HEADING SOUTH FOR THE SUPER BOWL OF BASS FISHING
Last week, the DECKED team traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for the 52nd Bassmaster Classic, bass fishing's most famous tournament. This three-day event gathers competitors and fans from across the country. It's a chance for fans to catch up with their favorite anglers, see unreleased products, and attend weigh-ins that ultimately decide the champion.
History of the Bassmaster Classic
Ray Scott is credited with creating B.A.S.S., or Bass Anglers Sportsman Society: "It is my plan that we lift bass fishing up to public par with golf, bowling, and pocket billiards. It's high time the public found out we exist." Ray didn't have to wait long. He held his All-American Bass tournament in the fall of 1967 on Smith Lake in Alabama. Shortly after, he convinced over 100 anglers to compete in an invitation-only tournament after paying a $100 entry fee. These early years formed the foundation of B.A.S.S., the governing body that operates the Bassmaster fishing series.
Over time, Ray launched Bassmaster magazine, recruited members, hired employees, and launched tournaments and events to educate the masses about the good ol' sport of bassin'. In 1971, 24 anglers boarded a jetliner for an unknown destination. At cruising altitude, Ray announced the destination of the tournament: they were on their way to Las Vegas for the first-ever Bassmaster Classic.
Over the next few decades, the Classic picked up steam and the sport grew exponentially. The 1980 Bassmaster Classic was featured on ABC's 20/20, exposing millions to the previously unknown tournament.
From Humble Roots
This year's Bassmaster Classic drew over 150,000 fishing fans to the consumer convention, tournament kick-off, and weigh-ins. While anglers today compete for big prize pay-outs, sponsorships, and bragging rights, the same love of bass fishing remains from the early days. Competitors enjoy a superstar level of fame within the fishing world, with people lining up to get fan photos and autographs.
Bassmaster Classic anglers share their boat with a camera operator and rules officiator. Spectators can watch live as fish are caught, following along with real-time updates on the leaderboard. At each day's close, anglers pull their trucks and trailers into an arena and bring out their five heaviest fish. Then the weigh-in begins with an announcer and fanfare similar to a WWE wrestling match. Fans get up close and personal; aside from the actual fishing, every step of the day is an opportunity for the public to interact with the professionals.
A Friend in the Field
We cheered on DECKED team member and competitor Scott Martin who finished in the top 20 with a combined weight of 66 lbs 12 oz. Fun fact: Scott is our longest serving DECKED team member, and has been a legend in the bass fishing world for decades. While this was Scott's first Bassmaster Classic, he has had a super successful fishing career, winning over $3 million in earnings from MLF, FLW, and BASS tournaments to date.
The Newest Gear
Every Bassmaster Classic has a consumer trade show that runs during the tournament. While the pros are on the water, fans attend a massive convention completely dedicated to all things bass-related. Casting demonstrations in tanks with live bass, new product prototypes, meet and greets, and giveaways dominate the scene. If a professional angler finds success with one particular bait, it's almost a guarantee that it will be sold out within hours at the convention. It provides an incredible community for fans to socialize with brand ambassadors, see the newest products, and celebrate the start of another fishing season.
CATCHING UP AT THE DECKED BOOTH
It's no secret that DECKED is highly regarded by folks with outdoor passions. The team went down to the Classic with displays in tow – exhibiting our Drawer System and Tool Box with accessories tailored to fishing. Consumers flocked to the booth to see the gear and meet our ambassadors within the fishing industry. Jameson Redding, Brian Robison, Mike Iaconelli, and Cody Rubner were a few of the DECKED team members in attendance that drew traffic to our booth.
Jameson Redding is a professional kayak fisherman – targeting bass, redfish, and sea trout around the world. He knows his way around the waters in his native state of North Carolina, and most of the South from Asheville to Austin. His tricked-out GMC Sierra AT4 with a Drawer System organizes his gear and gets him from honey-hole to home in style. We were lucky to have his big-bearded smile at our booth, talking to customers about how he uses his drawers to stay organized and spend more time on the water. He also passed out some of our koozies with an eery likeness to his own.
From NFL to MLF
At first glance, Brian Robison's height makes you think he should be a professional football player. And for 10 years, that's exactly what he was. After a successful career as a defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, Brian now spends his days fishing and spending time with his family. The Texas native grew up fishing with his dad, and hasn't stopped since. Brian will be competing in Major League Fishing tournaments this spring. We were pumped when Brian stopped by the DECKED booth to get comfortable. And a little surprised he could fit his NFL-tank-of-a-body in the bed of this 2022 Tundra.
DECKED team member Mike "Ike" Iaconelli is one of the best-known professional anglers around. He's been on the circuit for over 20 years and is the only angler with Bassmaster Classic, Angler of the Year, and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship titles in his trophy case. He's competed in the Classic a record 17 times consecutively, a record almost impossible to beat.