By Josh Boyd
For competitive bass anglers, no bigger stage exists than that of the Bassmaster Classic. Every year, fans and fishing fanatics from across the country make the journey to enjoy all the festivities that this annual gathering of all things bass has to offer.
This year’s Bassmaster Classic was held March 6th-8th at Lake Guntersville, in northeast Alabama. Every morning of the Classic, a field of the nation’s top anglers launched their boats and hit the water in search of bass fishing glory.
However, fans weren’t left standing idly by as action took place on the water. Adjacent to Legacy Arena where daily weigh-ins took place, sits the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. This was where the 2020 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo took place, offering fans three days worth of opportunity to take in everything there is to experience in the world of bass fishing.
This year’s expo offered all who attended a chance to speak to the manufacturers of their favorite angling equipment. Representatives from many of the nation’s top rod, reel, lure, boat, and outboard engine manufacturers were all present to interact with consumers, and to explain the latest innovations within their product lines.
Of these numerous manufacturers, some stood about above the rest, drawing large crowds to their booths during all three days of the expo.
A prime example of this could be seen at the Old Town Kayak booth, where fishermen from every walk of life continually flocked to lay witness to the company’s innovative new product lines. At the focal point of this booth was Old Town’s new Minn Kota powered line of Kayaks.
The Old Town Sportsman series of Kayaks offers anglers the same level of efficiency and accessibility that the company’s other product offerings have become synonymous with. However, this line of Kayaks employs the use of a truly revolutionary, Minn Kota powered propulsion unit.
The new Sportsman line of Kayaks utilizes a 45 pound/thrust Minn Kota trolling motor to get anglers from one fishing hole to the next in a timely manner, all without giving up the notable maneuverability of a standard Kayak. To build upon this further, Old Town has also released the 120 and 136 Sportsman AutoPilot Kayaks. These Kayaks utilize GPS-enabled Spot-Lock autopilot technology, to put anglers on the spot of their choice with the utmost level of accuracy.
Another product that garnered a substantial amount of attention at this year’s expo was Berkley’s new Fritsside line of crankbaits. Although these lures were released in 2019, constant traffic to Berkley’s Frittside display proved that they were among the hottest selling items at the show.
The Frittsside carries the name of its designer, long-time pro David Fritts. You could say that Fritts knows a thing or two about crankbaits, as that is precisely what he used to fish his way to a Bassmaster Classic Title in 1993 on Logan Martin Lake in Alabama.
One of the Frittside’s key selling points is its flat-sided profile that mimics a number of baitfish species when being retrieved. The lure’s balsa-style design closely replicates the characteristics of a wooden crankbait upon retrieval, possessing a truly one-of-a-kind wobble that a hungry bass cannot pass up. Speaking on what makes the Fritsside so effective, Fritts said, “We made a plastic bait act like wood. That’s the big key.”
These were certainly not the only highly sought-after products at this year’s show. Much buzz surrounded a number of other must-have pieces of gear such as Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig heads and new Ugly Stick rod offerings (carbon/elite series), as well as many others.
When show attendees weren’t shopping for new gear to line their tackle boxes and fill their boats, a number of seminars were held at the Berkley booth during the duration of the three-day expo. Pro anglers such as Mike Iaconelli and Hank Parker shared their latest tips, tricks, and tactics for consistently boating bass, no matter the body of water.
Those in attendance also had a multitude of opportunities to meet their favorite anglers who were signing autographs, posing for photos, and giving fishing advice to all who asked. Some of the pro anglers that could be seen making their rounds through the exhibit hall included Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Rick Clunn, Ott Defoe, Jordan Lee, Gerald Swindle, and Jay Yelas, among many others.
If you are a die-hard fisherman, and have never attended a Bassmaster Classic, you would be doing yourself a favor by planning a trip to do so in the future. The Classic spells a wonderful time for all who attend, and offers something for anglers from all walks of life. Whether you are searching for the right gear to make the most out of your time on the water, or would like to learn how to boat bass with the consistency of your favorite pros, opportunity exists for all at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo.