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What to Expect at the 2023 Bassmaster Classic

The 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic is headed to Knoxville, Tennessee. Here are some faces to keep an eye out for on the Tennessee River.

MassmasterTakeoff in downtown Knoxville at the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series; (photo/B.A.S.S.)
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As the 2023 Bassmaster Classic approaches, the bass fishing season has already been well underway, and the excitement is felt throughout the industry. Preparation began last season, and that work is about to make someone a Bassmaster Classic Champion.

Anglers qualify to fish the Bassmaster Classic championship event in several ways. The majority make it via the 2022 Elite Series Progressive Angler of the Year standings. Additionally, anglers vying to qualify for the Elite Series in 2022 earned a Classic berth by either winning a Bassmaster Open tournament or the overall Opens points race. The final spots are awarded to the winner of the Bassmaster College Bracket: three spots for B.A.S.S. Nation winners and one spot for the 2022 Bassmaster Team Championship winner.

The Classic is hosted by the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission with daily 7:15 a.m. EDT takeoffs from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville. Weigh-ins begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT in Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus.

The three-day tournament takes place on the Tennessee River on March 24-26, 2023.

Author’s Note: If you’re the betting type, you might want to place your chips on a Brandon for the win.

Who to Watch for at the 2023 Bassmaster Classic

Bassmaster Classic
Brandon Lester enters at the 2022 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell; (photo/Justin Brouillard)

Brandon Lester

Finishing sixth place at the Knoxville Classic in 2019, Brandon Lester is fresh off one of his best Elite Series seasons ever in 2022. He took a win on Pickwick Lake and a Bassmaster Open victory, to boot. The Tennessee angler has fished the River system his entire career and has the experience and drive to get the job done.

Brandon Palaniuk

The 2022 Bassmaster Progressive Angler of the year, Brandon Palaniuk, has a track record of qualifying for the “super bowl” of bass fishing. He’ll be making his 12th appearance in 2023. The Rathdrum, Idaho, angler has a decorated B.A.S.S. career and is seemingly only missing a Classic victory.

Card and Cobb — The Other Brandons

Both Brandon Card and Brandon Cobb are no strangers to cashing checks at the highest level of professional fishing.

Brandon Card

Brandon Card - Bassmaster
Brandon Card battles a bass on the Tennessee River; (photo/B.A.S.S.)

Card was the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the year, working his way to the top through the Bassmaster College Series. He finished fourth at the same venue in 2021 and has cashed numerous checks on the Tennessee River throughout his career. He’s at home on this water, and with experience fishing five previous Classics, his sixth could be his best yet.

Brandon Cobb

Brandon Cobb Bassmater
Brandon Cobb earned his first Bassmaster Elite Series win at Lake Hartwell in 2019; (photo/B.A.S.S.)

Brandon Cobb moved to B.A.S.S. in 2019 after a successful career with another pro-level circuit, capturing two Elite Series victories in his first four events. Since then, he’s placed in the money in 45 of 56 events. Cobb has enough experience to be dangerous at any given time and is one of the best anglers on tour fishing around the spawn.

Carl Jocumsen’s Lifelong Dream Comes True

Carl Jocumsen - Bassmaster Classic
Carl Jocumsen battles a bass that helped him win his first Bassmaster Elite Series event at Lake Tenkiller in 2019; (photo/B.A.S.S.)

Since he was just a kid, Carl Jocumsen wanted nothing more than to hear his name called as he entered the stadium to weigh fish at the Bassmaster Classic. Now, his lifelong dream of walking the Classic stage is about to come true. Not only did he put together one of his most consistent Bassmaster Elite Series seasons in 2022, but the Australian angler is off to his best start ever in 2023. He’ll hopefully be carrying that momentum to this familiar body of water, located essentially in the backyard of his second home

His famed slogan, “Fear My Heart,” is a testament he has lived by on his journey as a professional angler. He aims to help people overcome self-doubt while building confidence to unlock their ultimate potential with heart. Jocumsen is primed and ready for the big moment. He’ll be as prepared as any angler can be going into the official practice period next week.

Seth Feider’s Time to Shine

Seth Feider - Bassmaster Classic
Seth Feider won the 2021 Angler of the Year title and is confident in targeting both species of bass; (photo/Justin Brouillard)

Minnesota angler Seth Feider has been the definition of consistent over the last two Elite Series seasons, including winning the 2021 Angler of the Year title. He has proven he can successfully catch both smallmouth and largemouth bass consistently, and both species could play at the Classic. If any angler has the ability to fish for the win as if second place is not an option, it’s definitely Feider.

Canada Well Represented at the Bassmaster Classic

With the recent rise in Canadian anglers fishing the Elite Series, the chances of the Classic trophy trekking to the north are increasing — why not next week? With four anglers representing, it’s likely that one cracks the code and pushes for the win.

Jeff Gustafson

Jeff Gustafson - Bassmaster Classic
Jeff Gustafson lands a key smallmouth bass in route to his Tennessee River Elites Series victory in 2021; (photo/B.A.S.S.)

Jeff Gustafson is the easy choice in Knoxville, as he recently found victory on this exact same fishery in February of 2021. With conditions setting up a little differently this go around, the Keewatin, Ontario, angler has what it takes to fish for both species of bass in any condition. Gustafson has fished 42 Bassmaster events, cashing a check in all but one — and will certainly come out swinging in this tournament.

The Johnston Brothers

Similarly, Chris and Cory Johnston are always a threat. Both anglers are making their fourth-consecutive Classic appearance since joining the Elite Series in 2019. The big stage is never too big for these two Ontario anglers. Both have shown that they can get it done on any body of water.

Chris Johnston - Bassmaster
Chris Johnston won the 2020 Bassmaster Elites Series event on the St. Lawrence River, making him the first Canadian to win an Elite Series trophy; (photo/B.A.S.S.)

Cory has collected a check in 95% of the B.A.S.S. events he has fished, including a victory at a 2021 Bassmaster Open and two second-place finishes in Elite Series events. Chris was the first Canadian angler to win a Bassmaster Elite trophy with his 2020 victory. Like his brother, he has been one of the most consistent anglers on tour. Cashing a check in 46 of 47 B.A.S.S. events fished, including four second-place finishes, Chris has proven he can catch fish anywhere.

Cory Johnston - Bassmaster
Cory Johnston won the 2021 Bassmaster Open at 1000 Islands, his first B.A.S.S. victory; (photo/B.A.S.S.)


If you’re into bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic is a fun watch.

Like popular improv shows, the points gathered up to this point really don’t matter. At the end of the day, all they do is get these anglers up to qualify for the Classic. Once there, they can fish without worrying about angler of the year points. For some anglers, especially those who have qualified before, turning off that mentality is difficult. But, with a guaranteed paycheck, it’s a perfect opportunity to fish on total instinct, listen to your gut feeling, and just have fun.

For more information on attending, click here. Check back with us throughout the big week for updates and standings.

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