PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. — Broadcasting live from an open-air stage on the shore of the Red River — or what they jokingly referred to as “the frozen tundra of Shreveport” — ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning host Mike Golic and occasional co-host Erik Kuselias brought the Friday morning kickoff of the 39th Bassmaster Classic to fans across the country.

Bundled up, breath visible against the 30-degree air, Golic and Kuselias talked up the Classic competition during Friday’s live broadcast from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. CT from the Classic launch site, Red River South Marina.

The morning freeze didn’t keep fans from turning out to see the 51 competitors begin the three-day hunt for bass fishing’s most prestigious title and the Classic’s $500,000 first-place prize. The Mike & Mike in the Morning co-hosts also endured the cold with good humor.

“It’s a fun event, I like coming down and doing this, we have a good time with it — and we will warm up,” said Kuselias, who was sitting in for Golic’s regular co-host, Mike Greenberg.

“It’s not often that this time of the morning we get to do live events,” Golic said.

As competitor boats lined up to launch into the Red River, the hosts brought Classic competitor Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., onto the set for an interview. The 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year nimbly fielded questions, which included one from Golic on VanDam’s Classic strategy.

“After the first day, if I see that somebody’s got a big lead, I’m going to change my game plan for the next day,” said VanDam, and two-time Classic champion. “I’ll know I’ve got to make up ground. I take some big chances. The great thing about this event is … we’re here to fish for half a million dollars, so it’s all or nothing.”

ESPN Radio and ESPN2 carried Friday’s broadcast. It was the second Classic gig for Mike & Mike in the Morning. Golic and Kuselias also teamed up in 2008 for the Classic on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.

EXPO OPENS: At noon Friday, the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods opened in the Shreveport Convention Center for a three-day run showcasing the newest in fishing tackle, boats, and outdoor gear of every description.

At the Bassmaster booth, fans kept up with the Classic leaderboard. The unofficial weight postings originated from Classic competitors’ boats, from which official observers estimated the poundage of each catch and relayed the data using BASS’ innovative BassTrakk technology.

The BASS booth is also where some of the live “behind-the-scenes” broadcasts on Bassmaster.com originate. On Friday, scores of Expo attendees watched as hosts Jerry McKinnis and Rob Russo broadcast the first of the many live-cam productions planned throughout the Classic. (A full live-cam schedule is available at Bassmaster.com.)

BASS founder Ray Scott is slated to be at the BASS booth at various times throughout the Classic.

The Expo will continue through Sunday. Weekend hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

A BERKLEY DREAM TRIP: A local 13-year-old boy won a fishing trip with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., through A Dream Come True, a competition presented by Berkley, an official sponsor of the Bassmaster Classic.

Kent Cella of Shreveport, La., was selected for the trip with Kriet from nominations submitted by local bass clubs.

Kriet will take Cella fishing Saturday on the Red River, returning in time for the Classic weigh-in. Cella will be brought up on the Classic stage to receive a Berkley tackle pack and will be recognized for his fishing achievements, which include winning the Junior Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in the 18-and-under age group in 2007 and 2008, and winning nine out of the 13 Junior Bassmaster tournaments in which he’s competed.

“This program was a good opportunity to show youth just how exciting competitive fishing can be,” said Jill Harms, Berkley’s marketing manager.

BIG AIR: Dogs apparently don’t mind a dip in the pool on a winter afternoon, as was proved Friday afternoon in front of the CenturyTel Center in Bossier City in the hours before the Classic’s weigh-in show began at 3:30 p.m. inside the arena.

DockDogs presented by SpongeTech.com is offering Classic fans a chance to enter their dogs in three competition disciplines this weekend: Big Air Open Wave (distance), Speed Retrieve Wave (retrieval) and Extreme Vertical (high jump). Entrants can choose to participate in the final day’s IronDog Event Ranking.

Anyone who wants to enter their dog is welcome, said DockDogs’ Teresa Reeves, and participants don’t have to be serious competitors.

“They can come out just to play around if they want to, maybe compete in just one discipline,” she said.

Scores of Classic fans waiting for CenturyTel Center doors to open for Friday’s weigh-in gathered to watch the dogs fly off the ramp into the 40-foot pool.

The canine competitions will continue Saturday and Sunday starting at 8:30 a.m. CT. Entry and fee information is available at www.dockdogs.com.

CHARGED UP: Fully submersed in a tank at the OPTIMA Batteries booth at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo is a marine battery — and it’s powering an Attwood bilge pump and MotorGuide Varimax trolling motor.

Why?

“This shows that our batteries are sealed, maintenance-free, environmentally friendly — and can get you out of deep trouble,” said Jimi Day of FM3 Performance Marketing, OPTIMA’s marketing partner.

Besides a submerged battery, other attractions operating at the OPTIMA booth include the OPTIMA Trivia Contest. Throughout the day, booth visitors are challenged to answer trivia questions. The first person to answer a question correctly wins a hat or can cooler.

To play, one does not have to be a Jeopardy quiz-show junky. All trivia questions stem from something happening or being displayed at the OPTIMA booth, Day said.

Other booth attractions include a once-a-day drawing for a free battery, and an offer of a $20 rebate on a battery purchased from one of the retailers at the Expo. The rebate program is an exclusive Classic Expo offer, and won’t be available to other consumers until later this year, according to Day.

This is the first year for OPTIMA as an official sponsor of the Bassmaster Classic. A maker of vehicle, fishing, boating and recreational batteries, the Milwaukee, Wis.-based company is a sponsor of the Bassmaster Elite Series.

BOOYAH GIVEAWAY: Official Classic sponsor BOOYAH Bait Co. will be giving away more than $4,000 worth of lures and apparel to fans who enter to win at the company’s booth at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Shreveport Convention Center.

Drawings will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at BOOYAH’s Expo booth. Each day, four prize packages of BOOYAH and YUM merchandise valued at $500 each will be awarded the lucky fans whose names are drawn.

Also, throughout the three-day Expo, BOOYAH will be hosting appearances by nine pros, including Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston, who own five Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles between them.

Fans are invited to challenge Bassmaster Elite Series pros Zell Rowland and Matt Reed to a game of Flipstah, a test of flipping and pitching skills.

In the evenings — after they weigh in their day’s catch in the Classic competition — Elite pros Tim Horton, Edwin Evers, Terry Scroggins and Dave Wolak will be at the booth, along with 2008 Classic champion and fellow Elite pro Alton Jones.

ESPN2, ESPN360.com and Bassmaster.com will provide extensive coverage of the three-day competition, while ESPN Classic will feature five hours of Bassmaster Classic specials Sunday, Feb. 22, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Schedules are posted at www.Bassmaster.com.

Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, Booyah Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.

About BASS

For 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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Media Contact:
Doug Grassian
(407) 566-2213
doug.grassian@espn.com