LAKE CONROE, TX -- The Toyota Texas Bass Classic, a Professional Anglers Association- sanctioned event, returns to Lake Conroe Oct. 1 - 3. The competition benefits Texas Parks & Wildlife Department efforts to introduce young people and urban families to fishing and the outdoors.
Anglers will depart daily from Papa’s on the Lake, 14632 Highway 105, Conroe, beginning at 7 a.m. Admission is free to the take-offs, and the public is invited. Weigh-ins and other activities will be held at the Lone Star Convention Center, 9055 Airport Road, in Conroe; gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Driving directions, maps and a schedule of activities can be found at the event web site, www.toyotatexasbassclassic.com.
TTBC contributions to TPWD programs will reach $1 million this year. Projects funded include the Neighborhood Fishin’ Program, which provides close-to-home fishing in Texas cities from Amarillo to Dallas to Austin to Houston and more; the Texas division of Wildlife Forever’s State-Fish Art Contest, which uses art to engage students in the outdoors and conservation; and additional outdoor programs related to fishing.
The bass tournament offers a chance to see the world’s top anglers compete for the world championship and $420,000 in prizes, but it’s also a full-scale outdoor expo with vendors and outdoor activity area as well as live music by top names in country music. Advance prices for tickets are $15 per day ($20 at the gate), making the TTBC the best entertainment bargain around. Tickets include access to tournament weigh-ins as well as all activities and concerts. To make the deal even sweeter and stress Toyota’s commitment to engaging young people in the outdoors, kids 17 and under will be admitted free with a ticketed adult.
The TPWD Outdoor Adventures Area will feature an archery range, Wildlife CSI, rockclimbing, fishing-related displays and activities, Toyota ShareLunker display of replicas of the biggest bass ever caught in Texas and other exhibits and activities. There will be a variety of food and beverages available at the onsite concession stands, and visitors can shop for everything from fishing tackle to a new bass boat in the vendor area.
Lake Conroe is a showcase for TPWD’s fisheries and habitat management efforts. Native vegetation is being planted in the lake to improve water quality, prevent erosion and provide high quality habitat for fish and other wildlife. This habitat—food and shelter—for young bass is the cornerstone of largemouth bass production, increasing the survival and growth of fish that have the potential to become Toyota ShareLunkers, bass that weigh 13 pounds or more. Lake Conroe is the fourth-best bass lake in the state in the number of Toyota ShareLunker catches, and anglers will be hoping to bring a ShareLunker to the weigh-in stage.
Because of TPWD’s efforts to improve bass habitat across the state, the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership will hold its national convention at Lake Conroe in conjunction with this year’s TTBC. Some 50 conservation leaders from across the nation will discuss fish habitat needs and issues in reservoir systems and visit a state-of-the-art fish habitat improvement project at Lake Conroe that is a joint effort among TPWD, the San Jacinto River Authority, and the Seven Coves Bass Club.
Another important factor in developing a trophy bass fishery like Lake Conroe is letting bass grow to the age at which they can achieve maximum size. Anglers have almost complete control over this factor by proper handling of fish and by releasing them after the catch. The format of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic promotes bass survival by having all fish weighed in the boat as soon as they are caught, then immediately released. The only exception to this is that each angler may retain one fish 21 inches or longer to be brought to the weigh-in each day for a special big bass contest. These fish will be cared for by TPWD biologists and released following the weigh-in.
Activities at the Outdoor Adventures Area will continue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s concert begins at 1:30 p.m. and will feature country music legend Tracy Lawrence. The headline concert will start at 5:30 following the second round weigh-in with Academy of Country Music Award winner Blake Shelton performing. Sunday’s concerts will feature performances by emerging country artist Jeff Allen and the hit group Montgomery Gentry, with the final round weigh-ins taking place between the concerts.
Fireworks displays will follow both the Saturday and Sunday concerts.
Advance daily tickets are available for $15 each through the tournament web site, www.toyotatexasbassclassic.com, and at all HEB stores in Texas as well as Academy Sports + Outdoors locations in the Houston area.
Youth ages 17 and under will be admitted free with a ticketed adult. All active military, police, fire and EMS personnel will be admitted free with proper identification.
A minimum of $250,000 from the event will go toward a donation to benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department programs. “Our primary goal with this tournament is to raise funds and awareness for TPWD’s educational and conservation activities,” said Dan Friedkin, TTBC co-founder and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commissioner. In the past three years the Toyota Texas Bass Classic has provided $750,000 to help fund TPWD programs like the Neighborhood Fishin’ Program, the Texas State-Fish Art Contest and other youth and urban fishing and outreach efforts; those donations will reach the $1 million mark this year.
Title sponsor for the event is Toyota. Tournament partners include U.S. Reel, Evan Williams, Waste Management, Ikon, Academy Sports + Outdoors, HEB, Evinrude, Coors Light, 100.3 KILT, Sports 610 Radio, Legend Boats, Spaw-Maxwell, Professional Anglers Association, La Toretta Lake Resort, FSN, Mustang Caterpillar, City of Conroe, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Papa’s on the Lake and the San Jacinto River Authority.