Bozeman, Mont. (March 26, 2023) – Simms Fishing Products, preeminent manufacturer of waders, outerwear, footwear, and technical apparel in fishing proudly announce the victory of Simms Pro, Jeff Gustafson in what is widely considered to be the most prestigious fishing tournament in the world — the Bassmaster Classic.
The 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic kicked off Friday March 24th, at Volunteer Landing in Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee and concluded at the weigh-ins that took place in the Thompson-Boiling Arena on the campus of the University of Tennessee on Championship Sunday.
Hailing from Kenora, Ontario, Simms Pro, Jeff Gustafson’s highly decorated nine-year career include highlights such as 11 top 20 finishes, one of which was first place at the Bassmaster Elite on the Tennessee River in 2021. When Gustafson launched at Volunteer Landing last Friday, he wasn’t simply aiming to double up on his success history on the Tennessee River, he was focused on fulfilling a childhood dream — winning the Super Bowl of fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
Flowing southwest from Knoxville, through East Tennessee into Chattanooga before crossing into Alabama, the Tennessee River is home to a healthy population of various bass species, most notably, largemouth and smallmouth. On day 1, a fleet of 55 of the best anglers in the world were greeted with hundreds of fans, favorable weather conditions, and stiff competition in the air. Throughout the day, Gustafson methodically worked his zones and managed to find a few solid flurries of action which resulted in a day 1 bag of 18.8 lbs., a mere pound over his closest competitor, Brandon Lester.
On day 2, Gustafson opted to stick with a technique that was working the day before, and also the same tactic he leaned on to win on the Tennessee River back in 2021 — moping. After his best spot from day 1 became cold, Gustafson motored to his second spot with two smallmouth in the well and high hopes of finding more cooperative fish elsewhere. By the time lines out was called, Gustafson filled his limit with three more smallmouth for a day 2 total weight of 17.3 lbs. and a two-day aggregate weight of 35.11 lbs.
On Championship Sunday, Gustafson set out in the first-place position with a 6 lb. lead over fellow Simms Pro, John Cox. To start his day, Gustafson continued with the tactic that put him in the lead – moping in deep water while using forward facing sonar with a Z-Man Jerk Shad. Compared to the previous two days, the water jumped up in temperature and his tried and true method waned in effectiveness. In many cases in professional bass fishing, finding and catching fish isn’t the hard part — it’s keeping the mental aspect of your game sound. True to form, instead of panicking and scratching his intended game plan, Gustafson remained calm. Anglers focused on largemouth in shallow water slowly began to close the gap on Gustafson’s lead but Gustafson continued grinding until he had two quality smallmouth in the well.
“When we signed Gussy on the Simms Pro Team a little over five years ago, it wasn’t because we knew what he was going to accomplish as an angler — it was because of what he’s already done as an individual,” says Simms Director of Brand Marketing, Patterson Leeth. “You would be hard pressed to find a more widely respected angler who not only has the fans cheering him on but also, the vast majority of his competitors as well. We are unbelievably proud to see him raise the 2023 Bassmaster Classic trophy.”
The Bassmaster Classic is never a layup for any particular angler, no matter what their history is on that particular body of water. This year’s event attracted more fans than ever before in the history of the Bassmaster Classic – and the excitement level was also at an all-time high. On behalf of Simms Fishing Products, congratulations to Jeff Gustafson on achieving such a monumental, hard earned, and well-deserved victory on the Tennessee River.