Mercury Pro Team Angler Jeff Gustafson Wins 2023 Bassmaster Classic
Canadian pro earns first Classic title as four of the top five spots go to Mercury-powered pros on the Tennessee River
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (March 26, 2023) — Mercury Marine, a division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE:BC), congratulates Mercury Pro Team member Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson on his win at the 53rd annual Bassmaster Classic tournament, billed as the “Super Bowl” of professional bass fishing. After three days of intense fishing action on the Tennessee River, the fifth-year Bassmaster Elite Series angler from Kenora, Ontario, Canada, finished with a total of 42 pounds, 7 ounces to earn his first Classic championship and a $300,000 winning check.
Four of the top five finishers, and nine of the top 10, were powered by Mercury Pro XS® outboards, the brand powering more professional anglers in the U.S. than any other.
Gustafson is the first Canadian and second international angler to win the Classic. During a closing press conference Sunday night, he praised the performance and reliability of his Mercury 4.6L V8 250hp Pro XS outboard, which powers his Lund 2075 Pro-V bass boat.
“Since 2017 I’ve run that Pro XS FourStroke and I’ve never had an issue once. I don’t even think about it – you go wherever you need to go to catch fish,” he said.
In 2021, Gustafson won the Bassmaster Elite Series event here on the Tennessee River. He took the lead Friday, fishing the same canal that connects Fort Loudoun Reservoir and Tellico Lake where he parked himself during that 2021 event. The 40-year-old pro caught a five-bass limit of smallmouth that weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces.
He started Saturday morning on the spot where he caught all of his Friday weight but found the bass were finicky from the fishing pressure. With only two bass in his livewell, he moved to his second spot and quickly found the fish more cooperative, adding five more smallmouth that weighed 17-3.
Gustafson brought it home with two smallmouth at 6-12 on Sunday, which he called one of the hardest days of his life during his final weigh-in at the Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus.
“They were hard to catch. It was the sun, it was the pressure,” he said. Thankfully two of them bit my bait.”
This year, 36 of the 55 Classic qualifiers were powered by Mercury Marine. Mercury continues to be the propulsion brand of choice at the Classic, powering nine of the last 11 champions and close to 60% of the tournament champions since the tournament began more than a half-century ago.
“We are thrilled with the Team Mercury performance at this year’s Bassmaster Classic,” said Michelle Kilburn, Mercury senior manager of competitive angling. “With nine of the top 10 finishers and a championship by Jeff Gustafson, we could not be prouder of this group of anglers.”