35th Annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic arrives

Editor's Note: Streaming video of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are available on www.ESPN360.com, ESPN's customized broadband service. Coverage is offered to BASS INSIDER members and ESPN360 customers. To join BASS INSIDER, visit www.BassInsider.com. The best of 2004 weigh-ins along with features and daily re-caps will be available on ESPN360 throughout the Classic.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Nearly four weeks after practicing — and a year of preparing — 47 of the nation's top bass anglers are in Pittsburgh and ready to pursue their biggest dreams during this week's CITGO Bassmaster Classic on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.

ESPN and ESPN2 will devote 12 hours of coverage to the event, July 29 - 31.

The pros were on the Classic waters nearly a month ago for the official five-day scouting period where they laid the foundation of this week's Super Bowl of bass fishing.

A majority of the pros arrived early to fish with young anglers in the second annual Junior Bassmaster World Championship Monday on the Allegheny River at John P. Murtha Park in Kittanning. Scott Gettings of West Warwick, R.I., and Joey Nania of Liberty Lake, Wash., won their age divisions, earning a Triton boat and scholarship money. Gettings fished with Arkansas pro Jimmy Mize and Nania teamed with 2001 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam.

But those pros and the others now turn their attention toward fishing's big show. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, anglers will scour about 100 miles of river in search of enough big bass to claim the $200,000 Classic winner's purse and a piece of professional fishing immortality.

"This is what we gear up the whole season for every year," said Alabama's Tim Horton, a past CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year making his sixth consecutive Classic appearance. "I'm really looking forward to this one because it's going to be so tight. In years past, we usually have four or five guys that really have a shot. This year, you're going to have 10 to 12 guys going into the last day that have a realistic shot at winning it. To me, that puts a little bit more excitement into it."

The three-day tournament is Classic week's crowning jewel, but there's more events surrounding it, including the Bassmaster Family Fest on Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to noon at Point State Park. There's also the nation's premier tackle and outdoors gear consumer show, the Classic ESPN Outdoors Expo presented by Under Amour, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Friday through Sunday.

Fishing fans can meet their favorite pros during an autograph session at Family Fest and see them again at the 7 a.m. launch each morning at Point State Park and the daily weigh-ins at Mellon Arena, beginning at 2:45 p.m.

An angler practice day is scheduled for Wednesday, followed by a day off Thursday. BASS has scheduled a media conference Thursday at 2 p.m. when the organization will reveal the results of the Greatest Angler Debate presented by John Deere and also provide more details on the newly established Women's Bassmaster Tour.

The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will receive unprecedented coverage on
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ESPN and ESPN2 this year. A total of 12 hours of programming will be devoted to Classic tournament coverage July 29-31.