Outside the Lines: Bassmaster should move back home

Say what you want, bass fishing is a serious business. This age-old survival skill, turned hobby, turned sport, continues to draw fans every year.

If you were not able to make your way to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex this past weekend to experience Bassmaster XXXVII, then you do not know what you missed. Hours before the doors opened for Sunday&8217;s final weigh-in, fans lined the 19th Avenue entrance steps. If I didn&8217;t know better, I might have guessed it was a crowd camping out for Monday&8217;s Billy Joel concert.

B.A.S.S. is a big deal in this area and to many all around. Thousands of fans rolled through the BJCC Exhibition Hall and arena, while many more watched from home.

Some may say, &8220;So, it draws a big crowd, but where&8217;s the excitement?&8221;

The excitement is four ounces of bass between Skeet Reece and rookie champion Boyd Duckett. It&8217;s the chills of long-shot amateur Terry McWilliams taking fourth place just one ounce behind the top-angler in the world, Kevin VanDam.

It&8217;s the moments of the big one that got away.

It&8217;s a sport where the patience of golf meets the fans of NASCAR.

Alabama is considered home to the B.A.S.S. world, however their ESPN office is located in Celebration, Fla. and the Hall of Fame in Hot Springs, Ark.

With a hometown champ, it&8217;s time that a push be made for B.A.S.S. to come home to the Birmingham area for good. After all, Lay Lake is one of only five lakes to host the Classic three times.

Alabama has also played host to nine Classics, including the first with an indoor final show, hosted in Montgomery in 1981.

Rumors are already flipping around that the Classic will return to the BJCC and possibly the Coosa River for 2008.

While the final weigh-in may be &8220;longer than the Academy Awards,&8221; according to one fan within ear shot, the environment is something that everyone in Shelby County should experience at least once.

But proceed with caution, because you may get hooked