KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — From massive fan attendance and viewership to the first Canadian champion, the 53rd edition of the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing has etched its name in the sportfishing record books.
The 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota reached 4.5 million viewers across the two days of FOX and FS1 coverage. The final hours of Championship Sunday’s Bassmaster LIVE coverage on FOX featured high drama as tournament leader Jeff Gustafson struggled with just two fish and scores of fans tuned in to see if the field could catch “Gussy,” leading to the most-watched Bassmaster telecast on any network since 2009 according to Nielsen numbers provided by FOX.
When the confetti cleared on Championship Sunday, Gustafson of Kenora, Ontario, was crowned the first Canadian Classic champion and just the second international champion — Japan’s Takahiro Omori took home the coveted title in 2004.
“I was totally wowed by the crowd inside Thompson-Boling Arena, all of the lights, the music … the whole spectacle. It was the highlight of my fishing career and really my life,” said Gustafson. “We have a lot of people in Canada who love bass fishing and a lot of good anglers who aren’t going to have the same chance that I did.”
Those who missed the live final weigh-in, which streamed on Bassmaster.com, could tune-in just hours later for the first-ever Super Six highlight show on FS1.
Host city Knoxville, Tenn., welcomed a staggering crowd of 163,914 fans to Classic Week activities, including Thursday’s Visit Knoxville Kickoff Party presented by TNT Fireworks, daily takeoffs, exciting weigh-in festivities and the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by the U.S. Army, which featured the first carbon-neutral venues in Classic history thanks to a partnership with the TVA.
“Hosting the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota was a huge honor for our destination,” said Chad Culver, senior director of the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission. “We are excited to regain the title of largest Classic ever with a total attendance of 163,914 throughout a weekend of events in Knoxville. All of our local partners enjoy working with the team at B.A.S.S. who continue to do all facets of their events at a very high level.”
Bassmaster.com and the B.A.S.S. social media channels also broke records for engagement as fans devoured content on the web and social channels. During the 2023 Bassmaster Classic, records were set for social media impressions, engagement and video views as well as BassTrakk page views and streams of Bassmaster LIVE coverage — 1.2 million streams for more than 32.7 million minutes across Bassmaster.com, Tubi and the FOX Sports digital platforms.
“The record numbers for digital engagement really show the passion of our fans,” said Jim Sexton, B.A.S.S. vice president of digital. “Fans were obsessed, checking BassTrakk more than 4.7 million times while also closely following some of the fun stories of our anglers and the city of Knoxville highlighted on social.”
2023 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: Academy Sports + Outdoors
2023 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsor: Toyota
2023 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2023 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: U.S. Army
2023 Bassmaster Classic Local Partners: Calhoun’s, Lithium Pros, Tennessee Tourism, TNT Fireworks, TVA
2023 Bassmaster Classic Host: Visit Knoxville
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, 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 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.