It was quite a birthday celebration for Northport's Justin Hamner. On Sunday, just three days after he turned 33, he won the 2024 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic.

It is called "the Super Bowl of Fishing."

Alabama was the origin of the Bassmaster fishing tournaments. Now, an Alabama angler has gone out to Oklahoma and brought home the championship of their largest fishing contest, which is one of the largest in the world.

Hamner is a Tuscaloosa County High School graduate and has dreamed about winning fishing tournaments since he was eight years old. The contest was held on Grand Lake of the Cherokees near Tulsa, Okla.

Hamner finished with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 3 ounces for the close win. The contest and the fishing actually started on Hamner's birthdate, but he did not have time for celebrations then. He does now. 

He took home the grand prize of $300,000.

It may be a life-changing win for the always-wanted-to-be professional fisherman. Just four years ago, he was cutting grass to pay the expenses and entry fees for professional fishing and to support his wife and one daughter. With the win, he hopes to set aside his previous jobs, moving from the lawn to the lake.

"I hope I never see another blade of grass in my life," Hamner said.

Hamner and many of the younger anglers use a new technology named "forward-facing sonar." Some traditional anglers criticize it as "not real fishing." It is perfectly legal and within bass tournament rules.

Tournament results can be found here.

Jim' Zig' Zeigler writes about Alabama's people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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