NC angler qualifies for 2nd Bassmaster Classic appearance
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jake Whitaker of Fairview, N.C., overcame an inconsistent season and had to win a tiebreaker to become the last angler to qualify for the Academy Sports-Outdoors Bassmaster Classic, presented by Huk.
“My 2019 season had a few high points, but they were unfortunately over shadowed with some poor finishes,” Whitaker said. “I struggled putting together two successful days at most of the tournaments and that’s the reason for my mediocre season. You can’t have bad days when fishing against the best fishermen in the world.”
After a disappointing season and 26th-place finish in the last event of the regular season, Whitaker entered the Toyota Angler of the Year Championship on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair, two points outside of the Classic cutline.
“After being on the bubble for Classic qualification almost all season, the last tournament on Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma was the first moment that I thought I would not qualify,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker rallied at the tournament, weighing in 56 pounds, 2 ounces for the three-day event, but this left him in a tie for 43rd place with Garrett Paquette of Canton, Mich., in the Angler of the Year points standings. The tiebreaker was most weight on full-field competition days over the course of the season, which Whitaker won by eight pounds. Those eight pounds earned Whitaker his second consecutive invitation to the Bassmaster Classic.
“The Bassmaster Classic is the pinnacle of tournament bass fishing,” said Whitaker. “Qualifying for this tournament is one of the hardest things you can do in sportfishing. Making my second Classic appearance in two years is a huge accomplishment in my career.”
The 50th edition of the Bassmaster Classic will pit 53 of the world’s best bass anglers against each other as they compete for a purse of over $1 million. The three-day competition and Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo March 6-8 will attract thousands of fans to Birmingham, Ala., and Lake Guntersville.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 510,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2 and The Pursuit Channel), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.