I just sat down to read BassTimes Magazine. The very first page is called "The Editor's View" by Dave Precht. Dave talks about B.A.S.S. moving their headquarters from Celebration, Florida to Birmingham, Alabama. This got me to thinking about the town of Birmingham and my very first Bass Masters Classic.....
The year was 1996. I was invited to attend the Classic and promote my new invention,the AKUA Bass boat fender. I had never even heard of the Bass Masters Classic. Mickey Wood of Ranger Boats described it as equivalent to the Masters Golf Tournament for professional fishermen. I was both honored and excited about attending the Classic with Ranger.
When I arrived in Birmingham I was taken away at the excitement that surrounds the Classic. When I entered the vendor area, I was totally surprised at how many boat companies, fishing lure manufacturers, and fishing accessory stores were represented. But, as excited as I was, the best was yet to come.
When the main program started on the first afternoon, I couldn't help but get goose bumps. The auditorium was totally electric. People from every walk of life were going ballistic. Ray Scott, the founder of B.A.S.S., was the emcee, and Ray has a way of getting people excited. Dewey, Ray's side-kick, was the official in charge of the weigh-in. The program centered around Americana. It was well done and very patriotic.
The weigh-in was even more dramatic. Each fisherman, in their fishing boat pulled by a Chevy truck, went around the arena before stopping in front of the stage. With the crowd cheering, the fisherman would pull out their catch of the day one fish at a time and put the fish on the scale. Dewey and Ray were at their best with jokes, comments, and fishing insights. What a great memory! I have never enjoyed anything more in my life.
I have attended several classics since and have enjoyed every one but nothing will beat the Classic of 1996. I really have Ranger to thank for lettting me attend that first classic. If you ever have a chance to attend a Classic, make the effort to attend. It is one of the best family oriented outings I can think of. The next Classic is scheduled for February 24-26 in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. I hope to see you there!