, the Bassmaster Opens, the B.A.S.S. Nation, the Bassmaster College Series or the Bassmaster Team Championship – earning a berth in the Classic is everyone’s goal and dream.

It will be even more special for me this year since I didn’t qualify last year. It was extremely difficult to work as a TV analyst during last year’s first day blastoff, watching those guys go without me. And believe me, sitting out a year has made me want to win even more. To say I’m glad to be back is an understatement, but just being there isn’t enough. I want to be in contention the last day.

And I want to win.

If you’ve ever thought about attending a Classic, this is a good one to see. Tulsa is a great host, and while the city did a great job of handling the huge crowds when we were there in 2013, it will be even better prepared this time.

I expect this Classic to be monumental in a lot of ways. The competition will be fierce, the fans will be fired up and media coverage - including Bassmaster LIVE - will be massive.

But there is nothing like being in that coliseum when the champ is crowned. You have to be there to fully understand the magnitude of what this event means to the world of fishing.

There is nothing like it.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

--Kevin VanDam

How grand will Grand be for KVD?

When you look through Kevin VanDam’s tremendous list of fishing accomplishments, it’s tough to find any particular achievement that stands out over the others. There are a fair number of anglers who’ve won the Bassmaster Classic or the Angler of the Year (AOY) award, but few who’ve won both. Of those who’ve won both, fewer still have won multiples of either. Of course, KVD has several of each, with four Classic trophies and seven AOY titles to his credit.

He’s one of two anglers who has won consecutive Classics, and he holds the record for most consecutive AOY titles, with four. He has the two longest streaks of finishing in the money in Bassmaster history, the most victories, and he’s one of two who has won three consecutive Bassmaster events.  He even holds the record for consecutive limits, with 57. As a result of those accomplishments, he’s also the all-time money winner, with nearly twice as much in B.A.S.S. earnings as the next closest competitor.

Any of those accomplishments alone would be huge, but combined they’re almost insurmountable. Think of a pro like Paul Elias, who has fashioned a Hall of Fame career on the back of six wins; a Classic victory; the all-time four-day, five fish weight record; the popularization of the kneel-and-reel technique; and the introduction of the Alabama Rig to the fishing world at large. That’s monumental, yet it pales in comparison to what KVD has done.

The record that seems to get lost in all of these many accomplishments is that KVD also holds the record for the heaviest winning Classic weight of the five-fish limit era. In 2011, at the Louisiana Delta, he caught 69-11 over three days. The weight itself might not strike you as much at first, because these days we’re used to four-day Elite totals, but that’s an average of over 23 pounds a day, over 4.6 pounds per fish. In a four-day event, that would translate to nearly 93 pounds.

Granted, KVD’s weight in 2011 is not the heaviest weight in Classic history. Rick Clunn set that mark on the Arkansas River in 1984, with 75-09, but that was in the seven-fish limit era. His average fish weighed about a pound less. Granted, it’s apples and oranges in terms of waterways and times of year – KVD won in February and Clunn won in August – and Clunn’s winning margin of 25 pounds is truly remarkable, but that shouldn’t detract from what KVD accomplished, either. Fishing in a crowd, bumping boats with his competitors, not only did he break the record, but he smoked them all, beating runner up Aaron Martens by 10 pounds.

You might say that it was the waterway, or the time of year, that put him over the top, but again that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. No one else caught them that well on the Delta that year, nor have they even approached that in the other tournaments B.A.S.S. has held there. And yes, prior to 2006, the Classic was held in the heat of the summer, when weights are likely to be smaller, but since that time they’ve gone to Toho and Guntersville and Grand, no-fooling big fish factories, and it hasn’t been beaten. Randy Howell came close at Guntersville, falling short by a little over 2 pounds. Howell was one of nine anglers who eclipsed the 60-pound mark in that event. When KVD won in 2011, he was the only one over 60. That doesn’t give him bonus points, but it does underline just how incredible his catch was. Other than those two tournaments (and Clunn’s weight in 1984) no one has ever passed the 60 pound mark in Classic competition.

Pundits and fans are already saying that if things line up right this year at Grand, the record could be broken. Clearly the lake has the potential – both KVD and Mike McClelland have averaged just a hair under 4 pounds per fish in winning past summertime Elite Series events on Grand – but the leap from 4 to 4.6 is substantial, and when Cliff Pace won there in 2013 he was one of only two anglers to surpass the 50 pound mark. That’s a long mountain to climb to 69-plus.

I’m not saying that it won’t happen. In fact, regardless of who were to accomplish the feat, I’d love to be there to see it happen because it would make for a great spectacle, but I’m not going to hold my breath. If it was an easy task to accomplish, someone would have done it already.

Furthermore, if the record were to be broken, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if KVD were the one to accomplish it. Despite the premature rumors of his demise, this is just another event that sets up to be right in his wheelhouse.

And what if instead of a slugfest it turns out to be a comparatively low weight affair?

Well, if that’s the case, don’t count him out then, either. In addition to having the highest winning Classic weight of the five-fish limit era, VanDam also has the lowest winning weight in the event’s history, the 12-15 he put on the scales in 2005 in Pittsburgh.

We’re likely to run out of ink to describe his achievements before he stops setting records.

 

-- Story by Pete Robbins for Bassmaster.com

2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro
Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Mar 4 - Mar 6, 2016

Leaderboard

1
Edwin Evers - 60-7
1. 13-12, 2. 17-8
2
Jason Christie - 50-2
1. 20-14, 2. 16-11
3
Aaron Martens - 46-5
1. 13-8, 2. 16-13
4
Bill Lowen - 45-11
1. 16-9, 2. 13-15
5
Randy Howell - 45-10
1. 17-6, 2. 11-13
6
Todd Faircloth - 44-15
1. 14-15, 2. 16-15
7
Dean Rojas - 42-11
8
Alton Jones - 42-8
1. 17-13, 2. 11-12
9
Kieth Combs - 40-13
10
Greg Hackney - 40-9
1. 16-2, 2. 9-13
48
Kevin VanDam - 7-14
1. --, 2. --

History & Notes;

Big Bass

Day 1: Marty Robinson - 7-0

Day 2: Bill Lowen - 5-8