News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

There’s more to Bassmasters Classic than fishing

The biggest event in professional bass fishing is just around the corner as 50 of the best anglers in the world invade Birmingham for a shot at the first-place prize of $500,000.

The 37th Bassmaster Classic is set for Feb. 23-25 on Lay Lake with weigh-ins slated for the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. A total $1.2 million payout will give all the anglers plenty to shoot for.

But there’s more to this than fishing.

In addition to the three days of competition, the 2007 Classic ESPN Outdoors Expo will be at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

While the contenders are on Lay Lake, visitors to the Complex will find 210,00 square feet of outdoor equipment available to browse or buy.

The 120 exhibitors will have the latest in electronics technology, and children can participate in casting and other interactive areas.

Virtually all of the major lure manufacturers and rod-and-reel companies will be in attendance along with boat and motors dealers.

Having attended many of these events, I can tell you first hand that people are going to have plenty of fun. The show normally brings in anywhere from 34,000 to 50,000 people each year.

“The Expo will let fans get up-close and personal with professional anglers and the products they use,” said Eric Lopez, BASS director of event operations. “They’re going to be able to learn more about the anglers and get autographs.

“We’re making available to the consumers the newest products that later will be in tackle stores and boat dealerships across the country. Fans will get a feel for what the Classic pros are actually doing, how they are fishing. They’ve watched them fish on ESPN2 and now they can learn more about they’re doing through the Expo.”

The show hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 25.

Take-off for the fishermen will begin at 7 each morning from Paradise Point Marina near Columbiana. The weigh-ins will be at the civic center beginning at 3 p.m.

I have had many requests for my top picks and who will be the winner of the Classic this year.

My picks have done well the past few seasons, but fishing on Lay Lake can make for some difficult predictions.

It seems as if every outdoors enthusiastic that asks wants to know if VanDam is going to win.

I’ve ridden in the boat with VanDam many times, and with his intensity, he should never be counted out.

My pick to win is Alabama’s Randy Howell. He has done extremely well when competing on North and Central Alabama lakes.

Besides Howell, my top 10 list include VanDam, Rick Clunn, Timmy Horton, Aaron Martens, Gerald Swindle, Michael Iaconelli, Kelly Jordan, Greg Hackney and Denny Brauer — I would be foolish to leave out him.

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Paul Stackhouse
Paul Stackhouse

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