Bassmaster Classic returns to the Mississippi River Delta

This story was originally posted the Vanishing Paradise blog.

By Lacey McCormick, National Wildlife Federation

The Mississippi River Delta is one of the best places on earth to catch monster largemouth bass. If America’s anglers didn’t know that before, they certainly discovered it last year when Kevin van Dam shattered the previous Bassmaster Classic stringer record at the 2011 Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin

Last night, the Vanishing Paradise team was honored to have the opportunity to make a presentation to executives at B.A.S.S. and the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation conservation directors about the work we are doing to rally hunters and anglers nationwide to support restoration of the Mississippi River Delta. We were particularly delighted when B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin got up before our talk and discussed the importance of restoring the delta and supporting organizations like Vanishing Paradise.

Anglers who know the region intuitively grasp the need for restoration. As Kevin van Dam said before last year’s Classic:

“The first time I fished [the delta] was in the late 1990s and I was blown away by the quality of the fisheries. I’ve fished here a half a dozen times since then. … Each time, I’m just stunned at the changes. Areas that used to be marsh are now just open bay.”

Bassmaster competitor Mike Iaconelli

Vanishing Paradise wants to thank Van Dam as well as the other Bassmaster competitors who have signed our letter to Congress, including Mike Iaconelli, Skeet Reese, Stephen Browning, Cliff Pace, Greg Hackney, Brent Chapman, Edwin Evers, Todd Faircloth, Mark Davis and Terry Butcher.

Mike Iaconelli is one angler who knows the delta well — he won the 2003 Bassmaster Classic there, after all — and he is a strong and vocal supporter of coastal restoration:

“If you hunt, if you fish, if you just love the outdoors, it’s important to step up and care about this problem. The thing is we’ve got a way to fix it, we’ve got a solution. … We’ve got the Mississippi River, which is one of the main things we can use to bring the marsh back.”

Seven-time Bassmaster Classic competitor Stephen Browning agrees, saying anglers everywhere can play a role in speaking up for the delta:

“We can spread the message to the rest of the country, to our congressmen and senators. Hopefully the right person’s eyes will be opened, and we can get something started.

Watch Kevin Van Dam, Mike Iaconelli and Stephen Browning discuss the need to restore the delta:

Restoration Wins Big at 2011 Bassmaster Classic


The 2012 Bassmaster Classic starts today and continues through Sunday (Feb. 24-26).