Tournament Trail Includes Stop in Michigan in 2009, Return to California in 2010
BASS announced today its Bassmaster Elite Series tournament schedule for the next two seasons, 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the most prominent tournament trail in the world will make a stop for the first time in Michigan, home of three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo. The 2010 schedule kicks off with a West Coast tour as the Elite pros again visit the California Delta and California’s Clear Lake.
“This is the first time BASS has simultaneously released two years of Elite Series schedules. This reaffirms our commitment to the anglers, fans and sponsors,” said Tom Ricks, vice president and general manager, BASS. “We appreciate the support of our outstanding communities to deliver these top-notch schedules.”
In February, BASS also announced the dates for the next three Bassmaster Classics: Feb. 20-22, 2009, on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.; Feb. 19-21, 2010, out of Birmingham, Ala.; and Feb. 18-20, 2011, out of New Orleans.
As with past years, each Elite-level event will receive one hour of television coverage on ESPN2’s The Bassmasters, which airs Saturdays at 9 a.m. ET. ESPN2 will kick off the Bassmaster Elite Series season with 11 hours of programming through three days devoted to the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.
Additionally, Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com will provide fishing fans with real-time leaderboards, streaming footage from weigh-ins, photo galleries and analysis at all Elite events throughout each season, accompanied by award-winning coverage by Bassmaster Magazine and BASS Times.
Along with the schedule, BASS announced today that co-anglers will be removed from Elite Series competitions starting in 2009. Bass fishing fans will continue to have the opportunity to ride along with the pros. This move further elevates the status of the Elite Series events and professional fishing. The program details will be posted on Bassmaster.com at a later date.
Co-anglers will continue to compete in Bassmaster Opens — the ultimate proving ground on the way to the Elite Series — as well as other BASS events. Considering the success of the Open format, BASS also established today the addition of another Open division, the Bassmaster Northern Opens. Qualifying structures and the complete Open schedule will be released in the near future.
“BASS has always been about serving our anglers and fans by providing opportunities to compete in the highest levels of tournament bass fishing,” Ricks said. “This is the logical evolution and enhancement of the Elite Series to extend brand-building opportunities for the sport.”
The 2009 season gets rolling on the familiar Lake Amistad, where the winning Elite pro has weighed in an average of 25 pounds per day in the past two years’ tournaments. The reservoir will host the Battle on the Border, March 12-15 in Del Rio, Texas. In 2008, Texas’ Todd Faircloth rallied from 10th place on the final day of competition to win the Battle on the Border with an overall weight of 76 pounds, 15 ounces.
From Texas the series heads to Russellville, Ark., for the March 26-29 event on Lake Dardanelle. In 2007, Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., then the reigning Bassmaster Classic champion, won the last BASS event on the northwestern Arkansas reservoir with a four-day total of 55 pounds, 9 ounces.
Next, the Elite pros circle back to Alabama, the birthplace of BASS. If 2008 was any indication, the April 2-5 Dixie Duel on Wheeler Lake out of Decatur is sure to be loaded with excitement. The last Elite event there, just last month, became a slugfest. After a few days of trash-talking and nail biting, second-year Elite pro Jeremy Starks beat the legendary Kevin VanDam by a mere 8 ounces.
Hosting its fourth BASS tournament April 23-26, Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake is a scenic 20,600-acre lake that is 40 miles long and features more than 500 miles of shoreline nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2007, Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., then a rookie, claimed his first victory as an Elite pro at Smith Mountain with a four-day total of 57 pounds, 3 ounces.
To start a two-week tour of Alabama, the circuit next stops at Lake Guntersville, May 7-10 out of Guntersville, Ala. The last time the Elites visited Guntersville, a familiar face smiled under the weight of a hoisted 2007 Southern Challenge trophy. Kevin VanDam earned his 11th BASS career victory, besting the second-place finisher, Saint Louis’ Mark Tucker, by more than 6 pounds with a four-day total of 66 pounds, 3 ounces.
From Guntersville the Elites travel to the smallmouth haven of Pickwick Lake and Florence, Ala., for the May 14-17 event. The 47,500-acre Tennessee River impoundment is primarily a flooded river with points, gravel bars, stump flats, islands and small tributaries. It last hosted a BASS event in 2005.
After the Elite Series’ second tour of Alabama, the trail heads to Paris, Tenn., for the June 3-6 Tennessee Triumph on Kentucky Lake. With four tournaments to go in 2008, Kentucky Lake was the site of a thrilling battle between titans: four-time Bassmaster Classic winner Rick Clunn and VanDam, a three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. It went down to the wire as VanDam claimed his 14th career BASS victory with an overall weight of 84 pounds, 13 ounces.
Starting the homestretch in June, BASS will visit America’s second-largest river — the Mississippi River, out of Fort Madison, Iowa, on June 11-14 for the River Rumble. The Mighty Mississippi was host to a Bassmaster Tour event in 2006, when Elite angler Darrin Schwenkbeck won with a three-day total of 42 pounds, 12 ounces. The Mississippi has hosted more than 10 BASS events but this will be its first Elite Series event.
The Elite Series’ newest venue, Big Bay de Noc and Little Bay de Noc, will host the July 23-26 Cold Water Clash out of Escanaba, Mich., about 430 miles north of Kalamazoo, home of two-time Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam. With more than 90,000 acres of water, the two bays are home to plentiful smallmouth bass.
A return to Lake Champlain out of Plattsburgh, N.Y., means a return to the Canadian border for the Aug. 6-9 Empire Chase. In the 2007 season-ending event, Bassmaster Elite Series anglers caught 3,864 pounds of bass there. Timmy Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., won with 83 pounds, 10 ounces, nearly 13 pounds more than his closest competitor, eventual 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif.
Finally, the Elite Series travels a few ticks south to Syracuse, N.Y., to close the season at Oneida Lake with the Champion’s Choice, Aug. 13-16. Oneida is the 11th-largest lake in the world by surface area, with 9,910 miles. The 51,000-acre lake, which will host a BASS event for the fourth consecutive year, once again will be where the 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year is decided.
In its fifth year, the Bassmaster Elite Series opens on the West Coast, home to several of the world’s best bass pros, including 2007 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif. Up first is Stockton, Calif., and the California Delta, first visited by the Elite Series in 2007. The winner of the first Duel in the Delta was California native Aaron Martens, who now resides in Leeds, Ala., with 85 pounds, 12 ounces; Martens topped second-place finisher and eventual Rookie of the Year Derek Remitz by more than 6 pounds.
“We’re continually looking to maintain our presence in the West,” Ricks said. “The California Delta and Clear Lake provide excellent venues for the world’s top professional anglers, and we’re excited to be returning to both.”
From the Delta, the Elites will head to Lakeport for the Golden State Shootout on California’s largest natural lake, Clear Lake, also believed to be one of the United States’ oldest lakes. Clear Lake is home to a great concentration of lunker largemouth bass. In 2007, Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., won the Shootout with 122 pounds, 14 ounces — an overall weight that stood for a little more than one year as a record for a four-day BASS tournament.
The third tournament of 2010 will be the Battle on the Border on Lake Amistad out of Del Rio, Texas, followed by returns to Alabama’s Pickwick Lake and Guntersville Lake for the fourth and fifth stops, respectively.
The sixth tournament will be the Pride of Georgia at Clarks Hill Lake out of Evans, Ga., where the Elite pros made their latest stop in 2008. First-time Bassmaster Elite Series winner Kenyon Hill of Norman, Okla., topped the field with a four-day total of 68 pounds, 0 ounces.
From Georgia, the Elite Series makes its way back to Kentucky Lake for the Tennessee Triumph out of Paris, Tenn., followed by the Sooner Run on the Arkansas River out of Muskogee, Okla., and the Empire Chase on New York’s Lake Champlain out of Plattsburgh. Up next is a return to Lake Erie for the Champion’s Choice, marking the seventh time BASS has visited Buffalo. Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake rounds out the 2010 schedule with the Blue Ridge Brawl out of Moneta.
The full 2009 and 2010 schedule information, including host city, dates and fishery, can be found below.
2009 Bassmaster Elite Series Schedule
Battle on the Border
Blue Ridge Brawl
Cold Water Clash
Smith Mountain Lake
Big Bay de Noc/Little Bay de Noc
Del Rio, Texas
Ft. Madison, Iowa
2010 Bassmaster Elite Series Schedule
April 29-May 2
July 29- Aug. 1
Duel in the Delta
Golden State Shootout
Battle on the Border
Pride of Georgia
Blue Ridge Brawl
Clarks Hill Lake
Smith Mountain Lake
Del Rio, Texas
* Wednesday-Saturday event