While the focus of the first two days of BASSfest in Dayton, Tenn., is focused on the pro anglers out on Lake Chickamauga, on Friday much of the activity will be centered around the Dayton Boat Dock and everyday fishermen looking to get better.
Some of the top pros competing this week will be teaching the tricks of their trade in a series of seminars called Bassmaster University, which is sponsored by Nationwide Insurance. The instructional series will held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Point Park in Dayton and will be free and open to the public.
BASS vice president of events and sponsor activations Angie Thompson said that fishing instruction sharing of knowledge is part of what makes competitive angling such a sepcial sport.
"Our sport is so unique because the fans also participate," she said. "A big motivation for the fans who consume our media is to learn to become better fishermen. What better way to learn than from the best anglers in the country."
The unique format of BASSfest makes it possible for the competing pros to take part in Bassmaster University in the middle of their week of competition. Following today's second round of competition, the field of 140 pro anglers will be narrowed to 50 for Saturday's semifinals, but those outside the top 50 will be competing Friday on Nickajack Lake in a one-day second-chance qualifier with 10 final spots in Saturday's competition on the line.
This leaves the 50 top anglers free Friday to interact with fans and share some of their wisdom about fishing for anyone who wants to improve their skills.
Among the topics to be covered at the Bassmaster University in the half-hour seminars are "Don't Overlook Prop Baits," "How To Take a Novice Fishing," "Fishing Deep Structure," "Ph.D. in Spinnerbaiting" and "Bass Tech -- Motors."
Thompson said that the Bassmaster staff has worked to make sure that the topics covered by the pros will be most useful to anglers who fish in this area and especially on Lake Chickamauga, which was recently ranked No. 7 in Bassmaster Magazine's list of 100 Best Bass Lakes for 2014.
"When we put together topics for the seminars, we tried to keep in mind that we want these guys to talk about presentation techniques and tackle and all the things that will be relevant to fishing the kinds of lakes in this area," she said. "It will be a great opportunity for any regular angler to come out from a beginner to a kid to a very seasoned angler to learn from these guys and have some one-on-one time with them."
In addition to Bassmaster University, fans who come out to Dayton will be able to explore a vender expo area all weekend with the latest in fishing tackle and equipment. And they will get to watch the weigh-ins of the pro tournament as well as some top collegiate fishing teams competing in the two-day Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Eastern Regional on Watts Bar Lake today and Friday.
After Wednesday's opening day of BASSfest, Thompson said that Dayton was shaping up to be a fantastic host for the event, which is bringing many Bassmaster pros to Southeast Tennessee and Lake Chickamauga for the first time.
"We've been looking forward to this event for about a year," she said. "Everything has gone very very well, and the people here are tremendous. I think all the anglers and the BASS staff would all agree that we've got a great welcome from everybody.
"On top of the fact that the fishing world class, the fact that the community is so nice and welcoming makes us feel like we're among family."
Contact Jim Tanner at email@example.com or 423-757-6478. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JFTanner.