Classic returns to Lay Lake

The excitement is already building in anticipation of the return of the prestigious CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic extravaganza to Shelby County’s Lay Lake June 25-27.

The Classic is much more than just the crowning event of the CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail. Classic Week is the annual celebration of the sport of bass fishing that attracts B.A.S.S. members and fishing fans from across the country.

They will invade Shelby County to meet their fishing heroes, attend the weigh-ins and participate in youth and other fan-friendly events in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center which include the highly popular Classic Outdoor Show.

During the June week, Shelby County and Birmingham will be alive with bass boats and bass fans.

The city has hosted four well-attended Classics, while Lay Lake was the scene of the 1996 Classic &045; one of the closest Classics in history, in which George Cochran edged Davy Hite by one pound.

&uot;It’s exciting having the Classic back in Birmingham and Shelby County,&uot; said Alabama native son Tim Horton, the 2000 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year who lives in Muscle Shoals. Birmingham is just a great place to have the Classic. The Birmingham Classics are big-attendance Classics.&uot;

Horton won’t be a spectator this year. Qualifying for his third consecutive Classic appearance by finishing third in the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year race, Horton, 29, is one of the pre-tournament favorites.

&uot;I’m real excited about the Classic being right here in Birmingham because I live right there,&uot; added Randy Howell, a resident of Trussville, who will be making his fourth Classic appearance. &uot;It’s only 20 minutes from my house to the Civic Center, and I know a lot of people and have a lot of friends in that area now.&uot;

Jamie Horton will have his share of friends and fans there, too. The 34-year-old pipe fabrication shop supervisor from Centreville is one of five amateurs who qualified for the Classic through the B.A.S.S. Federation system.

&uot;I’m thrilled to make a Classic (being held) in Birmingham,&uot; Jamie Horton said. &uot;I think Lay Lake will be a great Classic lake.&uot;

Lay Lake is an impoundment of the Coosa River located about 40 miles from Birmingham. With more than 250 miles of shoreline and 12,000 acres, Lay Lake is home to a sizeable population of both largemouth and spotted bass.

&uot;Lay Lake is going to be a good site for the Classic,&uot; Tim Horton said. &uot;You can fish a variety of different ways.&uot;