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Bassmaster Classic set to invade Tulsa

Thousands will flock to see the sport's biggest event
by Ed Godfrey Published: February 16, 2013

Michael Zaleski of Muskogee won't have to travel as far to attend this year's Bassmaster Classic.

“I try to get to as many as I can,” he said.

Zaleski goes to learn as much as he can about catching bass.

“I love the fact that it's here (in Oklahoma),” Zaleski said. “I got friends coming up from Dallas that are going to be my guests.

“I really worry if there is going to be enough parking for everybody. Around the BOK Center, there isn't a lot of parking, and if they have crowds like they've have had in Shreveport and elsewhere, it's going to be tough.”

Edmund and Mary Skarke of Tulsa would normally drive their motor home to the Bassmaster Classic.

The couple has gone to so many Bassmaster Classics that Mary Skarke doesn't know for sure how many. More than 20, she thinks.

“We enjoyed them,” she said. “Back when he was fishing, we liked Jimmy Houston. And the one now who is winning a lot (Kevin VanDam), we enjoyed watching him, too.”

Mary said her husband was surprised when it was announced a year ago that the Bassmaster Classic was coming to Oklahoma.

Edmund Skarke was looking forward to attending, but the 86-year-old lifetime BASS member died from prostate cancer in June.

Still, Mary Skarke hopes to go to the BOK Center with her sons at least one day of the tournament, hopefully for Sunday's last day.

It will be her first Bassmaster Classic without her husband of 59 years by her side.

“We used to go every day (of the tournament),” she said. “Going anywhere without him is hard.”

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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When: Friday through Sunday

Where: Grand Lake O' the Cherokees

Launch site: Wolf Creek Park, 7 a.m. each day

Weigh-ins: BOK Center in Tulsa. Doors open at 3 p.m. each day

Admission: Free

Anglers: It's a 53-man field that is cut to the top 25 for the final day of fishing on Sunday.

Oklahomans in the field: Edwin Evers of Talala, Tommy Biffle of Wagoner and Jason Christie of Park Hill

Top prize: $500,000 to the winner

Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo: Friday through Sunday at the Tulsa Convention Center. Hours are noon until 8 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.


Super Retriever Series: The dog jumping competition is Friday through Sunday at the Tulsa Convention Center. It begins at noon on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Daisy Inflatable Shooting Education Range: Friday through Sunday at the Tulsa Convention Center in the Outdoor Games Zone.

Timberworks Lumberjack Show: The timber skills contests will take place before the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday at the BOK Center. Doors open at 3 p.m.

Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Exhibition: Two-man college teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will fish Sunday for a trophy with weigh-in at the BOK Center.

Gene Larew tour: The Tulsa bait company, located on the east side of Tulsa on historic Route 66, is having an open house Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Visitors can watch and learn how Larew bass lures and Bobby Garland crappie baits are made. Also, previous Bassmaster Classic competitors and crappie pros will be at the open house to meet and visit with fans.

Also attending will be former Oklahoma State University football star and avid bass angler Rashaun Woods. For more information, visit


The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) was founded in 1967 by Montgomery, Ala., insurance salesman Ray Scott, who envisioned hundreds of bass anglers competing against each other in tournaments.

As a result, the hobby of bass fishing was transformed into a sport and big business. In 1967, Scott organized what is believed to be the first professional bass tournament on Beaver Lake in Arkansas.

In 1968, Bassmasters Magazine was first published, and three years later, Scott organized the first Bassmaster Classic. Bobby Murray of Hot Springs, Ark., was the inaugural champion and won $10,000.

Oklahoma has never officially hosted a Bassmaster Classic before. The 1979 Bassmaster Classic was held on Lake Texoma, but the tournament wasn't the headline-grabber that it is now.

And since the 25 anglers in the field were launching out of Pottsboro, Texas, it was considered a Texas tournament, even though most of Lake Texoma is in Oklahoma.

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