SPORTS

39th Bassmaster Classic along Red River should be special

Lyle Johnson
Lyle Johnson and 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion Alton Jones display a “double” of bass caught while fishing in Fayette County Lake.

You can have it cooked up any way you want it, that's right; bass fishing fans will be able to fully experience the biggest tournament in professional bass fishing. The 39th Bassmaster Classic will happen on the Red River, Feb. 20-22 in Shreveport-Bossier City and fans will be able to click in, tune in or attend the event right here in Louisiana.

Personally, I’m going to make the trip up north and make all three days of the Classic. I’ve been invited to ride with Randy Howell of Springville, Ala. on the first day of competition but I’ll be pulling for our hometown boy, Greg Hackney.

And just what might a person do in Shreveport for four days while attending a fishing tournament? Let me count the ways.  You can attend the daily launches presented by the Red River Waterway Commission at 7:15 a.m. CT, Feb. 20-22, at the Red River South Marina, Hwy. 71 South in Bossier City.

The daily weigh-ins will be at the CenturyTel Center, 2000 CenturyTel Center Drive, Bossier City. CenturyTels doors will open at 3:30 p.m. CT, except on Saturday, Feb. 21, when a free concert by Zac Brown Band will begin at 3 p.m. CT. They will no doubt perform their No. 1 hit single, “Chicken Fried” for a wild crowd that attends the weigh-in.

The 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick's Sporting Goods will be at the Shreveport Convention Center, 400 Caddo St. Hours will be Friday, noon-9 p.m. CT; Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. CT; and Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. CT. There will be plenty of professional anglers there representing their sponsors that didn’t make the Classic; Jay Yelas will be among them.

Shreveport-Bossier City known as “Louisiana’s Other Side” offers some of the greatest attractions in our state. Stage of Stars Museum/Municipal Auditorium – Shreveport is hailed as the place where Elvis got his start on the Louisiana Hayride at Municipal Auditorium.  The catch-phrase “Elvis has left the building” was coined in Shreveport. It was first uttered at Hirsch Coliseum by Louisiana Hayride producer Horace Logan to quiet screaming teens.

But hey, back to the fishing. The favorite picked by many of the sports top writer is none other than our own Gonzales resident, Greg “The Hack” Hackney. He’s known as a “river rat” from fishing the Arkansas River growing up as a young boy. That’s what the Red River fishery is considered to be and he’s had some success fishing on the Red before.

Last year’s champion, Alton Jones is stoked about his chance to repeat. That’s only been done once before in Classic history by Rick Clunn, considered one of the world’s all time best bass anglers. After attending a Skeeter boat promotion a couple of weeks ago Jones said, “I'll tell you what, there's a buzz down there about the Classic. The whole town is excited. I can't wait to get down there again for the real deal.”

From all of the info I’ve gotten and read, this will be a “Classic” to remember as far as numbers of fish and the weights are concerned. Most of the angler quotes I’ve read goes something like this, “Man if the weather holds, it’s gonna take 20 pounds a day to win and there will be some 8 and 9 pounders caught.” And so far it looks like the weather is gonna be just what the fish doctor ordered. Heavy rains are the only thing that might mess up water levels, but I don’t think we’ll get any floods before the Classic.

The Bassmaster Classic is no stranger to Louisiana as the premier event in bass fishing as this event was held in New Orleans in 1999 when Davy Hite won it with 55-10 fishing in the Bayou Beouf area; again in 2001 when Kevin Van Dam won it with 32-5 in the Orange Grove area and in 2003 Mike Iaconelli took top honors with 37-14 fishing in Venice.

The current Classic weight record for the five-fish era is 56-02, caught by Luke Clausen in 2006 at Florida's Lake Toho so there’s a lot of excitement about that record being smashed at this year’s Classic. New Orleans is slated to host the event again in 2011 after a visit to Alabama, so the Classic is back in Louisiana!!

If you don’t get to make it to Shreveport ESPN360.com will stream the weigh-in live each day. If you have EATEL FiberEdge, you have access to the TV website. Mike & Mike in the morning will also broadcast live at the Classic on Friday from 6 am to 10 am. All the Classic info can be found on www.bassmaster.com.

Hey, this will be a “Classic” Classic, an event that will be remembered by the anglers and fans alike. I’ll put an update on www.ascensionoutdoors.com each day with some photos as well. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.