Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 11/07/2018

Story by Matt Pangrac

Moore, OK – The 2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship begins tomorrow on Pickwick Lake. On Saturday, the top three finishers will earn a spot in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic next March on the Tennessee River.   

When the Nation Championship concludes, the Bassmaster Classic field will be almost completely set, with the exception of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship winner that will be decided in December.  .  

Here’s at how the qualifying structure lays out for the 2019 Classic:   
Bassmaster Elite Series AOY qualifiers (35)
Classic Bracket champions (3)
Bassmaster Central Open qualifiers (3)
Bassmaster Eastern Open qualifiers (3)
Bassmaster Open Championship winner (1)
Previous Classic champion (1)
Texas Fest champion (1)
College Series Bracket champion (1)
Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship (1)
B.A.S.S. Nation Championship qualifiers (3)

As of November 7th, 2018, here’s who will be fishing in the 2019 Classic:  
1    Justin Lucas    820
2    Josh Bertrand    769
3    Bradley Roy    758
4    Ott DeFoe    727
5    Brent Chapman    715
6    Aaron Martens    714
7    Jacob Powroznik    695
8    Brandon Palaniuk694
9    Jacob Wheeler    690
10    Dean Rojas    690
11    Gerald Spohrer    665
12    Mark Daniels Jr.662
13    Kevin VanDam    658
14    Todd Faircloth    650
15    Casey Ashley    644
16    MiKE Iaconelli    642
17    Seth Feider    638
18    James Elam    637
19    Chris Zaldain    637
20    Brett Hite    636
21    Alton Jones Jr.    635
22    Andy Montgomery    634
23    Brent Ehrler    633
24    Cliff Pace    620
25    Jesse Wiggins    618
26    Jake Whitaker    617
27    Clifford Pirch    617
28    Roy Hawk    613
29    Edwin Evers    612
30    Skeet Reese    610
31    Randall Tharp    608
32    Micah Frazier    608
33    Jason Christie    605
34    Wesley Strader    604
35    Keith Poche    599
36 Jordan Lee (2018 Classic Champion)
37 Drew Benton (2018 Texas Fest Champion)
38 Chris Lane (Classic Bracket Winner)
39 Adrian Avena (Classic Bracket Winner)
40 Gerald Swindle (Classic Bracket Winner)
41 Jared Lintner (2018 Bassmaster Open Championship winner)
42 Brandon Lester (1st Place Bassmaster Eastern Opens)
43 Bobby Lane (2nd Place Bassmaster Eastern Opens)
44 Garrett Pauquette (3rd Place Bassmaster Eastern Opens)
45 Frank Talley (1st Place Bassmaster Central Opens)
46 Brad Whatley (2nd Place Bassmaster Central Opens)
47 Derek Hudnall (3rd Place Bassmaster Central Opens)
48 Nick Ratliff (Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Bracket Champion)
49 1st Place B.A.S.S. Nation Championship
50 2nd Place B.A.S.S. Nation Championship
51 3rd Place B.A.S.S. Nation Championship
52 1st Place Bassmaster Team Championship Bracket Winner  

In total, 43 anglers who fished on the Elite Series in 2018 will be competing in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic.  That number could jump to 44 after this week if defending B.A.S.S. Nation Champion, Caleb Sumrall, finishes in the top three on Pickwick.

Out of the 43 qualified anglers, 36 of them are fishing the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour in 2019, meaning this will be their last Classic in the foreseeable future. To put that another way, roughly 84% of all the 2018 Elite Series anglers qualified for the 2019 Classic will be leaving the Elite Series and B.A.S.S. following the Classic.  

Seth Feider, Chris Zaldain, Jake Whitaker, Cliff Pirch, Micah Frazier, Drew Benton, and Brandon Lester are the only anglers in the 2019 Classic field who will be returning to the Elite Series in 2019.  

Out of the Open qualifiers, Derek Hudnall and Brad Whatley have announced their intentions to fish in the Elite Series in 2019, bringing the current total of anglers fishing in the 2019 Classic who will also be fishing on the 2019 Elite Series to nine.  That number may grow to a maximum of 12 depending on what the remaining Open qualifiers and B.A.S.S. Nation Champion decide this upcoming  season.  

Out of the 52 Classic qualifiers, the maximum number of anglers who will be fishing the Elite Series in 2019 is 12…or just 23% of the Classic field.   To put that into perspective, 45 of the 52 anglers (86%) in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell fished the Elite Series in 2018.