2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic
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The 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic was held February 21-23 on Lake Guntersville in Birmingham, Alabama. The Bassmaster Classic is the Superbowl of fishing and is every angler’s dream to win. The Classic started in 1971 and has been a tradition in the fishing industry for forty-four years.
The Classic isn’t just a fishing tournament, there is- a lot of publicity and endorsements that go into it. It’s a good way for companies to show off their product at the expo and also for the anglers to show off their sponsors. It’s the biggest tournament of the year and the top fifty-five fishermen in the world qualify for the tournament. Only one angler can be awarded the trophy and the $300,000 dollar prize that goes with it, not counting the endorsements and publicity.
Lake Guntersville has been known to have huge bags be weighed in and the anglers at the Classic did not disappoint. Guntersville has a huge population of five to six pound bass and it is not rare to bring in a five bass limit of thirty pounds or more. The weather was a concern for the anglers and for the media.
Darren Gates, Meridian High School head fishing coach said, “ The weather slowed down the bite, but that is normal for this time of the year. There were some impressive bags though, one 32 lb bag and a few in the 29 lb class. I think as far as the anglers go it was about what I expected but with a couple surprises with the unknown guys doing well.”
When Gates was asked who his prediction was for winning the Classic he said, “Randall Tharp, it’s his home lake and he has been fishing really well lately.” Tharp was in first place after day one with his impressive five bass limit of twenty-seven pounds eight ounces. Edwin Evers was in second with twenty-six pounds thirteen ounces. To be in the top ten on day one you needed to catch at least twenty pounds eleven ounces.
Day two was a different story with Evers taking a one ounce lead over Tharp with a total weight of forty-seven pounds six ounces. The big story of day two was Paul Mueller an angler that qualified into the Classic by winning the 2013 B.A.S.S. National Championship on Lake Dardanelle. Mueller’s spectacular bag of thirty-two pounds three ounces on day two jumped him up from 47th place into 5th place with a total weight of forty-one pounds thirteen ounces.
Day three the field was cut into half with only the top 25 anglers fishing for the Classic title. Day three a darkhorse from the field had a miraculous comeback all the way from 11th place which is the greatest deficit the Bassmaster Classic has ever seen to sweep the trophy. Randy Howell was that angler to make the comeback from 11th place to 1st place and win the 44th Bassmaster Classic. Howell had an impressive total weight of sixty-seven pounds eight ounces to bump Mueller out of first just by a pound exactly.
Trevor Pate, a four year senior of the Meridian Bass Fishing team, when asked if he expected Howell to make the comeback replied, “No, but I was really impressed when he did but I thought Evers was going to win it at the final weigh in.” Gates also answered the question saying, “ Pretty impressive, I didn’t see him as a factor although I think a lot of it came down to the top two guys stumbling on the last day. Each one weighed in over 26 lbs the previous two days but couldn’t even manage twenty pounds on the final day.”
The 44th Bassmaster Classic will be one to remember with a great comeback from Randy Howell and crowning him the champion.