So it’s no wonder that eight of 11 Elite Series champions and one of three Bassmaster Major winners qualified for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 23-25, 2007, on Lay Lake in Birmingham, Ala.
Those include Southern Challenge presented by Berkley winner and 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Mike Iaconelli at the top of the list and season-opener winner Ish Monroe of California, who rounds out the top 37 anglers who qualified from the trail.
The three Elite Series winners who did not make the Bassmaster Classic are Davy Hite of South Carolina (40th in the season standings), Morizo Shimizu of California (48th) and Preston Clark of Florida (78th). Two Bassmaster Major winners also just missed the cut. Dave Wolak of Pennsylvania and Scott Rook of Arkansas – who each took home $250,000 for their wins – finished 43rd and 47th in the standings, respectively. 2007 marks the 11th time Bassmaster Major winner Peter Thliveros of Florida will fish the Super Bowl of bass fishing.
Power Index play
BASS introduced the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index in 2006 as a tool to measure the most powerful anglers – those that catch the most weight on average per tournament. Anglers shifted, slipped and improved throughout the season, but one angler making a big jump was Peter Thliveros. He began in 44th place, catching an average of 19 pounds, 2 ounces per tournament, and finished in 17th place, catching an average of 33-10.
Steve Kennedy, who was not ranked at the beginning of the season because he had not yet fished in 12 tournaments, ended in third with 40-13 per tournament.
Not surprisingly, the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year took the top spot on the Index. Mike Iaconelli moved from third place after the opening tournament to first, catching an average of 42-9 each tournament.
BASS in percentages
Of anglers who qualified for the 2007 Bassmaster Classic, 62 percent were in Classic position after the first tournament of the season.
More than 50 percent of fans overwhelmingly love five Elite Series boat designs, according to the Hottest Rig Running contest: Mike Reynolds’ “These Colors Don’t Run” military tribute; Rick Clunn’s Nitro/Bass Pro Shops boat; Ray Sedgwick’s KeelShield design; Charlie Hartley’s Venom snake look; and Mike Iaconelli’s Toyota wrap.
Two anglers – or 15 percent of the field – who qualified for the 2006 BUSCH Shootout also participated in 2005: Jimmy Mize of Arkansas and Greg Hackney of Louisiana.
Women’s Tour introductions
The first season of the Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats introduced several new and memorable anglers to BASS fans. Those include:
- Two-time winner Tammy Richardson of Amity, Ark., who also won the ESPY for Best Angler in 2006. - Two-time winner Dianna Clark of Bumpus, Mills, Tenn., who also became the Tour’s Toyota Angler of the Year. - Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., an 18-year angling veteran who’s won more than $400,000. - Lucy Mize of Ben Lomond, Ark., wife of Elite Series pro Jimmy Mize.
These anglers now are preparing to fish the women’s championship event, held in conjunction with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Ala., in February.
Traveling far for the WBT
While neither international pro angler Tammy Kashiwabara from Japan or Christie Thomas from South Africa qualified to fish in the women’s championship tournament, two co-anglers who also traveled great distances did make it into the event.
Bonnie Ward of Snohomish, Wa., and Heather Sullivan of Sitka, Alaska, will compete in the February 2007, four-day tournament on Lake Mitchell.
BUSCH Shootout calls
The 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series season wrapped up last week on Table Rock Lake in Missouri, but for a baker’s dozen of lucky anglers, there’s still one more tournament and a shot at another $100,000 winner’s check.
Thirteen qualifiers from the Elite Series, the 2006 BASS Federation Nation Championship, the 2006 Bassmaster Classic and the 2005 Open Championship will compete next month in the BUSCH Shootout, which will be held on a lake that won’t be announced until the week of the tournament.
The 13 anglers are those who weighed the heaviest single-day stringers during 2006 Elite Series events, as well as the anglers who weighed the heaviest one-day bags at this year’s Bassmaster Classic, Federation Nation Championship and last December’s Open Championship.
The BUSCH Shootout, now in its third year, has become an immensely popular tournament among BASS pros. Not only does it represent another chance to bolster a bank account, but anglers say it’s also one of the most fun, low-pressure events they compete in.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Shootout,” said Missouri pro and 2006 Horizon award winner Denny Brauer, who also qualified for the inaugural Shootout in 2003. “The format is so much different from anything else we do, and it’s just a lot of fun for everyone who’s there.”
The Shootout also has become a favorite of anglers due to quirky rules, which include tackle restrictions, an unknown location, and last-minute rule modifications.
Women’s Bassmaster Tour pro Tammy Richardson entered the 2006 season in somewhat of a predicament – she didn’t have a bass boat.
Now, the winner of two WBT events has more boats than she can use at one time. Richardson picked up two fully-loaded Triton/Mercury rigs when she won her events on Bull Shoals Lake in Missouri last week and Neely Henry Lake in Alabama in the spring.
The 34-year-old pro from Amity, Ark., entered the season sans boat after an electrical problem sidelined her rig. She borrowed her mother-in-law’s boat to compete in the season-opener on Neely Henry, but it also had mechanical problems and midway through the tournament, Richardson borrowed another rig.
But those problems were resolved with her first victory. “I’d been fishing out of borrowed boats, random boats, doing whatever I could do to make the tournaments,” Richardson said. “I needed this.”
Richardson, who won the Best Angler ESPY in 2006, finished second in the inaugural Toyota Women’ Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year race, behind Tennessee pro Dianna Clark.
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 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, call 1-877-BASS-USA or visit http://www.bassmaster.com.