Bassmaster Classic fan's guide
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2013
2/17/13 at 5:42 AM
Watch a narrated aerial tour of Grand Lake on Google Earth. Play the Weigh-In challenge contest and win prizes. Read all our coverage and watch videos of the anglers discussing the event.Original Print Headline: 2013 Bassmaster Classic: Fan's Guide
People who have been to a Bassmaster Classic say it's not just a bass tournament and it's not just for bass anglers. It's a full-spectrum outdoors event and entertainment production.
BASS, the Tulsa Sports Commission, local sponsors and hundreds of area volunteers are working to bring to life what BASS Director of Event and Tourism Partnerships Michael Mulone called "a celebration of the outdoors lifestyle."
Feb. 22-24 there is a tournament, an outdoor expo, a street fair, and weigh-in show. Admission to all those venues is free of charge. Following is a primer to help you prepare and find your way around:
PRECEDING THE EVENT
Anglers will arrive in Tulsa and Grand Lake O' the Cherokees a week or more before the event. Friday through Sunday they will concentrate on the lake for practice. Most days they are on the lake sunrise to sunset. Wednesday is an "official practice" and "dry run" for the tournament launch and check-in.
Wednesday night anglers, sponsors, media and VIPs meet at Classic presenting sponsor Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the Night of Champions banquet.
Thursday the anglers are around town for a conservation summit and media day.
Thursday morning BASS and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership bring together media, anglers and experts to talk about the top freshwater conservation issues at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel.
The big show begins about 6 a.m. Friday at Wolf Creek Park and Boat Ramp near Grove. Official takeoff is 7 a.m., but the process of putting the boats in the water and setting up for the takeoff is accompanied by music, angler interviews, fan interaction with the anglers and of course a ceremony with display of the colors and playing of the national anthem.
Fans gather by the thousands on shore each morning, fan and angler boats multiply in the water and the ESPN helicopter hovers overhead. "People put boats in the water every day, but they make it an exciting, action-packed process," said local organizing committee chairman Jeff Stava.
He recommends people come mindful of the weather. Wear sturdy shoes and prepare to spend time outside. Parking will be available on-site and park-and-ride free shuttle service will operate from a lot just a half-mile south on U.S. 59 at the Cheapo Depo.
Vendors will be on site with hot drinks and snacks for sale. Some bleachers will be on-site, but "there will be a lot of standing room and it's a gradual slope so people will be able to see what's happening," he said.
FOLLOWING THE ANGLERS
Boaters are welcome to follow anglers on the water, but they are asked to keep their distance and please respect the seriousness of the event. Grand Lake is public water, but disturbing the anglers is considered unethical behavior for an outdoorsman, as is motoring into their fishing spots and fishing behind them. Spectators are asked to turn off their motors while anglers are fishing and to turn off all sonar equipment.
GROVE BOAT SHOW
The annual Grove Boat Show has been moved up from mid-March to coincide with the Bassmaster Classic. Located downtown on Main Street in the Grove Civic Center, it will be open Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
"We're excited for all these folks to see everything Grand Lake has to offer," said Tad Jones, a member of the local organizing committee.
Nearly 100,000 people are expected to trip the turnstiles over three days of sales and showmanship at The Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo in the Tulsa Convention Center.
Hours are Friday noon to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
"It's the largest outdoors show in America," Stava said. "Fishing, hunting, camping, it's everything and anything fishing and the outdoors."
It features big boats, the latest little fishing gadgets and everything in-between. Part of the appeal is celebrity-driven. Top tour anglers who didn't qualify to fish the Classic will be on hand in sponsor booths and celebrity anglers like Hank Parker will be on hand as well.
"It will take you a good four, five, six hours to see the show," Stava said. "It's sensory overload and can be overwhelming. Just take your time. Wear comfortable shoes."
The Tulsa Sports Commission is shutting down Third Street between the Tulsa Convention Center and the BOK Center to provide an additional entertainment area for people making their way from the Expo across the street to the weigh-in.
It will feature live music, food and drink vendors. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and Toyota Tundra Extreme Trucks will have exhibit trailers there. "It will be kind of a fun fan zone," Stava said.
BASS FISHING HALL OF FAME
One event open to the public that does require advance tickets is the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame induction banquet Friday night. Inductees include Tulsa's Darrell Lowrance of fishing electronics innovation fame. Reception is at 6:30 p.m. and dinner is at 8 p.m. Keynote speaker is 2013 Classic competitor Mark Davis. The dinner and induction ceremony tickets are $100. For information go to tulsaworld.com/hoftickets or call 888-690-2277.
The Tulsa Sports Commission is providing free shuttle bus service between area hotels, entertainment districts, Bass Pro Shops and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The fleet includes 20 to 25 full coaches each day with six key hotel hubs servicing other local hotels on those routes.
Park-and-ride service will be available daily from Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. A main drop-off and pick-up spot for passengers is Third Street and South Frisco Ave.
The BOK Center opens at 3 p.m. each day. People are advised to arrive early and get a seat. Admission is free and it is general seating, with some areas blocked off for angler families, sponsors and other VIPs.
Entertainment and activities precede the actual weighing of the fishes.
The Timberworks Lumberjack Show powered by STIHL will be there Saturday and Sunday. "You should get there and get a seat, but you won't be sitting there waiting for something to happen," Mulone said.
Anglers arrive in front of the stage on their boats to their own theme music, overhead video and special stage effects and the competition. All 53 anglers weigh-in Friday and Saturday. The big finale Sunday.
Early Sunday is weigh-in and finding out the winner of the College Bass Classic between University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State University and University of Oklahoma bass teams.
Then, with the pro field cut to 25, comes the final weigh-in and the crowning of the Bassmaster Classic Champion with the trophy ceremony and $500,000 top prize.
Fans cheer during the launch on the final day of last year's Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La. This year's event begins about 6 a.m. Friday morning at Wolf Creek Park and Boat Ramp near Grove. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file