Editor's Note: Streaming video of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are available on www.ESPN360.com, ESPN's customized broadband service. Coverage is offered to BASS INSIDER members and ESPN360 customers. To join BASS INSIDER, visit www.BassInsider.com. The best of 2004 weigh-ins along with features and daily re-caps will be available on ESPN360 throughout the Classic.
Surprise! It's an ATV!
On Friday following Day 1 weigh-in of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh, John Deere surprised Rick Clunn, winner of the BASS' Greatest Angler Debate, with a Trail Buck 650 ATV.
A day earlier, BASS announced Clunn as the winner of the fan-based contest.
He bested 34 other nominees as fans cast more than 70,000 votes online for the greatest bass angler at bassmaster.com.
"I've been destroying my ATV because I'm been riding it so tough," said Clunn. "Thank you so much."
The Trail Buck has a super-smooth continuous variable transmission and a efficient 644cc 4-Tec Rotax engine It is valued at $7,000.
Pittsburgh Shows up for Classic
Aaron Martens, tied for second place after Day 1 in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, said droves of Pittsburgh fans came out on the waters to experience the Super Bowl of bass fishing firsthand.
"The spectator boats out there today were some of the best I've ever seen," said Martens, who has fished five other Classics.
About 2,000 spectators attended the Classic launch this morning at Point State Park. About 2,000 spectators attended the Classic launch this morning at Point State Park, while nearly 6,000 attended the weigh-in at Mellon Arena this afternoon, according to BASS officials.
The Gospel According to Gerald
Six-time Classic competitor Gerald Swindle was a little hard on himself coming off the water on Day 1 of the Classic.
"Some days you're a hero and some days you're a stupid guy," he professed. "Today, I was a stupid guy."
Alabama's Swindle sits in 15th place with 3 pounds, 8 ounces. But he's still optimistic. "I lost five or six keepers today. So I know I'm just one bite away."
Women's Bassmaster Tour: Women Anglers Get Fired Up
Cheers and excitement filled the air as BASS announced Thursday the five stops for the 2006 Women's Bassmaster Tour, which will visit lakes in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, North Carolina and Missouri.
More than 20 women filled the Steelhead Lounge at the Marriott City
Center in Pittsburgh during BASS' media day.
"This whole experience has been very positive," said 18-year professional angler Judy Wong of Many, La. "The women are very excited and it's something we've all wanted and needed. ESPN and BASS have now provided us with a stage where we can pursue our dreams."
The WBT events will coincide with the dates and locations of two of next year's CITGO Bassmaster Tour stops and all three Major events. The two tours will fish separate but nearby waters and weigh-in on the same stage.
"We're all fearless and terrific anglers," said Penny Berryman, a veteran pro angler of 20 years from Hot Springs, Ark. "With the support of ESPN and BASS, we'll get a lot of new women who will get caught up in the excitement and will want to give it a try. This will be a growing year for us and I can't wait for it to begin."
A Family Fest Experience
This year's Bassmaster Family Fest reeled in a big crowd at Pittsburgh's Point State Park earlier this week. The fest hosted several thousand attendees that participated in the kid's fishing derby.
A string of hundreds of anxious kids lined the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, casting out their new pristine rods hoping to getting a catch.
For 7-year-old Ben Doyle, the fishing was a little rough at times, but he still enjoyed the day. "I like fishing because it's an outdoor sport. It's kind of like exercising, you can get good at it."
Dan Porterfield, president of the Benton County Bass Anglers in Missouri, rarely misses Family Fest. He said he loves to observe the kids as they learn how to fish. "It's an honor and privilege to come here and have an event like this scheduled between the Bassmaster Junior World Championship and Bassmaster Classic," he said. "This is what it's all about."
Families say this year's fishing derby exceeded their expectations. "This is unbelievable,' said visitor Sue Scheafnocker. "There's rods, shirts, hats, and even sunglasses."
Family Fest is an annual event that takes place in conjunction with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. It has been growing in popularity over the past 21 years, according to Stacy Twiggs, BASS youth manager. "The people in the city have been amazing. It was a first class production."
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968. Coming in 2006 are an expanded Tour schedule to 11 events, three Majors tournaments and the Women's Bassmaster Tour.
The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will receive unprecedented coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 this year. A total of 12 hours of programming will be devoted to Classic tournament coverage July 29-31.