The 2013 Bassmaster Classic professional bass fishing tournament was held in late February on the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees in the state of Oklahoma, with Cliff Pace, who competes under contract with Yamaha–Skeeter, winning the championship. In fact, pro anglers with Yamaha contracts swept the top four places in this prestigious competition.
A sport and culture of its own
First held in 1971 on Lake Mead in Nevada, today's Bassmaster Classic is one of the top angling competitions in the world, both in fame, competitive level and in scale, with a first-place prize of $500,000. Fishing fans flock to the event with their families, and media coverage is equally big, with television programs covering the action as well. The successful bass fishing pros enjoy popularity like the stars of other big sports, with fans waiting in long lines to get their autographs at the tournament expo grounds. Scenes like this might be hard to imagine in regions where angling is not such a popular sport.
Another reason for the deep-rooted popularity of angling in the U.S.A. is the abundance of local tournaments held across the country that local amateur anglers can enter easily. Among the large base of participants are hard-core angling buffs outfitted with the same types of top-class boats and gear as the pros, as well as more casual anglers who join in for a fun weekend on the water with their friends.
All of this adds up to make bass fishing nothing less than a large-scale, nationwide sporting industry. Yamaha leads the market with the bass fishing-specific V-MAX SHO outboard series together with Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.'s deluxe bass boat maker Skeeter.
Two styles, one popular fish
There are basically two ways to enjoy bass fishing. One is as a competitive sport by participating in tournaments, and the other is a style where you're seeking "the big catch." The attraction of the tournament style of angling is the fun and excitement of matching your skills against other anglers under a fair set of rules.
For those who like the "big catch" style, a 10 lb. (approx. 4.5 kg) bass is one measure of success, and there is even a "10 Pound Bass Club" that welcomes qualifying anglers. There are also those who chase the dream of catching a world record (by the way, that world record was tied in 2009 by a 22 lb. 5 ounce bass caught in Japan's Lake Biwa).
There are a number of factors that make bass such a popular game fish. One is the fierce fight they put up with pull that belies their size. Another is the patterns of movement they exhibit in certain seasons that reward the knowledgeable angler with plenty of strikes.
The bass family also has a number of species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Florida bass and spotted bass, among others. In addition to the freshwater species, there are also members of the bass family that live in brackish waters and saltwater. Besides bass, there are many other species of game fish in different regions of the world that have the potential for a sport angling industry like how bass fishing is in the U.S.A.
As for myself, I got a lot of enjoyment out of bass fishing when I lived and worked in America. Since I like the "big catch" style, I'm still casting around for my 10 pound bass when I can.