Giddens takes B.A.S.S. Nation path to Classic

The path that Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation members take to the Bassmaster Classic is not worn smooth, but it is traveled just enough that Alabama fishermen can easily follow the route.

In recent years, regular state competitors like Coby Carden, a two-time qualifier, and George Crain have moved through the various B.A.S.S. Nation levels to reach fishing’s ultimate stage. When the latest edition of the Classic gets started next week on Lake Hartwell near Greenville, South Carolina, add the name Marty Giddens to the list of Alabama competitors who have reached the Classic via the B.A.S.S. Nation path.

Giddens, who arrived in the Hartwell area Wednesday, March 7, was set to begin pre-practice on Friday through Sunday with a full schedule of Classic next week. The tournament will be held Friday through Sunday, March 16-18, with the top 25 after two days fishing the final round.

In addition to Carden, Crain, and now Giddens, various other B.A.S.S. Nation members past and present have advanced to the Classic over the last 30 years. The list also includes Jamie Horton, Dalton Bobo, Lee Byrd, and Rickie Harp.

Marty Giddens

Horton parlayed his tournament experience into several years as an Elite Series pro and is now fishing the FLW Tour. Bobo almost reached the B.A.S.S. pinnacle, finishing second by an ounce to Dion Hibdon in the 1997 Classic on Logan Martin. Byrd actually advanced to the 1990 classic through the Georgia B.A.S.S. organization but is a regular winner and state team member in the Alabama ranks currently. Harp also remains a regular competitor in B.A.S.S. Nation events today.

Elite Series pros Jordan Lee, who won last year’s Classic on Lake Conroe in Texas, and his brother Matt are also past B.A.S.S. Nation participants who have fished the Classic but went other routes to qualify.

As he prepares for his first Classic next week, Giddens does have some history on Hartwell at his disposal. It was the venue last fall for the Academy Sports and Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. Giddens, who advanced to that tournament as the top Alabama finisher in the Central Regional on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri in April of 2017, finished third in the championship. The top three finishers qualified for the Classic.

“I would not say it was my goal,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “It might have been several years ago. One thing led to another, and I made it.”

Giddens said he was taking a wait-and-see attitude about his chances next week. Hartwell will be at full pool or slightly above barring some last-minute drawdown next week. Last fall, the lake was about eight feet below summer pool.

“I think it’s going to be a lot different,” he said.

Giddens caught his fish – about 90 percent largemouth – in October around docks on a shaky head. He hopes to cash in on Hartwell’s abundant spotted bass, however. Giddens, who lives on Logan Martin Lake in Cropwell and is a member of the Wiregrass Bassmasters, has plenty of experience chasing spotted bass on Coosa and Tallapoosa impoundments.

“It’s hard to know,” he said. “I don’t want to come up here and embarrass myself. I can compete at times, but this is a different level and I realize that. But a fish is a fish. If I can find something that suits my style, I could have a good tournament.

“I never know until the day’s over. When I think I’m going to do well, I usually don’t. Like at the previous one here in October, I had a terrible practice and only caught two or three keepers in three days of practice. Then the first day of the tournament I came in with 17 ½ pounds (and led). I didn’t have a clue. I was just fishing.”

Giddens said he would like to thank the national B.A.S.S. Nation organization for their support. He said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director, and his staff have made preparation for the Classic “a real pleasant experience.”

“I don’t want to come up here and embarrass myself.”

“I have to give a plug to the B.A.S.S. Nation,” he said. “They put me in a brand new Phoenix boat for a year, just handed me the keys and said go. Phoenix, Yamaha, B.A.S.S., they’ve all been good to me.”

Giddens also thanked Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation president Eddie Plemons but saved most of his praise for Eddie’s wife, Vickie, who serves the organization officially as membership director but works in numerous other capacities as well.

“I have to mention Eddie and Vickie Plemons,” Giddens said. “Eddie helped me get a couple of sponsors, and his wife is really the backbone behind the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation. I want her to know that.”

In addition to the B.A.S.S. Nation, Phoenix Boats, and Yamaha, other sponsors who have supported Giddens en route to the Classic include Coosa Tackle (, Davis Bait Company (, Hammer Rods (, NetBait (, Z-Man Fishing (, and Daiwa (

Like Giddens and other past Classic qualifiers from the state, Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation members can launch their next attempt at advancing to the Classic at the same time that Giddens is fishing next week. The first qualifier of the year will be held Saturday, March 17, on Lake Eufaula. Print or online entry forms for that tournament are available on the state website at Scroll down the right side and see the links under Documents. Entry deadline online is Sunday, March 11.

Greg McCain is a freelance writer with current credits in Alabama Outdoor News, Great Days Outdoors, Alabama Game&Fish, and CrappieNOW online magazine in addition to producing stories and photos for this website. He lives near Russellville and is a member of the Belgreen Bass Club.


Comments are closed.