The Bassmaster Classic is more than just a fishing tournament. It's a big show.
From the anglers who will be riding their boats into Tulsa's BOK Center like gladiators on chariots to the huge Outdoor Expo that will be held across the street, the Bassmaster Classic is a spectacle.
For Joe Armold of Yantis, Texas, this week's Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake and in Tulsa will be his 22nd to attend.
“My wife claims Ray Scott is her boyfriend,” Armold said of the founder of B.A.S.S. and the Bassmaster Classic.
On Sunday, the drama will build inside the BOK Center as the angler in the lead will take the hot seat until another guy weighs in and bumps him off. At stake is $500,000 for the champion.
Armold will be one of the thousands of people who will be traveling to Oklahoma this week for the Bassmaster Classic.
“That's kind of our vacation,” Armold said of attending the Bassmaster Classic every year. “The Classic changed after ESPN bought it (in 2001). The first one ESPN put on was the most screwed up affair I have ever been to.”
In 2010, ESPN sold BASS to a group of investors that included fishing icon Jerry McKinnis, longtime host of the ESPN series “The Fishin' Hole.” Armold said since that sale, the Bassmaster Classic has become a better show.
“It's more geared to the public instead of just trying to make some money,” he said.
Jim Loshbough of Elkhart, Ind., will be attending his sixth Bassmaster Classic. He likes to meet the pros and attend the Outdoor Expo.
“I like to see all the new stuff,” he said. “I walked into the show part of the Classic last year and talked to three different pros in 10 minutes.”
Loshbough has met people from all over the country at the Bassmaster Classic.
“For anybody interested in bass fishing, it's worth the price of admission,” he said, noting that both the weigh-ins and the Outdoor Expo are free.