Included in this week’s announcement of the new $4.2 million ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Weekend Series was an intriguing, life-changing element that might have gotten lost in all of the excitement.

Some lucky, talented weekend angler will compete with the big boys in the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Imagine that.

“Yes, this will lead to the Classic for somebody,” BASS tournament director Trip Weldon said. “Somebody coined the term here, which I think is totally appropriate, that this is a Classic opportunity. I like that.

“It’s a rigorous journey. They’ll have to fish within their respective division, progress through the regional tournaments, do well there and then the winner of the championship will go to the 2006 Classic. The first championship will be held in the spring of 2006.”

And that coveted Classic appearance would be after the winning boater in the championship event pocketed a cool $100,000.

Can you imagine a better way to jump-start a fishing career?

It is true, as the television commercials have been stating, that weekend fishing will never be the same.

WORLD WINNERS. The United States team, led by 2003 Classic champion Michael Iaconelli, rolled to a lopsided victory in the first-ever Eurobass Cup held recently in Spain. The American anglers did something that American professional golfers could not do – they beat an all-star group of Europeans 19 to 5 in a fishing match.

The U.S. team consisted of Iaconelli, Kelly Jordon, John Murray, Ish Monroe, Scott Suggs, Darryl Burkhardt, Mark Tyler, Dennis Kolender, Jack Gadlage, Katrin Dehaven, Travis Klein and Fred Roumbanis.

“We had a pretty successful trip,” Iaconelli said. “The fishing was tough. The team caught about 20 keepers a day, but we had to weed through a lot of little fish. The winning string was just 18 pounds for two days.

“But the thing about this event was like the Davis Cup in tennis and Ryder Cup in golf: we got to represent our country and help promote our sport. It was awesome.”

The event, which was held at Lake Ricobayo, was organized by the Semana Ibérica de Caza y Pesca (Iberian Hunting and Fishing Week). Iaconelli was the top individual performer, while Gadlage took big-bass honors with a 4-pound, 12-ounce largemouth.

“This was a great event,” Iaconelli said. “I think every year it’s going to get bigger and bigger.”

TRAVELING MAN. Also heading overseas is Texas pro Alton Jones, who will be taking his wife, children, and parents to South Africa for three weeks in November to fish, hunt and conduct fishing seminars.

“I’ll be doing some seminars for the (BASS) Federation down there and I’m really looking forward to that,” Jones said. “It should be a great trip for my family.”

DID YOU KNOW? Two anglers have won more than $300,000 in a single season on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour – Denny Brauer ($347,000 in 1998) and Dean Rojas ($333,000 in 2001).

PRO BIRTHDAYS. Tim Horton of Alabama will be 32 on Oct. 3. Mark Davis (41), Tony Couch (54) and Gary Klein (47) all share Oct. 11 as their birthday. Two days later, North Carolina's Marty Stone will turn 39.

IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Top California pro Mike Reynolds might still be in his former career as a truck driver.

THEY SAID IT. “Ultimately I want to go back to fishing in January. I want to be on tour again.” Nevada pro Byron Velvick sizes up life after his stint as The Bachelor.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375.