BASS Masters Classic to lure top anglers here


ANNAPOLIS -- The BASS Masters Classic will be held on Maryland waters this summer, sources in the Department of Natural Resources and the bass fishing community said yesterday.

The Classic, a $200,000, three-day tournament among the top 41 professional and amateur bass fishermen in the nation, would be headquartered in Baltimore, with fishing operations based at Dundee Creek Marina in Gunpowder State Park.

The Classic would be the first major bass tournament on the upper Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Ann Lewis, director of information for the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, said yesterday that B.A.S.S. would not comment on the site or dates for this year's Classic.

"We're going to leave all that to the governor," Lewis said. "It's really their show now."

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon. Sources familiar with the negotiations between Schaefer and B.A.S.S. president and chief executive officer Helen Sevier confirmed that the news conference is to announce dates and specific locations for the Classic.

According to those sources, the preferred fishing dates for the tournament are Aug. 22, 23, 24. If the format in previous Classics is followed, the practice fishing day would be Aug. 20.

The daily weigh-ins would be held at the Baltimore Arena, sources said,and a companion outdoors show would be held at the Convention Center.

"Anything can happen at the last minute," one source familiar with the negotiations said. "But at this point, it appears that everything is set and it will be made official on Tuesday."

The average amount paid to B.A.S.S. to cover the setup costs of the Classic is about $250,000, which would be offset by promotional fees paid by national, regional and local tackle manufacturers and retailers.

"I have already been solicited as a sponsor," one area tackle retailer said yesterday. "No question. It's coming."

Previous B.A.S.S. tournaments in Maryland have been held on the Potomac River.

The past three Classics were held on the James River near Richmond, Va.

Last year, Rick Clunn of Montgomery, Texas, won his fourth Classic with a final-day catch of 18 pounds, 7 ounces to beat Tommy Biffle of Waggoner, Okla., by almost 7 pounds.

Classic at a glance

What: 21st annual BASS Masters Classic, a three-day tournament based on total weight of black bass caught, with a limit of five fish per day.

Where: Fishing operations based at Dundee Creek Marina, Gunpowder State Park. Weigh-ins at Baltimore Arena. Outdoors show at Convention Center.

When: Tournament fishing days expected to be Aug. 22, 23, 24. Boats go out from Dundee Creek at 7 a.m. and return at 2:30 p.m. Weigh-ins follow daily.

The field: The Classic field of 41 is made up of the defending champion, Rick Clunn of Montgomery, Texas, the 35 top pros in the B.A.S.S. competition this year and the five top amateur fishermen from B.A.S.S. federations around the country.

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