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LIVE ready for Classic coverage

Fifty-two of the world’s best bass anglers will head to Houston next week to compete for more than $1 million in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, and fans will be able to follow the action as it happens.

Classic LIVE will be broadcasting in real time from the B.A.S.S. booth at the Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“What an incredible venue we have this year being set up in the heart of Houston, Texas, and watching the action unfold live on a lake that some anglers are saying might produce multiple 10-pound-plus bass,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content for JM Associates and producer of The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2.

Cameras will be streaming live coverage of the Classic leaders on Lake Conroe back to the expo production facility, where hosts will break down the action for fans tuning in through Bassmaster.com and WatchESPN. Hosts Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona, and Davy Hite along with Dave Mercer and on-the-water reporter Robbie Floyd, will provide analysis and live updates.

This year, special guest Brian Robison of the Minnesota Vikings will also be onsite for the Classic LIVE show to provide some local insight. Robison played for the University of Texas and calls Lake Conroe his home lake.

Classic fish care in Houston

B.A.S.S. provides the absolute best fish care possible at every event it holds, from the Costa Bassmaster High School Series all the way up to the Bassmaster Elite Series.

But at the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods March 24-26, the measures will be even more extreme with the anglers and their catch facing a 43-mile commute from Lake Conroe back to Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The stadium is the home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros – and since the Astros have a home game scheduled just three days after the Classic, anglers and fish alike must remember to keep off the grass at the Minute Maid Park. But B.A.S.S. officials insist that won't keep the organization from continuing its excellent record of fish survival at Classic venues, which typically is 97 to 100 percent, according to National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland.

"We certainly expect to achieve the same level of success at Lake Conroe," Gilliland said. “Every Classic – every situation – is different. But getting those fish safely back to Lake Conroe is our top priority.”

The fish care measures will begin with the 52 anglers competing at 21,000-acre Conroe. Since most of them make their livings catching fish – and none of them wants to incur the 4-ounce penalty charged for weighing a dead fish – they’ll take extreme measures to keep the fish healthy while they’re in their livewells.

"Our anglers are very conscientious when it comes to keeping their fish alive," Gilliland said. "Dead fish mean penalties and, in the most important bass tournament in the world, they don't want any deductions."

A year as Classic champ

I want to start by telling you that I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last column. The new Elite season and preparing for the upcoming GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods have taken up a tremendous amount of time. Now that the Classic’s just a week away, preparation becomes even more important, but so does this column.

I hope to write several columns over the next couple of weeks and even a few during the Classic on Lake Conroe. My mind never stops churning as I get ready for it. I’m feeling good about my preparation and I’m super optimistic about my chances. The Classic is an easy tournament to get “up” for, and I want to make the most of my time and energy between now and Day 1.

This seems like the perfect time to tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed being your Bassmaster Classic champion. Thank you all for making the experience so great! Yes, the money was nice and it’s created some business opportunities for me, but the very best thing about it has been the chance to meet so many of you.

As an Elite Series pro, I had a certain level of recognition on the road and at events. That increased exponentially after winning the Classic, and it’s very humbling. I’ve done my best to take the time to speak with everyone I could and to say “yes” to as many requests as possible. It’s been a great and very humbling experience.

I was especially rewarded by my efforts with Wounded Warriors in Action, taking these heroes fishing and raising money and awareness for a great cause. These veterans have become my friends, and I hope to work with them and support them for a long time to come.

Second Chances

OPTIMA Batteries

47 things to do at the 47th Bassmaster Classic

There are far more than 47 things to do and see at the March 24-26, GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. But to celebrate the 47th annual world championship of bass fishing, this list stops at No. 47.

Fishing fans can also use this list as a set of reasons to attend the world championship, which features 52 of the world’s best bass anglers competing for more than $1 million on Lake Conroe, about an hour outside of Houston, Texas, plus the gigantic Outdoors Expo in the George R. Brown Convention Center and daily weigh-in festivities at the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park. All activities are family-friendly and free to attend.

Help cheer on your favorite competitor at morning takeoffs. Come to Lake Conroe Park (14968 TX-105, Montgomery, Texas 77356) at 7:20 a.m. CT each morning and send off some of the world’s best bass anglers.
Donut forget breakfast. Warm donuts will be available on-site from Shipley Donuts.
Ride like the wind. Want to know what it feels like to ride like the wind? Come to the take-off site at Lake Conroe Park to test out the latest boats and engines from Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton and Yamaha.
Experience the largest Outdoors Expo of its kind. Visit the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida de las Americas, Houston, Texas 77010). With more than 300,000 square feet of exhibit space, this Expo is the largest in Classic history. Expo hours areFriday, March 24, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, March 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. All events are free to attend.
Schedule your day. Use the online floor plan to find out which booths you want to visit and what new product introductions you don’t want to miss — available at Bassmaster.com/expoattend.
Meet anglers and win prizes. Check out the Miss GEICO racing boat –– and have the chance to play games, win prizes and meet anglers at the GEICO booth.
Search for deals. Find hot buys, deeply discounted closeouts and launches of many of the newest products for 2017 at the DICK’S Sporting Goods booth and the Academy Sports + Outdoors booth, among others.
Get into the drama of daily weigh-ins. The doors of Minute Maid Park (501 Crawford St., Houston, Texas 77002) will open each day at 3 p.m. for B.A.S.S. Life and Nation members and at 3:15 p.m. for the general public, Friday-Sunday. Find a seat, then sit back, relax and enjoy the slate of pre-weigh-in entertainment.
Get Hooked On Fishing. Bring your kids to check out the Shell Bassmaster Get Hooked On Fishing presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors area from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fridayto Sunday. Activities include casting lessons, a kid’s fishing pond, a long-jump dog competition, animated character appearances and more. It’s free!

Conroe and the Classic record book

Tied record: Most Classic titles in field (12)

2017 Classic: Everything will be bigger

I’ll admit it. I rooted for the Patriots to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI held in Houston, Texas. I’m pretty sure I was the only person in the state of Alabama not cheering for the Falcons. After all, Atlanta’s Julio Jones (who I suspect to be a mutant with superpowers) was a former University of Alabama standout receiver, and is an avid bass angler. Still, I wanted to see history made. The fact that Tom Brady had the opportunity to win a record five championship rings as a starting quarterback was something I wanted to witness. It would be like watching Wilt Chamberlain score 100 points against the New York Knicks in 1962. Or like watching Nolan Ryan throw his seventh no-hitter. I wanted to say, “Yep, I watched that game!” Not only did Brady throw his way into the record books, but the game also was the first NFL championship to go into overtime. Houston was indeed historic. Well, in a few weeks, I believe the same sort of history will be made, again in Houston. Full disclosure: I am from Texas. And yes, we Texans are a proud lot, wont to believe that everything is bigger and better in the Lone Star State. But that is precisely why I think the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in Houston (Lake Conroe) March 24-26 will break every attendance record kept for the world championship. Texans simply will not allow another state to claim the title of “most avid fishing fans.”

Edwin Evers on Targeting Smallmouth Bass Wolf Packs

For two-time Jack Links Major League Fishing champion Edwin Evers, there's nothing quite like hunting down a big-ole bass.

Unless, that is, he's hunting down a wad of big-ole bass, the kind of scale-busters that can win him a championship event like the 2013 MLF Challenge Cup in Istokpoga, Fla. and the 2015 MLF Challenge Cup in Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana.

Or the 2016 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake in northeastern Oklahoma, for that matter.

But as impressive as those signature wins have been in the career of Double E, they all came on the backs of largemouth bass, the predominant fish in those particular fisheries.

In northern Minnesota at the 2017 MLF Summit Cup, smallmouth bass undoubtedly play a pivotal role in who wins, perhaps even the renowned wolf packs of bass that the North Country is known for.

What's a wolf pack? In short, it's a huge group - a bronzeback gang, if you will - that roams around terrorizing local baitfish populations.

"Lots of them," said Evers. "That's what a wolf pack is, where there is lots of them."

GoPro: Edwin Evers previews Lake Texoma

Elite Series angler Edwin Evers gives a closer look at Lake Texoma's current condition.

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