"That's the one I can't wait to go to: the first one, because it's the first one," said Oklahoma pro Edwin Evers, whose strong performance for the past three Tour seasons qualified him for a berth. "I can't wait to go."
On Sunday, the field became final and includes a host of the sport's stars, including Texan Kelly Jordon, who won the Tour finale and led the field of pros qualifying based on their combined point standings from the past three Tour seasons. Like Evers, Jordon was eager to get going.
"I think Dardanelle's going to be a fun one," he said. "It's in Arkansas and springtime fishing is going to be perfect.
"It's just a great, great thing that BASS and ESPN Outdoors are doing for the pros. (It's) a little smaller field, more personal touch. We'll have more contact with the fans and fun, enjoyable tournaments."
The 50 biggest names in bass fishing will compete on the four-event, no-entry-fee series, including reigning CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Michael Iaconelli, BASS all-time money leader Denny Brauer, 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle, and 2004 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Greg Hackney, as well as the 20 all-time BASS money leaders - led by the legendary Brauer - and the top 27 in cumulative standings over the past three seasons, led by Jordon.
"The most exciting thing is that it's a milestone in bass fishing tournaments: a no-entry-fee circuit for the pros," Jordon said. "There's never been anything like it.
"The Elite 50, all of my heroes are going to be in there along with the guys like me, the new guys who are up and coming pros."
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In April, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer 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.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Motorguide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Progressive Insurance, and Bank One.
Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats and Bryant Heating and Cooling.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.