MONTGOMERY, Ala. Missouri's Brian Snowden barely missed qualifying for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer on Sunday when BASS Officials announced the list of 25 anglers who would receive invitations to the 34th Classic based on their performance in the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer.
But Snowden still has hope. If an angler who already qualified for the Classic through the Tour were to finish in the top 10 of the upcoming Bassmaster Elite 50 series, they would double qualify for the Classic and the next angler down on the list of Tour points could pack their bags for Charlotte, N.C., July 30 - Aug. 1.
"I've wanted to fish in the Classic since I was a little boy," Snowden said. "It would really be a lifelong dream accomplished."
Snowden has qualified for the Bassmaster Elite 50 and, therefore, still has some control over his destiny.
"I would much rather see myself get in the Classic with a top 10 finish in the Elite 50," Snowden said. "I missed it by one position the first year I fished BASS and it is something I would really like to do ... I think one of the guys fishing the Elite 50 that has already qualified will probably get in, but I'd rather do it myself, if that makes any sense."
Snowden has plenty of backing for his cause. One supporter is Arkansas' Mike McClelland. While Snowden still has a shot at the Classic through the Elite 50s, McClelland did not earn a spot in the new, $1.6 million, no-entry-fee series. He is fully dependant on double qualifiers to get him into the Classic, something that he is fairly confident they will do.
"I've been studying the numbers for a while and I think I've got all the scenarios played out," McClelland said, "I'm definitely sweating a little, but if you put your faith in the abilities of the anglers in the Elite 50, I feel pretty confident that I'll get in. I already told everyone that there will be no Classic qualifying parties until June 20th when I know for sure I'm in.
"I've only qualified for one Classic," McClelland added. "The excitement was so overwhelming that I didn't really focus on my fishing. I took the last year and a half off and coming back this year and being competitive with the rest of the anglers, I really want to get the chance to go back to the Classic and try to compete for a win."
The pressure is off Missouri pro Stacey King. King was the last person to qualify for the Classic through the Tour and will be making his 10th appearance in the big show.
"There's no question it's a relief to get in," King said. "It's quite a thrill to get back in, it's been a while since I've been in the Classic. We all want to go to the Classic. There are several guys in the next eight or 10 spots who are really hoping for some double qualifiers. It's a great experience and a great chance to make some big money."
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats and Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning.