As we prepare for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic this month, it’s easy to overlook how the landscape for professional anglers from the western United States has changed over the past few decades. The full-time pros in this year’s Classic field include Brett Hite (Arizona), Jared Lintner (California), Justin Lucas (Alabama, but originally from California), Aaron Martens (same as Lucas), James Niggemeyer (Texas, but originally from California), Brandon Palaniuk (Idaho), Clifford Pirch (Arizona), Dean Rojas (California) and Skeet Reese (California). While Brian Snowden is typically associated with the Ozarks region, he too cut his bass-fishing teeth in California.
In the past, most western pros who wanted to make a run at the mostly-southeastern Bassmaster Tour moved to the east, like Gary Klein and Jay Yelas. There were a few holdouts, like Rich Tauber, Dave Gliebe, and Mike Folkestad, but they never approached the numbers that compete on the tours today. [Read more…]