The End of Co-Anglers on the Pro Tours
The Bassmaster Elite Series was the first to eliminate co-anglers years ago in favor of non-fishing marshals. FLW had been slowly removing co-anglers by excluding them from the final days of tournaments and during the Forrest Wood Cup, but in 2019 they will be removed completely.
Proponents of co-anglers point to the chance to fish and learn with the best anglers in the world. They also look to the many successful pro anglers who got their start from the back of the boat. Those against co’s in pro fishing say that they have an impact in the standings as they could unknowingly tip a pro off to a technique that is working or that the co-angler in the boat forces the pro to fish differently than they would if fishing by themselves.
There are plenty of arguments for and against co-anglers in professional fishing, but in the end; they are no longer part of the game at the top level.
Photo Credit: PointClickFish.com
Jordan Lee wins Back-to-Back Classics
In 2017, Jordan Lee shocked the world with a remarkable comeback at the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe in Texas. He was down, but not out and weighed a giant stringer to win the event. This year, he did something similar and again walked away with the biggest prize in bass fishing.
The 2018 event was staged at South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell and going into the final day he was in 6th place. It turned out to be the same result as the previous year, and he was once again able to hold the Bassmaster Classic trophy above his head.
He was a rising star in professional fishing before his first win, a superstar after his Conroe win and may now have risen even higher after winning two Classics in a row. He has a chance to have the first ever “three-peat” at the 2019 event.
Justin Lucas wins Bassmaster Elite Series AOY
Justin Lucas was already one of the game’s brightest young stars over the past few years, and now he has risen to the top of professional bass fishing after winning the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Toyota Angler of the Year. He beat out a fellow young star with West Coast roots, Josh Bertrand, to win the title.
While he did not win an event, Lucas had an incredibly consistent year and also managed to finish in the Top-12 in five consecutive Bassmaster Elite Series events.
The consistency throughout the year allowed him to take home the title, trophy and $100,000 payday for his finish. As you will see when you continue to read about the most prominent bass fishing news story of 2018, he will not be defending his title in 2019.
Photo Credit: B.A.S.S.
Bassmaster Cancels Western Swing
The planned western swing for the Bassmaster Elite Series was short-lived and lasted roughly the length of summer. In July they announced that Washington’s Columbia River and the California Delta would host two events in June of 2019. Anglers on the west coast were excited to see their favorite anglers fishing their local waters, but in September both events were canceled. As expected, western fishing fans were disappointed, but it was due to concern from the pro anglers themselves.
The cost was the most significant factor as competitors on the Elite Series voiced their opposition to traveling across the country once again. The vast majority of the anglers live in the southeastern part of the country, and a cross-country trip was considered by them to be too expensive and time-consuming.
Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour
The news of a new professional bass tour was by far the biggest news of 2018. The success of Major League Fishing over the past few years was what brought on the brand-new Bass Pro Tour.
Once it became official in September, professional anglers made their commitments to the tour on social media in a process similar to high school athletes selecting which college they will be playing for the following season. The Internet was abuzz with who was fishing which tour and who was not invited to the new BPT.
Once the dust settled, 80 anglers had committed and included among those names were some of the most popular anglers in bass fishing. Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli, Skeet Reese, Aaron Martens, Brandon Palaniuk, Justin Lucas, and more of the sport’s marquee anglers would now be fishing a different pro tour. All eyes will be on Lake Toho in late January as the new tour kicks off their inaugural season.