The bass fishing season that will culminate with the 2009 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., Feb. 20-22, is finally over! The last of 51 qualifiers is now crowned, ticketed and Bayou State bound. His name is David Williams, he lives in Maiden, N.C., and will be fishing in his first Classic.
Williams pocketed $100,000 as the winner of the Toyota Tundra Weekend Series Championship operated by American Bass Anglers.
With the Classic qualifiers now set, fifty-one anglers will be appearing on fishing's biggest stage, vying for $500,000 in first place prize money and the admiration and envy of millions of bass fishing fans.
Here is your 2009 Bassmaster Classic field:
Defending Champion (1)
Alton Jones, Waco, Texas
Elite Series Qualifiers (36)
Women's Bassmaster Tour (1)
Kim Bain, Alabaster, Ala.
Weekend Series (1)
David Williams, Maiden, N.C.
Williams brings the total number of Classic rookies to 13 (Hudgins, Velvick, Herren, Pugh, Burns, Bain, the six Federation Nation anglers and Williams). There are seven former Classic champs in the field (Jones, 2008; VanDam, 2001 and 2005; Iaconelli, 2003; Davis, 1995; Duckett, 2007; Hite, 1999; and Clunn, 1976, 1977, 1984 and 1990) and nine former Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Anglers of the Year (VanDam, 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2008; Reese, 2007; Iaconelli, 2006; Davis, 1995, 1998 and 2001; Martens, 2005; Horton, 2000; Klein, 1989 and 1993; Hite, 1997 and 2002; and Clunn, 1988).
Alabama leads the way with nine Classic qualifiers in 2009. Texas has seven and Florida six. Bain will be the first woman to ever fish the Classic.
For the 39th consecutive year, the state of Arkansas will be represented at the Classic, this time by three qualifiers (McClelland, Davis and Rook). The Natural State is the only one to send a qualifier to every Classic. North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas have sent qualifiers in every year but one.
Texas added to its record total of Classic qualifiers with seven more entries this year, bringing its tally to 263, nearly a hundred better than second-place Arkansas.
Jay Evans will be just the second Montanan to fish the Classic, and Jami Fralick, fishing his second championship, remains the only South Dakotan to qualify.
Only one Louisianan, Greg Hackney, qualified to fish the championship in his home state. He'll be an early favorite to take home the hardware and half-million dollar check. In the history of the Classic, only one angler has won in his home state. That occurred in 2007 when Alabama's Boyd Duckett won on Lay Lake.
Casey Ashley will be the youngest angler fishing the Classic. He'll turn 25 just a few weeks before the event. Rick Clunn will be oldest at 62.
If he can win his fifth title, Clunn will eclipse Woo Daves' record as the oldest Classic champ. Daves was 54 years, 2 months and 28 days old when he won the 2000 title. Florida's Bernie Schultz could also break Daves' record with his first BASS win. He'll be three months older than Daves was when the next Classic ends.
No one in the field can break Stanley Mitchell's record as youngest Classic champ. Mitchell was 21 years, 5 months and 19 days old when he won in 1981.
Clunn will break his own record for most Classics fished with 32 while another BASS great, Gary Klein, can break his own record of Classic futility if he fails to win in 2009. He already holds the record for most appearances without a win at 26.