It should be interesting when 40 of the world's best bas chasers arrive Aug. 18 to try to find fish in 12 rivers of the upper Chesapeake complex during the 21st annual BASS Masters Classic. Until recent informal practice sessions, few had ever heard of the Northeast, Sassafras, Bohemia, Dundee and so forth.
Word is that some of them found nice bass before Sunday' practice cutoff -- no more fishing here until official warmups start Aug. 19, then the big three-day event itself Aug. 22-24.
The field represents 17 states, and only two of them have ha much previous experience with local waters. Florida-based Roland Martin, one of the biggest names -- and money-winners -- on the circuit, grew up here, and Pennsylvanian Randy Romig fished nearly a dozen club tournaments in the area before turning professional.
But it doesn't take long for these fishing machines to figure ne waters. They do it constantly -- and they do it well. Who will win? After covering nine classics over the years, here's how I see it.
BURTON PICKS * Harold Allen, 46, Milam, Texas, a tall wiry and easygoing pro who adapts easily to any waters, fishing his 10th classic, and was runner-up in 1981, and 32nd in all-time winnings with $139,765. Since turning pro he has checked in 2,640 pounds of competition bass.
* Rick Clunn, 45, Montgomery, Texas, a student of fishing who has won an unprecedented four classics including a dazzling come-from-behind last year on the James River. One of the best bass anglers anywhere, with $592,897 in winnings for more than 2 tons of bass -- with average winnings per tournament of $4,006.06.
* Woo Daves, 45, Spring Grove, Va., who will be fishing close to home in his 10th classic. A journeyman laid-back angler, he fishes hard, and almost won the classic a couple years ago. His career winnings are $112,202 for 2,524 pounds of fish.
* Guido Hibdon, 45, Gravois Mills, Mo., the BASS Angler of the Year for the second consecutive round, and he just missed winning classics a couple of times. He has career winnings of $353,980 for a ton of bass.
* Randy Romig, 41, Spring City, Pa., a winner of only $46,760 on the tournament trail for a half-ton of bass, but he has the big advantage of having fished local tournaments -- and in 11 in the upper bay region, he placed at or near the top in nine. He knows the waters well.
* Roland Martin, 51, Clewiston, Fla., a Marylander who went on to the big time, has nine times won Angler of the Year honors, and has fished a record 18 classics, is third in lifetime winnings of $531,275 for 4,472 pounds of bass. Also holds the record for the most BASS tournament wins with 17, but the classic has been his nemesis. Waters hereabouts have changed much since he fished here regularly 25 years ago, but he has been practicing hard. He just might break his jinx.
# OTHER FAVORITES * Denny Brauer, 42, Camdenton, Mo., career winnings of 2,218 pounds, and his eighth classic.
* Ken Cook, 44, Meers, Okla., a veteran of nine classics with $334,853 in winnings for 2,323 pounds.
* Bo Dowden, 50, Hemphill, Texas, a chess player who won the classic in 1980, has lifetime winnings of $188,211 for 3,235 pounds and has fished nine classics.
* Shaw Grigsby Jr., 35, Gainesville, Fla., winner of $342,514 for 1,776 pounds, who has averaged $5,000 a tournament, and has fished three classics.
* Jimmy Houston, 47, Cookson, Okla., in his fifth classic with $192,733 in career winnings for 3,000 pounds of bass. He catches them on TV, but the upper bay sector can be tough.
* Gary Klein, 33, Montgomery, Texas, with career winnings of $436,566 for 2,630 pounds, and in his 10th classic.
* Tommy Martin, 50, Hemphill, Texas, winner of the classic in his rookie year, 1974, he is one of the most intense anglers on the circuit. Career winnings of $343,053 for 3,666 pounds, and has competed in 16 classics.
* Larry Nixon, 40, Bee Branch, Ark., biggest money-winner of all pros with $837,761 for 3,678 pounds, won the classic in 1983 and has earned an invite every year since '77.
OTHER CLASSIC REPEATS * Tommy Biffle, 33, Wagoner, Okla., $175,162 in winnings, 1,336 pounds, two previous classics.
* Jim Bitter, 48, Wagoner, Okla., lifetime winnings, $215,626 for 1,256 pounds, and has fished one previous classic.
* Mickey Bruce, 40, $223,387 in winnings for 1,669 pounds. Five previous classics.
* Mark Davis, 27, Mount Ida., Ark., career winnings of $110,380, for 1,156 pounds. His third classic.
* Guy Eaker, 51, Cherryville, N.C., career winnings of $123,637 for 2,153 pounds, and this will be his ninth classic.
* Randy Fite, 37, fishing his sixth classic; lifetime winnings of $102,871 for 2,250 pounds.
* Charlie Ingram, 46, Columbia, Tenn., $226,517 for 1,790 pounds, and five previous classics.
* Jim Kirkpatrick, 40, Mineola, Texas, $70,417 in winnings for 1,325 pounds, his third classic.
* Jim Nolan, 45, Bull Shoals, Ark., his third classic, $70,747 in winnings, 1,458 pounds.
* Charlie Reed, 56, Broken Bow, Okla., career winnings, $136,161 for 1,319 pounds. Three previous classics.
* Jerry Rhyme, 50, Denver, N.C., 10 previous classics, $133,462 in winnings for 2,599 pounds.
* Zell Rowland, 34, career winnings of $226,749 for 1,857 pounds, his fifth classic.
* Bernie Schultz, 36, Gainesville, Fla., his second classic, winnings of $48,432 for 1,184 pounds.
* Ron Shuffield, 35, Bismark, Ark., three previous classics, lifetime winnings of $335,146 for 1,324 pounds.
* Joe Thomas, 30, Cincinnati, Ohio, two previous classics, $114,331 in winnings for 1,494 pounds.
CLASSIC ROOKIES * Gary Brown, 50, Little Hocking, Ohio, career winnings of 18 pounds.
* Ed Cowan, 32, Pearl River, N.Y., $15,000, 32 pounds.
* Mike Folkestaf, 50, Yoba Linda, Calif., $18,255 for 405 pounds.
* Carroll Hagood, 44, Winter Haven, Fla., career winnings of $4,450 for 264 pounds.
* Jeff Magee, 30, Florence, Miss., $11,755 for 470 pounds.
* Manuel Spencer, 57, Palatka, Fla., $163,071 in winnings for 810 pounds. He won the 1976 Florida Invitational, his first BASS competition, and is the oldest classic contender.
* Dennis Stacey, 33, Marion, S.C., $2,000 in winnings, 21 1/2 pounds.
* Mickey Trousdale, 46, Tucumcari, N.M., $500, 14 pounds.
* Kevin Van Dam, 23, Kalamazoo, Mich., youngest angler to qualify, $49,150 for 305 pounds, and has placed in the money in every event fished.
* Jerry Wagner, 56, Fort Smith, Ark., $4,407.50 for 213 pounds.
* Jay Yales, 25, Brookeland, Texas, $17,990 in winnings for 461 pounds.