Seven Coveted Spots To be Decided in January 2006

CELEBRATION, Fla. - Although professional bass fishing underwent a dramatic restructuring with the announcement of the groundbreaking CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series and more lucrative opportunities with the three Bassmaster Majors, some things will never change. The prestige of qualifying for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the sport’s most major event, is one of them.

Already, 44 of the 51 spots in the 2006 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26, on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla., are filled. Those anglers, listed below, are vying for a $500,000 grand prize and the sport’s top title.

“The first time I fished in the Classic, it was like fulfilling a childhood dream,” Arizona’s Dean Rojas said. “A number of less-experienced guys who are in the field are certainly feeling the same way I did.”

While Rojas qualified for the Classic in June through the 2005 Bassmaster Elite 50 points standings, five other anglers qualified in early December at the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship on the Alabama River in Prattville, Ala. Rick Morris, a 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler, finished second and on the strength of that performance, qualified for his third Classic.

“It’s certainly been a long time overdue,” said Morris, who last qualified for the Classic in 1998. “But I feel really confident. I have done very well in my last five tournaments and I darn near won the Open Championship.”

Six of the remaining seven Bassmaster Classic spots will be filled with the leaders from the BASS Federation Championship, Jan. 11-14, 2006, at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla. The last spot will go to the winner of the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship, Jan. 19-21, 2006, on East Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla.

“We have a very exciting field for our 2006 Classic comprised of the premier anglers in our sport today,” said Don Rucks, BASS general manager and vice president. “Anyone of these anglers has the potential to have a truly special day on a tremendous fishery like Toho.”

The 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will be hosted by the Kissimmee Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Central Florida Sports Commission.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry’s widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.