Maryland casts out, looking to hook this year's BASS Masters Classic


At the close of the BASS Masters Classic last August in Richmond, Va., there were those who were hopeful that the 1991 tournament could be held in Maryland waters. In the time since, representatives of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society have been deliberating their next move, and no decision has been made on where the Classic will be held this summer.

However, Gov. William Donald Schaefer and aides met Wednesday with representatives of B.A.S.S., and the possibility of the Classic coming to Maryland remains -- with a few interesting twists.

In past years, B.A.S.S. tournaments have been held on the Potomac River, which has become a premier fishing ground for black bass. According to a spokesperson for the Maryland Office of Sports Promotion, the area discussed on Wednesday was the Susquehanna flats and tidal tributaries of the upper Chesapeake Bay, with fishing operations headquartered on Dundee Creek near the mouth of the Gunpowder River.

There may be those who will raise an eyebrow at this suggestion, but the upper bay and its tributaries are, in their own right, bass fishing grounds of some repute.

And then there is the Baltimore factor.

The BASS Masters Classic is, in effect, the Super Bowl of bass fishing and goes beyond the basic business of catching the greatest weight of fish over a three-day period.

Like the Super Bowl, the Classic is a time when B.A.S.S. puts itself on display and rewards its membership for outstanding achievements, and doing so requires a fitting stage.

Baltimore offers a setting that would suit that purpose.

There are a number of hotels near the Inner Harbor that could accommodate several thousand bassers and family members during a week of day trips and nightly awards ceremonies and celebrations.

The outdoors show that accompanies the Classic could be staged at the Convention Center and Festival Hall.

The ritualistic weigh-ins, which attracted more than 12,000 spectators for the finals each of the past three years in Richmond, could be held at the Baltimore Arena.

Helen Sevier, chief executive officer and president of B.A.S.S., did not return phone calls from The Sun last week, but Ann Lewis, the organization's director of information and publicity, confirmed that Maryland still is in the running for the 1991 Classic.

Lewis would not comment on which other cities are being considered, and deferred all questions to Sevier.

Carol Fox King, spokesperson for the Maryland Office of Sports Promotion, confirmed that Gov. Schaefer met with B.A.S.S. representatives.

"I have to say that no definite decision has been made," King said. "I can tell you that they met, and if the Classic does come here it will use the Convention Center and the Arena for the sports show and weigh-ins. In addition, they are looking at using the waters of Dundee Creek."

In Richmond, the Classic was based at the Omni Hotel, with the weigh-ins and sports show held at the Richmond Coliseum complex. Fishing operations were based out of Osborne Landing on the James River and the tournament contested on waters that ranged as far south on the James as the Chickahominy River.

Should the Classic come to Baltimore, it seems fair to assume that from the staging area on Dundee Creek, tournament fishermen would be free to run north into the Bird River, the mouth of the Gunpowder, Bush River, the Susquehanna River below Conowingo Dam, Furnace Bay and Mill Creek, Northeast River.

On the upper Eastern Shore, the Bohemia and Sassafras rivers are within easy reach.

South of Dundee Creek, there are Saltpeter Creek, Middle River, Galloway Creek, Sue Creek, Hogpen Creek and more areas that will turn up bass.

None of the sites require a longer run than from Richmond down the James and into the upper reaches of the Chickahominy, which would allow more fishing time for bass pros on new grounds.

In Richmond, the Classic received volunteer assistance from members of B.A.S.S. Federation clubs. Maryland has one of the best -- if not the best -- state federations, headed by Ken Andrejak, B.A.S.S. Man of the Year, and was named Federation of the Year the previous year.

There is every reason to believe that volunteer support in Maryland would be more than adequate and enthusiastic.

King said Gov. Schaefer and aides may meet soon to decide on the feasibility of actually having the Classic here.

Lewis said B.A.S.S. may not reach a decision until late Appril.

Maryland and Baltimore have a track record of aggressively going after sporting events that will showcase the city and state, from white-water competition in Western Maryland to the Columbus Cup at the mouth of the Patapsco River.

@4 The Classic is a good target for which to shoot.


The final meeting of the Striped Bass Advisory Board will be held Thursday night at the Tawes State Office Building on Taylor Avenue in Annapolis from 6 to 9 p.m. The public is invited.

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