On Sunday, BASS took advantage of live television airtime to broadcast “BASS Madness: The 2006 Site Selection Special” from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on ESPN. And with all the flair of an NBA lottery or NFL draft special, “BASS Madness” delivered the immediacy of the sport to a wide audience.
Since ESPN’s purchase of BASS in 2001, there has been little doubt that the sport of professional bass fishing would grow by leaps and bounds. The sport has made giant strides this year, with more than four hours of Saturday morning programming each week on ESPN2 dedicated to bass fishing, featuring “BassCenter,” the sports’ first news program and ESPN’s first derivation of “SportsCenter.”
And as coverage of professional bass fishing grows, so does the world’s largest fishing organization.
BASS will open the season with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic in late February.
The CITGO Bassmaster Tour kicks off two weeks later, March 9-12, with the “Battle on the Border” on Lake Amistad. The lake forms part of the border between Texas and Mexico and it is BASS’ first-ever visit to the 67,000-acre reservoir formed by the Rio Grande.
From a never-before-visited site, the Tour’s next stop is BASS’ most-visited destination, Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Jasper, Texas, March 16-19 for the “Lone Star Shootout.”
The Tour then turns east to South Carolina’s two towers of bass fishing, the Santee-Cooper lakes (Marion and Moultrie), March 30 - April 2, for the “Santee- Cooper Showdown.”
The “Southern Sprint” continues with stops at two former Classic sites. Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, site of the 1976 Classic, will host the “Southern Challenge,” April 20-23. Then the tour moves to the site of the 1973 Classic, Clark Hill Reservoir (also known as J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir), May 4-7, on the Georgia-South Carolina border for the “Pride of Augusta.”
“The Turn” signals the midway point of the Tour season and includes two stops before heading north.
The sixth event of the Tour is “Sooner Run” and will be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, June 1-4. It is BASS’ first visit in more than a decade to the 46,500-acre impoundment in northeastern Oklahoma.
Two weeks later, June 15-18, The Tour anglers invade Kentucky for the “Bluegrass Brawl” at massive Kentucky Lake, which covers parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.
“The Northern Swing” makes two stops in New York. The first is at Lake Oneida near Syracuse, July 6-9, for the “Empire Chase.” The second is on venerated Lake Champlain near Plattsburg, July 13-16 for the “Champion’s Choice.” Oneida has hosted CITGO Bassmaster Open events in recent years while Champlain has not hosted a BASS event since 1999.
The Tour season makes its stretch run with “The Final Charge.” On August 10-13, BASS visits Charles County, Md., near the nation’s capitol for the “Capitol Clash” on the Potomac River. The river has hosted more than a dozen BASS events through the years.
“The Rock” will end the 2006 Tour season Sept. 14-17 and crown the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Missouri’s Table Rock Lake offers terrific bass fishing for all three major species - largemouths, smallmouths and spots.
CITGO Bassmaster Tour
The Southern Sprint
#1 March 9-12 Battle on the Border - Lake Amistad, Del Rio, Texas
#2 March 16-19 Lone Star Shootout - Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Jasper, Texas
#3 March 30 - April 2 Santee-Cooper Showdown - Santee-Cooper, Manning, S.C.
#4 April 20-23 Southern Challenge - Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, Ala.
#5 May 4-7 Pride of Augusta - Clarks Hill Reservoir, Columbia County, Ga.
#6 June 1-4 Sooner Run - Grand Lake, Grove, Okla.
#7 June15-18 Bluegrass Brawl - Kentucky Lake, Kentucky Dam Village, Ky.
The Northern Swing
#8 July 6-9 Empire Chase - Lake Oneida, Syracuse, N.Y.
#9 July 13-16 Champion’s Choice - Lake Champlain, Plattsburg, N.Y.
The Final Charge
#10 Aug. 10-13 Capitol Clash - Potomac River, Charles County, Md.
#11 Sep. 14-17 The Rock - Table Rock Lake, Kimberling City, Mo.
BASS Majors to replace Elite 50s
In 2006, BASS’ Majors will replace the Elite 50s, and the Majors’ schedule offers a good mix of the old and the new. The Majors will be an exclusive field of the best anglers in BASS competing for a top prize of $250,000.
The series leads off on Eagle Mountain Lake near Fort Worth, Texas, with the Bassmaster Memorial, May 18-21.
From there, two former Classic destinations complete the schedule. Lake Wylie, N.C., site of the 2004 Classic, represents the midway point with the Bassmaster American, July 27-30, and the Arkansas River, site of the 1984 and 1985 Classics, ends the inaugural season of Majors with the Bassmaster Legends, Aug. 24-27.
May 18-21 Bassmaster Memorial Eagle Mountain Lake, Fort Worth, Texas
July 27-30 Bassmaster American Lake Wylie, Charlotte, N.C.
Aug. 24-27 Bassmaster Legends Arkansas River, Little Rock, Ark.
“We’re really proud of this schedule,” said Dean Kessel, BASS vice president of operations. “It offers a great mix of old favorites and new waters, and the 11-event Tour season lets us spread the schedule out across much of the country just as we’ve stretched it across the calendar.
The expanded events schedule on the Tour also will also elevate the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year winner, as that competitor must now prove his abilities during three seasons rather than just Spring.
“The Tour and Majors schedules really reflect our commitment to bringing our events to the best waters at the best times for the very best fishing,” he said.
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 (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.