MOUNTAIN HOME, AR (October 4, 2017) – The 2017 Bassmaster Tournament Trail was dominated by youth from start to finish, with Millennials winning both the Bassmaster Classic and the Angler of the Year award, but no other pro – veteran or newcomer – matched the achievement of Alabama rookie Jesse Wiggins, who triple-qualified for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. Wiggins, who will turn 28 on October 11th, accomplished that feat by winning the first and last Southern Opens of the year, and squeezing in a 37th place finish in the Elite Series points race in between. He finished in the money in six regular season Elite events plus the Angler of the Year Championship.
Making his feat all-the-more incredible by winning the season-opening Southern Open on Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes, Wiggins qualified for the 2018 Classic before he’d even fished the 2017 Classic. With 21 B.A.S.S. tournaments under his belt, he has finished in the money on 16 occasions, with three wins. He also had a 3rd place finish in his inaugural Elite Series tournament, on Tennessee’s Cherokee Lake.
“My main goal was to make the Classic through the points in my rookie year,” Wiggins said. “A lot of people would like to be in my position, but I’m still striving to get better.”
In addition to being his first year on tour, it was also his first year with Bass Cat, and he achieved his goals in a 2017 Puma FTD with a Honda four-stroke outboard on the transom. The pair presented a turnkey, essentially fail proof combination, as Wiggins said that despite experiencing substantial rough water, he “never had to go to the service yard or take a wrench to it.”
The Puma FTD also gave him the confidence to make long runs through rough water, not only on southern reservoirs like Ross Barnett, but also on big northern lakes and rivers the likes of which he had not previously experienced.
“I realized really quickly how dry it is in rough water,” Wiggins explained. “Other people were talking about taking three or four waves over the bow at a time, and I never speared one. At St. Clair there was a boat running the troughs of the waves and I blew right by him going right through them and I didn’t have to worry about my Marshal at all. Things like that happened a couple of times during the year. I know that it’s hard for companies to take a chance on a rookie, but I’m very thankful that Bass Cat let me be a part of the team.”
“We are really pleased that Jesse reached out to David Kilgore, who connected us,” said Bass Cat President Rick Pierce. “These are all great guys we have. We’ve been fortunate. Obviously he’s young, but at this pace he has a long career ahead of him.”
By winning the final Southern Open of the year, again on Smith Lake, Wiggins helped another Alabama Bass Cat pro, Steve Kennedy, who until then was the first man outside of the Classic cut. Kennedy’s no rookie, with eight Classics and over $1.6 million in B.A.S.S. winnings to his credit, but it was likewise his first year in a Bass Cat, and he made good use of it by earning his third Elite Series win, this time at Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas. Because of his own solid fishing and the boost from Wiggins, he’ll head to his ninth Classic looking to improve upon his 2nd place finish from this past March.
“To have him put Steve Kennedy over the line and into the Classic, that’s just the icing on the cake that shows how valuable Jesse can be to our team,” Pierce concluded.
About Bass Cat: Bass Cat, owned by Correct Craft, manufactures the industry’s premier bass fishing boats from its headquarters in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Family operated since it’s founding in 1971, Bass Cat is the longest continuously operating tournament bass boat company in the United States. For more information visit www.basscat.com.
About Correct Craft: Celebrating 92 years of excellence in the marine industry, Correct Craft is a Florida-based company with global operations. The Correct Craft family includes Nautique, Centurion, Supreme, Bass Cat, Yar-Craft, SeaArk, and Bryant boat companies, Pleasurecraft Engine Group, and Aktion Parks. For more information please visit www.correctcraft.com.