Weather forecast will not deter Bassmaster Classic participants
BY MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
2/20/13 at 7:30 AM
Bassmaster Classic coverage: Read preview stories, take a Google Earth video tour of Grand Lake and try to win prizes in the Tulsa World Outdoors Weigh-In Challenge.
Scene: Find out why the anglers don’t eat their bass.
Women and minorities have small role in big BASS events.
The temperature sank into single digits with spitting snow and bitter winds, making an early 1990s tournament at Grand Lake one of the coldest fishing competitions in memory.
"The conditions were harsh," remembers Trip Weldon, Bassmaster tournament director. "But we had a great competition, and we crowned a champion."
The world's top fishermen will return to Grand Lake this week, not for a mere invitational but for the Bassmaster Classic, the sport's most prestigious event.
The forecast, luckily, doesn't look nearly as frigid as it was 20 years ago. But it's still going to be chilly, with a low in the 20s as the tournament gets under way Friday morning.
Just don't expect much sympathy for the anglers.
"These are the best of the best in the sport," Weldon says. "They have competed in these conditions before, and they will tough it out."
With a $500,000 top prize, 53 anglers will compete Friday through Sunday at Grand Lake, about 100 miles northeast of downtown Tulsa.
Tourism officials expect 100,000 visitors and a $26 million boost to the local economy.
Downtown's BOK Center will host the daily weigh-ins.
The Bassmaster Classic originally came in the fall, then was in the mid-summer for many years. But since 2006, it has been held in February, making the weather a significant factor.
That first year of the winter tournament, the anglers faced a steady, cold rain with 20 mph winds at Lake Tohopekaliga in Florida.
But the move boosted the tournament's prestige even higher, Weldon says.
It's often called "the Super Bowl of fishing," but he compares it to the Daytona 500, which kicks off the NASCAR season Sunday - just as the Bassmaster Classic crowns a champion, too.
"We're the first big event of the season," he says. "And that gets everybody excited."
Low temperatures alone wouldn't postpone a competition, Weldon says. But icy roads might.
"If we couldn't get to Grand Lake safely, that would be one thing," he says, noting that it shouldn't be a problem this week. "But as long as we can get to the water, we'll go fishing. These guys have handled cold weather before."
Tournament officials eliminated a practice day in 1991 because of an approaching hurricane, but the competition itself went ahead as planned, said spokesman Dave Precht.
And as recently as two years ago in New Orleans, heavy fog kept the anglers off the water for an hour, he said. But poor weather has never canceled a day of competition.
"We wouldn't do anything if it wasn't safe to go," Precht said. "But it doesn't look like that will be a problem this week."
Bassmaster Classic forecast
Here's a look at the forecasts for the Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa and Grove, which is nearly 100 miles northeast of downtown Tulsa:
Friday: Sunny skies, high near 42, low near 24; northwest winds at 10-15 mph
Saturday: Mostly cloudy skies, high near 49, low near 33; slight chance of rain and south winds at 10-20 mph
Sunday: Mostly sunny skies, high near 59, low near 36; southwest winds at 15-25 mph
Friday: Sunny skies, high near 42, low near 21; northwest winds at 10-15 mph
Saturday: Mostly cloudy skies, high near 51, low near 31; slight chance of rain and snow during the day and south winds at 10-20 mph
Sunday: Mostly sunny skies, high near 58, low near 36; southwest winds at 15-25 mph
Source: Mike Teague, Tulsa National Weather Service meteorologist
Original Print Headline: Anglers set for difficult conditions
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Adam Adkisson (left) and Brad Lamontagne of Triton Boats unwrap a bass boat Tuesday at the Bassmaster Classic Expo in the Convention Center. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Tony Martinez unwraps the Bassmaster Classic trophy before the pro meeting at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown in Tulsa on Tuesday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Rigging crews work on the stage for the Bassmaster Classic Weigh-In at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Tuesday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World