BASS Introduces Sweeping Changes for 2006


Montgomery, Ala. – BASS, the worldwide authority on bass fishing, announced sweeping changes, including a new format for the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tour, a revolutionary tiered entry fee system that will change the way competitive fishing is staged and new criteria by which anglers will qualify for the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic and next year’s three other BASS “majors.”

The changes include:

* Increased tournament payouts
* Revolutionary tiered entry fees with a reduced base cost per event
* New qualifying criteria
* Increased fishing opportunities on days three and four with new format
* Increased field size
* And, as previously announced, an expanded Tour season, the debut of the “majors” and the rescheduling of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic

“We’re providing more and better opportunities for anglers to establish viable long-term careers. These changes have been a long time in coming and will only help to build and strengthen our sport,” said BASS General Manager Don Rucks.

This is the next stage of BASS’ long-term aggressive growth plan, building on January’s announcement of expansive changes to BASS tournament programs for the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, including an increase from six to 11 Tour events, the development of three individual “majors” that will replace the Elite 50 Series, the rescheduling of the sport’s premier event – the CITGO Bassmaster Classic – from its traditional summertime setting to late February or early March and the dramatic increase of prize monies in the Classic and the majors.

Increased Tournament Payouts

BASS is raising the bar with tournament payouts, increasing not only the total amount to be paid, but also the percentage of each tournament field that will cash a check at the end of each event.

In 2006, BASS Tournament Trail events (Tour, Majors, Opens, the Classic and individual awards) will pay $15,051,525 to anglers, up 46 percent ($4,745,375) from 2005 and up 124 percent ($8,339,025) from 2001, when ESPN purchased BASS.

CITGO Bassmaster Tour events presently pay the top 75 places. In 2006, the top 125 places will be paid and the overall payout will increase by $75,475 per event – up 16.8 percent. The total increase for next season is $830,225.

The new BASS majors – the Bassmaster Memorial, Bassmaster American and Bassmaster Legends – will offer a total purse of over $2 million, including a first-place prize of $250,000 per event, while requiring no entry fees from competitors. Similarly, the Bassmaster Classic prize purse will increase from $700,000 to $1 million in 2006, with a first place prize of $500,000.

All rounds of the Classic and final day action from each of the three majors will air live on ESPN or ESPN2.

When payouts for the new ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series are considered, BASS’ total payout for all tournament series equals $22,527,525, up 55 percent ($7,949,375) from 2005 and 236 percent ($15,815,025) from 2001.

New “Cut” Format for Tour Events

Beginning in 2006, Tour events will each have 200 boat fields. The new format for Tour events increases the field of competitors on the third day from 12 to 75 boats and increases the final round field from six to 12 boats.

“We are growing opportunities for professional BASS anglers,” added Rucks. “We are particularly proud of the new cut system which is far more inclusive than before.”

In addition to fishing from their own boats for the first two days of Tour competition, the 75 semifinalists will be fishing from their own boats on the third day of competition. For the fourth round of Tour events, the 12 finalists will compete from Mercury-powered Triton boats. In recent years, Tour pros have been required to fish from BASS-sponsor boats in both the third and final rounds.

“We listened to anglers, sponsors and all of our stakeholders to come up with this fair and equitable system,” said Rucks. “BASS-sponsor branding will be well represented on the boats in the Top 12 final round, while anglers will have the opportunity to bring exposure to their individual sponsors through logos and displays on their clothing.”

BASS is the only global fishing league which encourages anglers to wear their individual sponsors’ logos.

Tiered Entry Fees

For as long as there have been fishing tournaments, there have been entry fees, but with BASS’ new “tiered” system there’s a break for anglers who find themselves out of the money. In 2006, BASS Tour pros will pay $1,800 as an entry fee, down from $1,925 in 2005.

The pros who make the cut to 75 will be given the option of fishing in the third round by having an additional $1,200 deducted from their tournament winnings, providing an opportunity to improve their point standings and move up the money list. Therefore, the anglers who are having the most success will also share a larger stake in the event, while those who aren’t successful will have a reduced investment.

“Again, we’ve listened to the anglers and given much thought and consideration to the development of this system,” said Rucks. “Under it, those having the most success will have the option of paying a little more to improve their point totals and earn more money, while those who aren’t catching fish will at least catch a break.”

Additionally, despite expanding the Tour from six to 11 events, BASS will continue to require only a $3,000 deposit from each angler for all 11 Tour events.

Entry fees for Tour non-boaters will be increased from $650 to $750, and 75 non-boaters will now make the cut to the third round rather than 12 as in recent years.

BASS will increase the Tour field to 200 professional anglers by increasing the number of anglers who will qualify from the Opens and by extending qualifying opportunities to other tournament circuits, including top performers from BASS Federation, the FLW Tour, and the WON Bass Tour, among others. The number of qualifying positions to be awarded from each circuit will be determined and announced at a later date.

Qualifying For the 2006 Classic and Majors

BASS is also pleased to announce that beginning in 2006, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic will feature a 50-angler field, as follows:

- 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year
- Top 10 finishers from the 2005 Classic
- Top 10 anglers from the 2005 Bassmaster Elite 50 Series
- Top 17 pros from the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour
- Top 5 anglers from the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship
- 6 BASS Federation regional champions (up from 5 qualifiers to reflect addition of one division for 2005 season)
- Top angler from the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series championship

In the event of double qualifiers, BASS will invite the top-ranked anglers from the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour points standings who are not otherwise qualified. The 2005 Angler of the Year will be doubly rewarded with an automatic berth in both the 2005 and 2006 Classics.

The fields for the 2006 majors will be comprised as follows:

- Top 10 anglers on the all-time BASS money list
- Top 37 anglers from the CITGO Bassmaster Tour based on a three-year average in Angler of the Year standings
- 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion
- 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion
- 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year
- 2005 Toyota Rookie of the Year

The 2007 Classic field will be comprised of 50 anglers, as follows: - 2006 Classic Champion
- 2006 Angler of the Year
- 2006 ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series champion
- Top 26 anglers from the CITGO Bassmaster Tour
- Top 5 anglers from the 2006 Open Championship
- Six BASS Federation regional champions
- Top 3 anglers from the Bassmaster Memorial
- Top 3 anglers from the Bassmaster American
- Top 3 anglers from the Bassmaster Legends
- Angler with highest cumulative weight after three majors

In the event of multiple qualifications (anglers qualifying from more than one criterion), BASS will invite the top-ranked anglers from the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tour points standings who are not otherwise qualified.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

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