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The 2009 Bassmaster Classic on Red River Shapes Up as Anyone's Game

 

With a field of 51 of the world's most accomplished anglers, the Feb. 20-22 Bassmaster Classic out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., comes with only one guarantee: three days of drama as the competitors battle for the coveted Classic crown and $500,000 first-place prize.
    The competition water is the Red River, known as a challenging fishery full of bass. Who will catch them three days in a row, amass the most weight and go home as victor of the 39th Classic?
    The fact is any one of the 51 anglers is more than capable of winning. That's one reason the Classic is the most talked-about, most anticipated competition in the sport.
    The field is diverse: 50 men, 1 woman; six past Classic champions and 12 Classic rookies; nine with at least one Angler of the Year title to their names; and representatives of 23 states, with Alabama topping the list with nine anglers (see list below).
    Each competitor possesses fishing skills and accomplishments that make him or her unique, yet several stand out for possessing traits no other 2009 Classic contender can claim. Among the unique qualifiers are:
 -Kim Bain-Moore of Alabaster, Ala.: As the first woman to compete in a Classic, Bain-Moore will command the spotlight. She qualified by winning the 2008 Women's Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year title. She also won the 2008 WBT Championship.
 -Alton Jones of Waco, Texas: He's the defending champion, but he said he's not feeling the pressure to repeat - at least not yet.
    "There's always pressure associated with the Classic," said Jones, a Elite Series pro. "Having won it, I understand better than ever the importance of winning a Bassmaster Classic. It heightens your drive to achieve something as lofty as a Classic win. It's every fisherman's dream.
    "Back-to-backs is an extremely difficult feat. It is kind of cool to be the only one in the field who has the chance to do that this year."
 -Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., on three counts: He'll be fishing a record 32nd Classic, he holds four Classic titles and he has achieved back-to-back Classic wins (1976, 1977). On all three points, Clunn, an Elite Series pro, stands far above any other angler in BASS history.
 -Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., on two counts: He is the reigning AOY and holds a total of four AOY titles, more than any other Classic angler. VanDam, with two Classic victories (2001 and 2005) and Clunn are the only 2009 crown contenders with multiple Classic wins to their names.
 -Timmy Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala.: Along with five other contenders, he will compete in his 10th Classic, but along with VanDam, the consistent Elite pro is the one of two anglers to string 10 Classic appearances in a row.
    "It's the biggest event of the year. You really start getting ramped up as it starts getting close, and it's close now. I'm looking forward to the Red River. It's a place I've struggled on in the past, but I've had some really good practice days, so hopefully I can put it together this year."
 -Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La.: Another Elite pro, he's the only home-state competitor.
    "I don't think that really gives me an advantage, but I am a river fisherman - I grew up fishing the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers," Hackney said. "The Red River is my favorite body of water in the state of Louisiana. It changes daily, there's plenty of water for anglers to fish and there are a lot of variables.
 "For many reasons, the Classic is different than any other tournament. It should be the easiest tournament to win. It only lasts for three days, there are only 51 competitors, but for some reason it's the hardest."
    The public is invited to daily launches at 7:15 a.m. CT, Feb. 20-22, at the Red River South Marina, Highway 71 South in Bossier City. Also free and open to the public, the daily weigh-ins will be at the CenturyTel Center, 2000 CenturyTel Center Drive, Bossier City. Doors will open each day at 3:30 p.m.

2009 Classic Field (alphabetical by state)

Alabama
 Kim Bain-Moore, Alabaster
 Boyd Duckett, Demopolis
 Matt Herren, Trussville
 Timmy Horton, Muscle Shoals
 Randy Howell, Springville
 Steve Kennedy, Auburn
 Kotaro Kiriyama, Moody
 Aaron Martens, Leeds
 Greg Pugh, Cullman
 Arizona Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City
v Arkansas
 Mark Davis, Mount Ida
 Mike McClelland, Bella Vista
 Scott Rook, Little Rock
 California Ish Monroe, Hughson
 Skeet Reese, Auburn
 Florida
 Shaw Grigsby, Gainesville
 Bryan Hudgins, Orange Park
 Bobby Lane, Lakeland
 Bernie Schultz, Gainesville
 Terry Scroggins, San Mateo
 Peter Thliveros, St. Augustine
 Georgia
 Waine Pittman, Villa Rica
 Iowa
 Terry Fitzpatrick, Waukon
 Kansas
 Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira
 Kentucky
 Kevin Wirth, Crestwood
 Louisiana
 Greg Hackney, Gonzales
 Michigan
 Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo
 Missouri
 Rick Clunn, Ava
 Brian Snowden, Reeds Spring
 Montana
 Jay Evans, Corvallis
 New Hampshire
 Scott Parker, Londonderry
 New Jersey
 Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede
 North Carolina
 Dustin Wilks, Rocky Mount
 Dave Wolak, Wake Forest
 Ohio
 Bill Lowen, North Bend
 Oklahoma
 Edwin Evers, Talala
 Kenyon Hill, Norman
 Fred Roumbanis, Bixby
 Pennsylvania
 Ken Baumgardner, Monongahela
 South Carolina
 Casey Ashley, Donalds
 Davy Hite, Ninety Six
 South Dakota
 Jami Fralick, Martin
 Texas
 Michael Burns, Plano
 Todd Faircloth, Jasper
 Alton Jones, Waco
 Kelly Jordon, Mineola
 Gary Klein, Weatherford
 Bryan Schmidt, Olney
 Byron Velvick, Del Rio
 Virginia
 Rick Morris, Lake Gaston
 

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