Bassmaster event set for Lay Lake in 2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006


The most prestigious event in bass fishing is returning to Alabama. Gov. Bob Riley, ESPN and BASS officials announced recently the 2007 Bassmaster Classic will be held at Lay Lake and the Women&8217;s Bassmaster Classic will be held on Lake Mitchell. The men&8217;s three-day event will take place Feb. 23-25. The Bassmaster Classic was last held in Alabama in 2002. This will be the first ever Women&8217;s Bassmaster Classic. The women&8217;s four-day event will be held Feb. 22-25.

&8220;It&8217;s great to have bass fishing&8217;s premier event coming back to Birmingham,&8221; Riley said. &8220;This is a sport so many Alabamians share and pass on to their children and grandchildren.&8221;

The Bassmaster Classic was held on the 12,000-acre Lay Lake in both 1996 and 2002. The winning three-day tournament weight in 2002 was 45 pounds, 13 ounces. In 1996, it was 31 pounds, 14 ounces. Weigh-ins for the men&8217;s classic and part of the weigh-ins for the women&8217;s classic will be held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Complex. ESPN2 is devoting 12 hours of programming to cover the tournament.

&8220;Fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation activities are integral parts of our growing Alabama economy, and 2007 is shaping up to be an incredible year as we continue our tradition of leadership in the outdoors,&8221; Riley said. &8220;We&8217;re excited to partner with ESPN and BASS to host the biggest tournament in bass fishing.&8221;

The field of 50 anglers will compete for nearly $1.2 million in prize money. The top prize will be $500,000.

There are more than 19,000 BASS members in Alabama and nearly 210,000 members within a 500-mile radius of Birmingham, which was recently voted America&8217;s bass capital by Bassmaster magazine readers.

&8220;Our roots are in this state and we are thrilled to bring the Classic to our old stomping grounds,&8221; said Don Rucks, vice president and general manager of BASS.

Several events are planned leading up to the Bassmaster Classic. The Junior Bassmaster World Championship will be held Feb. 18 on Logan Martin Lake. The ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series will be held Jan. 25-27 on Lake Guntersville and the Federation Nation National Championship will be held Jan. 17-19 on Neely Henry Lake.

&8220;All of these events will mean more visitors coming to our state,&8221; Riley said. &8220;They will be staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants and spending money at our businesses.&8221;