BASS Announces Alignment of Youth Initiatives with BASS Federation Nation

BASS announced today enhancements to its youth program, putting its youth competition circuits on a track similar to the BASS Federation Nation tournament structure. As part of the announcement, BASS will move the 2008 Junior Bassmaster World Championship to coincide with the final 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series event, scheduled for Aug. 7-10 in Syracuse, N.Y., in what will serve as a transition year.

At the 2008 championship event, youth anglers will be guaranteed to fish with an Elite pro and will weigh in on the Elite stage. All previously invited contenders will compete in the age division in which they qualified as ages will be frozen. The competition waters are yet to be determined. In subsequent years, BASS will hold the premier youth championship at the Federation Nation Championship, as previously announced.

While the format of the JWC will stay intact, BASS will augment the experience for the youth participants. Elite pros will conduct seminars for all competitors and BASS will work with sponsors to provide JWC qualifiers with fishing equipment.

“We understand the difficulties for those involved in a time of transition and we appreciate their patience,” said Don Corkran, director of the BASS Federation Nation. “We recognize that our youth membership is vital to growing the sport of bass fishing.”

Central to the enhancements is the exposure of youth anglers to all levels of Federation Nation competition. Youth competitors will be mentored by Federation Nation anglers and will learn the elements that are central to the passionate Federation Nation membership.

The qualifying ladders for the JWC and the Bassmaster CastingKids program, which will mirror the Federation Nation structure, will provide youth with a firsthand look at competition venues they can pursue when they reach competition age. The junior competitor who emerges as the top-performing angler in his or her state will advance to one of six Federation Nation divisionals, based on geographic criteria.

The integration will begin with the first BASS Federation Nation divisional in 2008 set for April on South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Reservoir. Junior competitors will remain paired into two age groups, 11-14 and 15-18.

The top-performing anglers from each of six divisionals will then qualify for the JWC Championship, to be held in conjunction with the BASS Federation Nation Championship. The championship contenders will continue to fish for $23,000 in scholarship money, with the winners earning the distinction as the top youth anglers in the sport in their respective division.

In addition to the seminars, BASS will encourage its Elite Series pros to serve in varying capacities at both youth competitions, including the CastingKids, at the Federation Nation Championship.

The CastingKids competitions will be staged in a similar fashion to the JWC path. The top CastingKids competitors in their state will qualify from the Federation Nation Divisionals and the anglers who emerge as the top performers in their Divisionals will move on to their season-ending event, also staged at the FNC Championship.

“We received feedback from all of our constituencies and feel that these enhancements are in the best interest of all concerned,” said Corkran. “We are excited about the direction of all of our youth programs and the chance for our youth competitors to grow into successful Federation Nation anglers.”

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.Bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.

About BASS:

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 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 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.