Pioneer Says Series Offer Sponsors More Than Ever Before

CELEBRATION, Fla. - Lee Bailey Jr., one of the first BASS anglers to garner a non-endemic sponsorship – Foxwoods Resort Casino – 10 years ago, was never satisfied with the status quo. Considered a pioneer of sorts, Bailey is making more strides in the sport, as he recently signed a sponsorship deal with Albertville, Ala.-based food processing equipment company Fabco Equipment Inc.

With the addition of Fabco to his sponsorship lot, Bailey is in position to fish the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series. He qualified for the Elite Series - featuring 11 events that will award more than $7 million – via his status as a 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour pro. With the new Elite Series and its increased exposure, Bailey is offering potential sponsors more than ever before.

“It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” said the 43-year-old, who personally pitched Fabco by documenting impressions he receives in the media, keeping in constant communication with key sponsorship representatives and providing statistical evidence on the benefits of sponsoring an angler of his magnitude. “But I am also one of those people that look for every opportunity, even an unopened door, and I move forward.”

Included in Bailey’s pitch to Fabco was a concept rendering of his proposed 2006 boat wrap. The self-produced drawing depicted a design with both Fabco and Foxwoods Casino logos on it, a marriage between the two major companies.

“The whole wrapped boat thing is great,” Bailey said. “The exciting part is that BASS is giving us the tools to get these non-traditional guys on board.”

Bailey invested significant time and energy to secure his sponsorships – which also includes Mercury, Stratos Boats, MegaStrike, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, Calvitron, Gamakatsu, Ocean Waves Sunglasses and Frogg Toggs (outerwear)– and now, he’s preparing to deliver a season-winning performance. Bailey already won the 1997 Missouri Invitational on Table Rock Lake and to date has amassed nearly $200,000 in career tournament earnings.

“The sponsors are looking for so much more, numbers included, nowadays,” Bailey said. “To get two major players under your belt like I have, it is a tough deal. But if you put in the hard work, it can happen.”

Bailey’s agreement with Fabco pushes the boundaries of the typical sponsorship agreement. Bailey is assisting Fabco with its web and graphic design and the Northeastern angler from Hebron, Conn., recently relocated to Alabama – just miles from Fabco’s headquarters – in part to be closer to his sponsor company.

“I have been very, very busy since we closed the deal in July,” Bailey said. “But I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going.”

Considering his devotion to Fabco, it is only a matter of time before Bailey lands additional lucrative sponsorships. “Once we get some history behind us with this Elite Series, sponsorships will be a lot easier to get.”

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