MINNEAPOLIS (Oct. 3, 2003) — I want to convey to anyone who has any involvement in and/or relationship to professional bass fishing to know that at no time before, during or immediately after FLW Outdoors made the decision to change the dates of our FLW Tour Championship from September 8-11 to July 28-31, 2004, did we know the dates we chose would be in direct conflict with the 2004 Bassmaster Classic.

When the decision was made to move the FLW Tour Championship to July, when school is out and the families of anglers and fishing fans could easily attend, the only time available, where all the necessary components were open, was July 28-31, 2004. This and this alone was the driving factor in selecting these dates. I keep hearing that FLW Outdoors should have known the dates chosen would have overlapped with the Classic dates because it’s been held during the same time for the last decade, even though BASS had yet to make an announcement. But, when you look at their history, you see that is not the case – the Classic has started as early as July 20 in 2000 and ended as late as August 14 in 1993.

Anyone who is familiar at all with competitive bass fishing knows we have worked very hard for the past eight years to successfully build FLW Outdoors and our tournaments into the largest, most successful tournament circuits in the world. Anyone who knows anything about our policies and commitments to all constituents relating to fishing knows that we would never knowingly cause a problem or conflict for any of them, let alone our sponsors or the anglers. Although we only have three FLW Outdoors sponsors that also sponsor BASS, we absolutely would never deliberately put them in the position of trying to be at both championships at the same time. In fact, without our sponsors we couldn’t, nor would we attempt to have any professional bass-fishing tournaments any more than BASS could or would without their sponsors, or for that matter, any other sporting organization or event such as NASCAR, professional baseball, basketball, football, etc.

It’s no secret that I got into the fishing-tournament business eight years ago to support and grow our boat businesses. Why would I knowingly ever try to do anything that deliberately conflicts with any of our customers or sponsors, let alone the Federation members who are owners of more Ranger, Stratos and Champion bass boats than any other organization in America?

There is no question that BASS is the indisputable founder of tournament bass fishing. Let’s not forget that Forrest and Nina Wood and Ranger Boats were the first to step up and be part of BASS when it began more than 30 years ago, and, without them, BASS would not have become the organization that it is. Remember, Ranger continued its sponsorship of BASS up until BASS decided to mix racing bass boats with tournament fishing. Only then did Ranger say they wouldn’t be involved in any tournaments that incorporated the potential dangers of racing. Ultimately, BASS and its constituencies obviously agreed with Ranger since they scrapped the racing-and-fishing format shortly after Ranger pulled out as a sponsor. However, no one can deny that competitive bass fishing wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for FLW Outdoors. Without the founding support of Forrest and Nina Wood and Ranger Boats, along with the prize money from FLW Outdoors’ sponsors, competitive bass fishing would not be where it is today or have grown as fast as it has over the past eight years.

Finally, I want to apologize to anyone who was even remotely inconvenienced by this recent scheduling controversy. The FLW Outdoors tournament staff is diligently working with the city of Birmingham and the state of Alabama to secure an alternate summer date for the FLW Tour Championship that does not conflict with the Classic. Wal-Mart, FLW Outdoors and all of our sponsors are totally committed to the growth and success of competitive fishing as well as creating an enjoyable and fun environment for the entire family.


Irwin L. Jacobs Chairman, FLW Outdoors