COLUMBIANA, Ala. -- Pro bass fishing isn't just a Southern thing anymore.
The Bassmaster Classic opens Friday at Lay Lake south of Birmingham with Californian Skeet Reese trying to defend his title and Philadelphia native Mike Iaconelli hoping to better his runner-up finish of last year.
The sport hasn't migrated north quite yet. Two-thirds of the 51 competitors at the Elite Series' signature event will still be from the South.
But Michigan's Kevin VanDam won in 2001 and California native Jay Yelas took the prize the next year, followed by Iaconelli.
Japan is well represented also. The field will include Japanese anglers Kataro Kiriyama and Takahiro Omori, who in 2004 became the first Classic winner not born in the U.S.