In 2007, the Bassmaster Elite Series will visit 11 exceptional fisheries across the nation – including the California Delta and Clear Lake in the West. BASS also will stage three Bassmaster Majors, one each at High Rock Lake in North Carolina, Oneida Lake in New York and the Arkansas River in Arkansas.
With the schedule, BASS is giving the world’s top pros the opportunity to return to nine bodies of water featured in the 2006 season and offering them six new playing fields to master. The winner of each Elite Series event will take home $100,000 and BASS will pay out more than $7.4 million during the Elite Series season.
“2006 is proving to be a record-breaking year,” said Don Rucks, BASS vice president and general manager. “With the bodies of water and locations these Elite anglers will visit in 2007, I expect big fish on the scales, lots of BASS members and fans in the crowds and growing viewership on ESPN2.”
The season kicks off with the previously announced 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake in Birmingham, Ala., on Feb. 23-25. The Bassmaster Classic will feature 50 anglers and a total prize purse of nearly $1.2 million. The winner receives $500,000. ESPN2 will televise nearly 12 hours of coverage from fishing’s most major event.
The most Elite anglers will then travel across the country to open The Western Run, beginning with the Battle on the Border on March 8-11 at Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas. Amistad surrendered a winning weight of 104 pounds, 8 ounces to Californian Ish Monroe when the 2006 season kicked off in March. Anglers now consider it an unbelievable fishery capable of breaking record weights.
Next, anglers will head to the California Delta in Stockton for the Duel in the Delta on March 22-25. BASS last brought its most top-tier fishing circuit here in 2003, when local favorite Robert Lee won with 60-8 and Elite pro Jimmy Mize of Arkansas took second place with 56 pounds, 12 ounces.
Before heading back east, anglers will compete on California’s largest natural freshwater lake, Clear Lake, in Lakeport in the Golden State Shootout on March 29-April 1. This will be BASS’ seventh visit to Clear Lake and two Elite anglers – Texan Alton Jones and California’s own Jared Lintner – have won BASS tournaments there before.
The Elite Series picks up again for The Southern Swing on Clarks Hill Lake during the Pride of Georgia in Evans, Ga., on April 19-22. Davy Hite of South Carolina won on Clarks Hill this May with 71-12. Clarks Hill also hosted the 1973 Bassmaster Classic, giving up a winning weight of 52-8 to the late Rayo Breckenridge.
For the fifth Elite Series event, anglers will hit the bass-rich waters of Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala., for the Southern Challenge on April 26-29. Michael Iaconelli of New Jersey won this year’s Elite Series event in April on Guntersville with a total of 71 pounds, 13 ounces by targeting pre- and post-spawning bass and then shallow-water fishing late in the final day. Guntersville is one the most popular fisheries in the nation.
In mid-season, anglers will compete June 7-10 in the Blue Ridge Brawl on Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Va. Smith Mountain has hosted just one other BASS tournament, a 2004 Northern Open where three Elite Series anglers – Iaconelli, Rick Morris and Dave Wolak – scored top-10 finishes.
Mid-June marks The Turn and on June 21-24, Elite anglers will revisit Grand Lake in Grove, Okla., for the Sooner Run, where this year fans watched Arkansas Elite pro Mike McClelland take a wire-to-wire win with 79 pounds, 7 ounces.
Anglers will make a Northern Run on July 12-15, when they mark the eighth Elite Series event, the Champion’s Choice, on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh. Anglers just completed an Elite Series tournament on Champlain last weekend where all-time BASS money winner Denny Brauer of Missouri won with 80 pounds, 3 ounces.
Before the Series leaves the Empire State, Lake Erie and the Niagara River in Buffalo will host the Empire Chase on July 19-22. This marks BASS’ fourth visit to Erie but it will be the first time anglers launch from Buffalo.
The Final Charge rounds out the Elite Series season with two tournaments, the Capitol Clash on the Potomac River in Charles County, Md., on Aug. 9-12 and the Sunshine Showdown on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla., on Sept. 13-16.
This will be the Potomac River’s second appearance in the Elite Series – anglers will fish it later this year - and Lake Tohopekaliga hosted the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic in February, helping Luke Clausen set a new record for heaviest winning Classic weight, 56 pounds, 2 ounces.
Bassmaster Majors BASS again will host three Bassmaster Majors in 2007. These tournaments are for an exclusive field of the best anglers in BASS and pay each winner $250,000 out of a $1.8 million total prize purse.
The first will be the Bassmaster American on High Rock Lake in Greensboro, N.C., on May 17-20. High Rock hosted three previous Bassmaster Classics, including the 1994 Classic won by Bryan Kerchal. The tournament will again be in memory of Kerchal, the only Federation Nation champion to win the Bassmaster Classic. Kerchal died tragically at age 23 in a plane crash just months after his win.
A few months later, anglers will head to Syracuse, N.Y., for the Bassmaster Memorial on Oneida Lake on July 26-29. Elite anglers recently fished Oneida, where Tommy Biffle of Oklahoma took the tournament with a total of 63-10. This tournament is in honor of the late Don Butler, BASS’ first member and winner of the 1972 Bassmaster Classic.
The Bassmaster Majors conclude with an event honoring BASS founder Ray Scott, the Bassmaster Legends, on the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Ark., Aug. 23-26. Arkansas was the site of both the 1984 and 1985 Bassmaster Classics and will host the 2006 Bassmaster Legends tournament later this year.
The 2007 schedule will be featured on Saturday, July 22 at 11 a.m. ET on a special edition of BassCenter on ESPN2.
2007 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series
The Western Run
#1 March 8-11 Battle on the Border, Lake Amistad Del Rio, Texas
#2 March 22-25 Duel in the Delta, California Delta Stockton, Calif.
#3 March 29-April 1 Golden State Shootout, Clear Lake Lakeport, Calif.
The Southern Swing
#4 April 19-22 Pride of Georgia, Clarks Hill Lake Evans, Ga.
#5 April 26-29 Southern Challenge, Lake Guntersville Guntersville, Ala.
#6 June 7-10 Blue Ridge Brawl, Smith Mountain Lake Moneta, Va.
The Turn #7 June 21-24 The Sooner Run, Grand Lake Grove, Okla.
The Northern Run
#8 July 12-15 Champion’s Choice, Lake Champlain Plattsburgh, N.Y
#9 July 19-22 Empire Chase, Lake Erie/ Niagara River Buffalo, N.Y.
The Final Charge
#10 Aug. 9-12 Capitol Clash, Potomac River Charles County, Md.
#11 Sept. 13-16 Sunshine Showdown, Lake Tohopekaliga Kissimmee, Fl.
#1 May 17-20 Bassmaster American, High Rock Lake Greensboro, N.C.
#2 July 26-29 Bassmaster Memorial, Oneida Lake Syracuse, N.Y.
#3 Aug. 23-26 Bassmaster Legends, Arkansas River Little Rock, Ark.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation 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.